Malls are catching up to the trend of online shopping and undergoing certain makeovers to add more dimensions to their portfolio to get back their stronghold as a complete retail destination package to consumers.
Apart from adding far more restaurants, salons and spas to cater to the customers, malls are taking a clue from the operational model of online retail to widen their catchment area and draw maximum benefit.
Malls encashing from eCommerce
While buzz is that clicks are taking away business of physical stores, the mall managers are not much bothered about it. In the words of Benu Sehgal, Vice President- Mall Management, DLF Place, Saket, “eCommerce cannot impact footfall in a mall. It can just hamper sale of certain commodity. Just because a lot of companies are pumping funds in eCommerce, it is presumed that eCommerce is trying to kill the organised retail market. The online market is still in a very nascent rudimentary stage, and will grow to maximum of 15 per cent of the market share, so we have nothing to fear from them.”
Keeping up with the fever of online shopping, the malls are heading the digital way by introducing their e-stores. For instance, Infinity Mall, Mumbai, has planned its e-store wherein the customers can place order via the mall website, but will have to come down to the mall to take delivery. Similar initiative has been taken by DLF Place which launched book-online-and-get-delivery-from-mall concept three years ago. With certain minor changes in model, the mall will re-launch it soon, a mall official informed.
Adopting the online model in its original form is not going to prevail as malls are destined to be an amalgamation of shopping, dining, entertainment etc, feel the mall managers. Sharing views on the same, Mahesh Khariya, Vice President, Growel Mall, said, “A complete online shopping model is not going to work for malls because malls were created to become an entertainment hub and not a warehouse.”
The aid of click
In India, the eCommerce players have set the bar really high for customer service and they are exploiting technology to its fullest to maximise their reach, while the mall managers are gradually picking up with the pace. While the promotional tricks on social media helps to cater to a wider and tech-savvy cadre of customers, the malls are open about their retailers selling online.
Sehgal asserted, “There is no tussle between online and offline. We are going to use online medium as our strength. If some dead stock is there in store, we should support the retailers to do their clearance sales on e-store and let the fresh stock appear in physical stores so that there is no clutter in the mall. Also eCommerce will give malls a lot of revenue to talk about.”
In regards to social media activity, malls are finding it an interesting medium to increase their reach and cater to multiple audiences. As per Surjit Singh, CEO, Neptune Magnet, “Social media multiplies the reach as most of the customers are active online as compared to those getting to know about offers and events via print or television.”
Further, going tech-savvy, the malls are developing dedicated mobile apps which will help shoppers know about latest deals, discounts, promotional offers etc.
Khariya said, “As of now, we are using the loyalty programme app which is at a very nascent stage. We are looking to develop it further and launch it which will be far more interactive and enhancing shopping.”
In a scenario, where online retail is thought to have eaten up business of traditional retailers, the fact is it contributed to just 0.3 per cent of the total retail market and it is going to be a small part of the retail largely dominated by physical stores. While online players are pouring more and more funds in, the malls are seeking ways to exploit eCommerce to add up to their revenue. In such a condition, an omni-channel approach is surely going to offer a wider spectrum while malls encash upon eCommerce.