Today, the set of technology solutions available in the market are plenty, malls being a special target of the solution providers. They have been a witness to sudden demand and track the customer shopping and behavioural trends when it comes to shopping in malls.
Retailers and mall developers like Prozone have expressed their interest with regard to the same. In the recent times, Distil Information Systems (DIS) – a software product company specialising in decision support systems bagged the deal for implementing ‘Distil for Malls’ in the upcoming shopping malls from Prozone, a wholly owned subsidiary of Provogue India.
Provogue India has recently embarked on the project to build a number of shopping malls primarily in tier-II cities such as Aurangabad, Coimbatore, Raipur, Jaipur, Indore, Mysore etc. Post the effects of the financial meltdown; retailing is on its way up. Malls are sprouting across the country and retailers are once again investing in growth. However, a major lesson that the crisis taught the industry is in managing squeaky clean operations and a hawk like focus on profitability and costs. Malls have huge capital investment as well as operational expenditure figures and the need of the hour is a fast ROI and optimum returns. Rental income too has fallen with more and more retailers pushing for revenue based rental calculations. A mall owner’s ability to provide a win-win proposition to everyone involved in the enterprise is paramount for success.
Mall developers and retailers
Mall developers and retailers are set to leverage on this software solution. The mall owners are benefited by the availability of information in near-real time on how the mall is working from all the perspectives. This enables the managers in malls to be on top of the situation in their areas of responsibility. At the same time, retailers are also voracious consumers of this information. Keeping abreast of customer buying patterns, preferences, and conversion rates etc is mandatory for a retailer to stay relevant in the crowded mall. This detail helps them decide on pricing, promotions and the merchandise that is in vogue at that specific mall.
“Both the parties (retailer & mall owner) usually have a contractual agreement to share and utilise the data. The data and the output reports are shared online (in some cases, where online access is not possible to be provided for, is done offline at predefined frequencies). Distil Mall Analytics is a well known brand today; indentified as a thought leader and technology innovator. The Mall Analytics product has shown great promise in the Indian market. We work very closely with the industry to ensure publicity and acceptance,” adds Ms Poornima Sathy, Joint Executive Officer & Head of Operations - Distil Information Systems (P) Ltd.
Distil for malls is typically installed in multiple servers, which run any standard operating system (Windows, Linux, UNIX etc) and has any (RDBMS) database software installed in it. Examples of popular RDBMS software are Oracle, MS SQL, My SQL, DB2 etc. “The servers could be located in the datacenter of the mall, or in a remote datacenter or cloud as required by the mall organization. Individual data feeds are received into these servers from the retailer and the equipment systems via any of the methods prevalent in the market today; XML, CSV or direct database access. This data is then processed and stored in a form that enables analysis, computation and easy viewing by the Distil data model built specific for malls,” avers Sathy. Using the Distil BI analysis and reporting part of the software, which can be accessed over the internet using standard browser software (MS IE, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari etc) business managers can view reports, do analysis and draw conclusions on the data.
It is also to be understood that software solutions to track, analyse and automate customer footfalls, time-slots, trends and more may be available in the market in full swing. But, what is it that must be cross checked? On the same lines, Mr Harish Bijoor comments, “What is important is the way this data is utilised by mall-owners. So far, data-centricity is missing and the low-hanging fruit of modern retail was being plucked. Now, as competition intensifies and the footfalls are cracking, and are getting increasingly erratic, it is time to wake up and smell the software solutions!”
Creative Portico India Pvt. Ltd., which has otherwise been a client for DIS, has not yet experienced the offerings of this particular software but would like to understand the capabilities of the same and then use it. Mr Chandan Savera, Sr. GM- Retail and Marketing, Creative Portico India Pvt. Ltd., opines, “I believe that this kind of software will help in understanding the customer profile. This is the most important aspect for a retailer or brand. This will help in taking decision in retail planning etc.”
The practical reality of most malls is that their data infrastructure is made up by a collection of heterogeneous systems. For example, an organisation might have one system that handles customer-relationship, another system that handles equipment, other systems that handle sales data, yet another system for finance and budgeting data, etc. In practice, these systems are often poorly or not at all integrated and simple questions can be very hard to answer, even though the information is available "somewhere" in the different data systems.
Today, mall owners treat customers as numbers that walk in. The moment a qualitative feel to these numbers is added through the use of data mining techniques, method will be made out of the madness that prevails today. Bijoor adds, “That can be helpful and the commercially important data that can be leveraged!”
Mr Boby Mohan, Head – Business and Joint Executive Officer, Distil Info Systems concludes, “The ability to predict and plan based on Consumer behaviour is the key to success for retailers and mall owners today. Using Distil DSS, this becomes a very simple task and we are proud to enable the Indian retail industry live up to its growth expectations. With this project, we hope to make inroads with other players in this sector and extend our reach.”