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How to maintain a synergy between shopping malls and retailers

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Leaders at Shopping Centres Next 2023 discuss the mantras for successful collaboration between malls and retail brands

Bengaluru: Collaboration and partnership between shopping malls and retailers is imperative for achieving better footfall and creating a thriving retail ecosystem. By working together, malls can support retailers with marketing initiatives, events, and promotional campaigns that draw foot traffic. Retailers, in turn, contribute to the mall’s appeal by offering a compelling shopping experience, experts said at Shopping Centres Next 2023, during a panel discussion on the topic ‘What Retailers Want’.

The panel was moderated by Vishak Kumar, chief executive officer of Madura Fashion and Lifestyle which was acquired by Aditya Birla Group in 1999 and Bimal Sharma, head retail at CBRE India, a real estate services and investment company.

When things go south

Sahil Kansal, head of property and franchising at Infiniti Retail – Croma, a consumer durables and electronics (CDE) retailer expressed his thoughts on the synergy of retailers and malls with a different viewpoint. “Indeed, having well-defined plans, strategies, and standard operating procedures (SOPs) is crucial for the success of retailers and mall developers. However, what adds a layer of resilience and adaptability to these businesses is the ability to formulate and execute a plan B when things don’t go as initially expected,” said Kansal.

“Both developers and retailers should recognize the importance of contingency planning and the need to be flexible in the face of changing circumstances,” he added.

What retailers want from malls

Sneha Jain, retail brand development head at Hidesign, a homegrown leather goods manufacturer based in Tamil Nadu, pointed out what a retailer needs from mall operators, “Brands are continually introducing new collections and products into the market, each with its unique story and appeal. To effectively convey these narratives and captivate the attention of their target audiences, brands often rely on the support and collaboration of mall operators,” Jain said.

“For a thriving retail ecosystem, malls and retailers should adopt a fifty-fifty approach, signifying a balanced and mutually beneficial partnership where both parties make substantial contributions to creating a successful shopping environment,” said Neerav Sejpal, vice president of business development at Spencer’s Retail, and Nature’s Basket.

Communication matters

Manoj Agarwal, a mall consultancy official, shared his viewpoints on the importance of collaboration and communication between both. “Social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn can be used for collaboration between retailers and developers. These platforms provide a dynamic space where retailers and developers can connect, communicate, and build mutually beneficial relationships,” he said.

What malls should do

Agarwal also highlighted the critical elements that mall operators should prioritize to enhance footfall. “Aesthetics and maintenance are foundational and regular upkeep ensures a clean, pleasant atmosphere that leaves a positive impression,” he said adding that safety and security are paramount concerns, instilling confidence in both retailers and visitors. “Shoppers need to feel secure while exploring the mall, and robust safety measures are essential for maintaining a trustworthy reputation,” he added.

Munish Khanna, the chief revenue officer of Express Avenue, a shopping mall in Chennai developed by Express Infrastructure, highlighted the ways in which retailers can contribute to increasing footfall. He emphasized the importance of retailers having a robust marketing strategy, implementing effective store operation tactics, providing structured sales team training, and keeping track of the aggressiveness of their sales efforts.

Keeping customers at the centre

Pushpa Bector, executive director of DLF Retail Malls, a New-Delhi based commercial real estate development company stressed the significance of understanding and meeting consumer needs. “The ability to adapt to the evolving needs and preferences of consumers is essential for both malls and retailers to thrive in the ever-changing retail landscape,” she said.

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