Reinventing Indian shopping malls in a digital age

October 11, 2018 / By  

Omni-channel retailing has seen steady growth in recent times, leading to a greater focus on enhancing the overall consumer experience in brick-and-mortar retailing. Shopping malls are no longer limited to just transactions, rather they have distinguished themselves from e-tailing by offering a differentiated experience and community space.

The experience starts from the very beginning, when a consumer plans to visit a shopping mall. The various touch points include collaboration with a cab company that a consumer books to the mall all the way to the mall app that informs them in advance of the various offers and activities. When a consumer reaches the mall, parking or the entrance becomes the next interface that is now upgraded. After shopping, well-configured dining offerings and leisure activities summarises the roadmap for a consumer.

A recent JLL report, Tomorrow’s Retail, presents the consumer roadmap, touch points and trends impacting retail and real estate. Mall developers in India are also getting creative and creating a new retailing paradigm for consumers. This is done by incorporating technology to upgrade the in-mall experience, enhancing F&B offerings, providing interesting leisure activities and incorporating non-retail uses such as coworking spaces.

The major forces that are re-inventing the shopping mall scenario in India are:

Technology: Technology has reshaped the purpose of brick-and-mortar stores and shopping malls. Increasingly, malls are incorporating sensors, video walls, digital directories and digital kiosks to attract more footfall. Not just that, mall developers are also using technology such as heat maps to decode consumers’ behaviour in order to understand their spending patterns and enhance their offerings accordingly. For instance, DLF Shopping Malls launched ‘Lukout’, a mobile application which has features like one-touch parking payment, real time location-based offers, one touch concierge etc. It helps retailers to enable channel based consumer targeting. DLF has also collaborated with Uber to offer subsidised rides for customers visiting its malls.

F&B: A well-configured gastronomic offer is an effective way of injecting vibrancy and diversity in shopping malls. An optimal F&B offer is not created just by increasing the proportion of space in a mall but also by tailoring the palate offering to unique customer requirements. In order to customise F&B offerings, mall developers in India are trying to gain deeper insights about F&B operators’ business models, price points, portion sizes, optimal unit sizes, dwell time and trading periods.

Non-retail uses: To be relevant in the age of online retailing, shopping mall developers are incorporating non-retail uses such as coworking spaces. By doing this, retail developments can become community destinations that can create synergy with other uses. Examples of malls incorporating coworking spaces include Ambience Mall in Gurgaon and VR Mall in Bengaluru and Chennai.

This is just the beginning of a revolution that places human experience above everything in all aspects of real estate operations. Retail is not an exception, and connections with consumers are now the foremost priority of mall developers and retailers alike.

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