How Expectations of Consumers and Retailers are Changing From Malls
How Expectations of Consumers and Retailers are Changing From Malls

Covid-19 pandemic shook the entire world to the core with our foundation and structure crumbling down under immense pressure. Other than the physical aspects and implications of the pandemic on the population, there was a distinguished mental change in the outlook and perception as well.

With the disease wreaking havoc manifolds all over the world, a conscious shift in choices, decisions, and analysis was felt wherein, the focus on well-being and health drastically changed. This shift brought with it a positive change in terms of safety and health being of paramount importance and people consciously shifting towards a healthier, greener and purer alternative to everything, be it food, clothing, the shopping process, or their morning coffee!

“After the first lockdown people were hesitant as they were not sure how malls are kept but they saw malls have been maintained nicely, all the safety protocols are being followed. People came to buy quickly and went back. After the second lockdown, consumer behavior changed drastically, we had immense footfall despite us putting controlled visitors norm. They were spending more time in the mall. Now, people are coming to the mall, most of the sales have gone back to 90 percent. Overall, it’s good and we see a happier time in the future. We saw formal wear and multiple categories suffering but now everything is back to normal,” states Mukesh Kumar, CEO Chairman, Infiniti.

“When COVID was wearying down then too customers were apprehensive to spend much time in the mall. All services were always there, it has just picked up speed now. The mall has to adapt to the requests that come by, it does put some financial load on the mall but all this is a part of the business,” adds Rajendra Kalkar, President- West, High Street Phoenix.
When people come to the mall it is not always about buying, sometimes they want to indulge and experience which drives the sale of brands. When it is a standalone brand then the customer is coming from the hardcore purpose of buying. Post-COVID customers have become more specific. 

“We have our website and the price on our website and in stores are the same, giving customers an omnichannel experience. It depends on the product you want to buy, if you are buying a phone then probably you’ll order it online but if you want to buy a fridge or a washing machine then you’d want to see the machine physically before making a purchase,” states Sahil Kansal, Head of Property & franchising- Chroma, Infiniti Retail Ltd.

Neighborhood Malls

The concept of neighborhood malls is picking up in the metro cities. The neighborhood malls are comparatively smaller in size and are located in the vicinity of the households.
"A lot depends on the city you are in. Instead of counting kilometers, it's better to take into count how much a person is willing to drive to buy a certain product. We are largely in Tier-II and Tier-III cities where people are comfortable driving for 25-30 minutes to visit a big mall. People are willing to visit neighborhood malls as well. Neighborhood malls are more successful in big cities than small cities. In small cities, regional centers are more popular,” asserts Bipin Gurnani, President & CEO, Prozone Intu Property Ltd.
“The size is not a factor for malls. It depends on the catchment of how much people can spend in that city. The size of the mall depends on the spending power of the city. Smaller malls are not an issue for developers because there are many such malls doing well,” adds Kalkar.
Expectations of Retailers from the Mall

Just like consumer expectations, the expectations of retailers are also changing. Rent, cam charges, etc have started gaining more prominence. 
“As a brand, the biggest discussion that happens around is rental and cam charges. Rental is not an issue for us, it is the cam charges that are important. We are good with giving Rs 10-20 more for cam charges if the mall is doing justice to those cams, they are providing enough standards and marketing to bring footfall to the mall. Malls like Phoenix and DLF do great marketing and that’s why we love them. Also, I’d like to add that it’s a great idea to ship products from a shop because as I said customer experience is getting higher and higher, they have become impatient so it is good for a brand if they can deliver a product in a few hours in a 5-10 km of range,” explains Rohit Sahni, Co-Founder, WK Life.
“In existing malls, we have limited space but in the new malls, we see a dramatic change. All the established brands are seeking flagship stores. Earlier they would go for 1,000 sq. ft. but now they want 4,000 sq. ft. and they are willing to pay higher rent for it. I believe this change is due to omnichannel, they want stores to become experience stores rather than just being an outlet from where customers can shop. The second change is that most of the online players want a physical presence and the existing established offline players are seeking much larger space,” adds Kalkar. 

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How The Organic World's Pledge to Reach 100 Stores in 18 Months will Disrupt India’s Retail Landscape
How The Organic World's Pledge to Reach 100 Stores in 18 Months will Disrupt India’s Retail Landscape

In 2017, The Organic World (TOW), sprouted as the green heart of Nimida Group in Bengaluru, sowing the seeds of sustainability to cultivate positive change in our way of life. Founded by Gaurav Manchanda, Director, The Organic World, this unique brand strives to offer a holistic range of organic and natural products. From pesticide-free fruits and vegetables to chemical-free homecare products, TOW provides consumers with over 3000 choices to embrace a healthier, cleaner, and more sustainable lifestyle.

The Genesis of TOW

Gaurav, during his return to India from the United States in 2016, identified a gap in the market for healthy and organic food options. Motivated by a personal quest for such products and a desire to offer the same to a wider audience, The Organic World was born in 2017. Starting with the launch of its first store in JP Nagar, Bengaluru, TOW quickly expanded. Today it has 15 stores across Bengaluru, and is exploring the franchise model and the plan is to steadily expand TOW’s footprint across South India.

“Our journey is only getting started. We plan to expand up to 100 stores over the next 18 months, and exploring cities like Chennai, Pune, and more,” he says.

TOW positions itself as a multi-brand retailer, hosting products that are not only organic but also differentiated, providing better value to customers as they journey towards a healthier lifestyle. The stores boasts a comprehensive product range, including fruits, vegetables, dairy, staples, personal care items, and home care products. The presentation of these stores is world-class, ensuring a unique and engaging shopping experience.

Innovative Retailing

Gaurav sheds light on TOW's commitment to responsible retailing, focusing on three core pillars: authenticity, accessibility, and affordability. The company enforces a rigorous vetting process for products, maintaining transparency by publicly listing 25 blacklisted ingredients and chemicals not allowed on their shelves. This disruptive approach challenges the industry to prioritize healthier and sustainable products. TOW has created a strict ‘Not In Our Aisle’ list – a list of chemicals and harmful ingredients that do not find a spot on its store shelves, despite their industry popularity. This includes ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, a sweetener, found in soda, juice, candy, breakfast cereals and packaged snacks; artificial flavorings/colors found in most packaged foods; Tertiary Butylhydroquinine (TBHQ), an antioxidant found in biscuits, microwave popcorn, butter substitutes and chicken nuggets; parabens, sulfates and phthalates found in personal and beauty care products; and a range of acids and toxins found in home cleaning essentials, to name some.

“When you step into our store, it's an interesting and world-class experience. We strive to be a full basket retailer, so you can complete your shopping journey within our stores. Now we have about 3000 SKUs on our shelves, and we continue to introduce interesting categories and products,” explains Gaurav.

Consumer Awareness

The brand’s commitment to sustainability extends beyond its product offerings. It has introduced a zero-waste section in select stores, encouraging customers to bring their own containers for grains and nuts. The company is conscious of consumer preferences, with a dedicated vegan category accounting for a significant portion of sales. TOW's initiatives have not only resonated with environmentally conscious consumers but also positively impacted its revenue.

The Organic World has embraced a tech-driven approach to bridge the online and offline shopping experience seamlessly. Initially partnering with tech enablers, TOW later developed its in-house tech stack, comprising apps, websites, and delivery mechanisms. This move provides the company with more control over data, enabling better insights into consumer behavior.

Acknowledging the challenges in the grocery and organic sector, Gaurav emphasizes the importance of trust in the brand and scale to stay competitive. The company strives to deliver within a two to four-hour time slot, and in a bid to make its last-mile delivery sustainable, TOW is exploring the use of electric vehicles.

Differentiation in a Crowded Market

In a market flooded with products labeled as organic, The Organic World sets itself apart through a combination of the 3As. The brand's strong category play, especially in emerging trends like veganism, further distinguishes it from competitors. The company's commitment to scale, transparent pricing, and a variety of unique products solidifies its position as a leading player in the organic and healthy foods sector.

“We work closely with farmers and a network of farmers under the brand Happy Harvest Farms. They are certified and organic. Additionally, we do our own checks internally, and based on these checks we believe that we are able to provide an authentic experience to the discerning consumer,” Gaurav asserts.

He is optimistic about the future, fueled by the growing awareness of health-conscious consumers. With plans to expand its store network and franchise model, TOW aims to be a dominant player in the Indian organic market. The brand envisions not only leading in the organic sector but also influencing responsible retailing practices across the broader retail industry.



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