Shopping centres are undergoing a major evolution at the moment because there is a strong shift how the people are shopping. E-commerce is spreading its wings also forcing shopping centres to expand their presence beyond brick and mortar. As malls are going omnichannel, there has been constant debate about whether or not, shopping malls should let the retail tenants to also promote their e-commerce businesses. Speaking on same, Mahim Singh, Mall Head, Gardens Galleria & The Great India Place, said, “E-commerce market is still under 10% in India. So the brick and mortar retail store is still very strong.”
Going further he stressed the limitations of e-commerce such as last mile delivery issues, returns, size mismatch, colour mismatch etc., which are too common in nature. So, the question arises what shopping malls should do so the e-commerce does not get the higher share of consumer expanding. Let’s shed light upon few strategies that top malls of the country are engaged with.
Click and Collect
Innovative ideas such as click & collect should actually work in the long run if you see it from the customer's perspective. It can often make the shopping journey more convenient for consumers: making a purchase from the comfort of their own home, and trial / collecting the item whenever is most convenient for them, instead of paying for shipping and not being in to take delivery of the item, or waiting for their delivery to arrive. “However, the only point of consideration will be to ensure that stores embrace Click and Collect as a cultural change rather than see it as a hindrance. We are exploring various avenues on these lines and very soon will come out with our exclusive offering for customers,” said Mahim Singh.
Shopping malls are no longer a place purely for shopping, but a one-stop experience provider for shopping, lifestyle and social. Hence, the in-store shopping experience still remains dominant when it comes to the retail market. Shopping malls are no longer a place purely for shopping, but a one-stop experience provider for shopping, lifestyle and social. “Shopping centres are undergoing a major evolution at the moment. Yes, e-commerce offers a sense of ease when it comes to shopping, however malls offer an experiential element to retail which is hard to replicate in the digital world,” Abhsihek Bansal, Executive Director, Pacific India.
As malls are going omnichannel they are heavily relying on technology to map customers’ data and strategizing marketing initiatives accordingly. “We are constantly analysing customer data and gathering feedback from the brands. We have also created an app that is currently in the beta testing stage,” Informed Bansal.
This app will enable the mall to connect with its customers as well as help them get all the information that they desire at one place. “We are in the process of connecting it with our social platforms as well and it will be the centre point of all important announcements, loyalty programs, campaigns and contests that we do from time to time,” informed Abhsihek
. The app has all the attributes that will help him engage more fruitfully with the customer backed by data analytics, Artificial intelligence and intelligent computing. “We want to ensure that customers have a seamless experience and the app will be launched once it is fully tested and complies with our high standards.As a part of the strategy we are also creating curated platforms and niche campaigns like segmented Facebook communication, Mall loyalty programs etc so that the customer gets a cohesive experience at every touchpoint. In order to be competitive in 2018, retailers have to think seriously about Omnichannel strategies that will bridge the divide between in-store and online retail,” he said.
Shopping centres are undergoing a major evolution at the moment. Yes, e-commerce offers a sense of ease when it comes to shopping, however malls offer an experiential element to retail which is hard to replicate in the digital world. As the popularity of online shopping has grown over the past decade, e-commerce has become more than just a buzzword for progressive retailers. It’s a viable addition to the traditional brick-and-mortar setup. Whereas it was something unique and innovative for a physical retailer to have an online presence a few years ago, it’s now highly unusual for a major retailer not to have an internet storefront. In order to be competitive in 2018, retailers have to think seriously about Omnichannel strategies that bridge the divide between in-store and online commerce.
How online-offline can co-exist?
The benefits that physical spaces provide make up three of the top reasons why online retailers are setting up shop, including: multisensory consumer experiences, better logistics and consumer service offerings and strong, lasting brand relationships.
The rise of omni-channel retail strategies in which mobile, online and in-store experiences complement, rather than compete with, one another has ushered in a new era for online retailers. Consumers prefer to shop in-store and they spend six times more in-store than online. As Abhsihek Bansal, Executive Director, Pacific India following could be the pro active approach to compete with e-commerce.
Multisensory Consumer Experiences
Nothing beats holding a product in your hand, feeling the fabric and seeing the minute details – something that can’t be done online. We have noticed that consumers want to try on or touch merchandise before they make a purchase. Physical shopping centers allow consumers to do just this — interact with a range of products to make informed decisions about what they’re buying.
Furthermore, physical stores have been busy retrofitting their spaces with technological advancements that make the in-store customer experience more efficient, which effectively eliminates the guessing games encountered online.
Better Logistics and Consumer Service Offerings
Today, retailers that started out only online are using physical storefronts not merely as showrooms, but also as storage and shipping centers to support their online businesses. Instead of one single warehouse to fulfill online orders, storefronts across the country help these once pure e-tailers reduce shipping times and costs – a benefit to both consumers and bottom lines.
Retailers are also trying to better meet hectic consumer schedules and changing needs. A study found that flexible pick-up and return options at physical stores drive incremental sales.
Strong, Lasting Brand Relationships
As we move from an age of transaction-based retailing to one of relationship-based retailing, Indian shoppers are looking for more than just products to buy. They’re looking to connect and establish a rapport with companies they give their business to. But it is not an easy task for online retailers to provide unique brand experiences to consumers when their main interaction is conducted through a computer screen or smartphone. This is why online retailers are looking to the physical store as an avenue to meaningfully engage customers and build strong, trusted and lasting relationships.
Online and mobile channels are now being recognized as an enhancement to brick-and-mortar stores, and not a detractor. Today’s consumer wants to shop when, where and how they want, and physical stores will no doubt continue to evolve and enhance the consumer experience and continue to fortify themselves as the preeminent retail channel.