Given the growth of eCommerce in India, retailers are feeling the heat, but on contrary, the malls are last in the league to be scared of online retail. As per a report titled ‘Malls in India’, there were around 50 malls in 2005 which rose to 500 in 2013 and the number is likely to reach par 700 in 2016.
Provided the depiction of malls as entertainment hubs and hangout zones, the mall operators are of the opinion that no matter how much people shop online, they ought to drive down to malls for social gatherings as they can’t have a birthday bash or friend’s outing online.
Mahesh Khariya, Marketing Head, Growels 101 stated, “One cannot celebrate one’s birthday online. For this, he will have to come to a mall. Yes, e-tail has taken a share in the market, but is not a treat or competition for mall operators.”
Impact of a click on footfall
Going by what mall management officials opine, the footfall in malls is still intact and is increasing day by day, with special credits to the weekend activities and concerts etc organised by malls operators.
In words of Benu Sehgal, “eCommerce cannot impact footfall. 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 retail.”
Adding to it, Vishal Mirchandani, CEO, Orion Mall said, “The impact of eCommerce is over hyped and scattered. I think the online strategy eCommerce players follow is to buy the consumers at any cost, which is not really a strategy for any business. At Orion we have a footfall of about 80 million a year and are growing at 20 per cent annually. Virtually we have seen no impact of eCommerce on our mall.”
While the buzz is that malls are revamping themselves and being indulged in activities to attract more consumers, Sehgal of DLF nullifies claim. As per her, “Value of our mall is increasing every passing day and our activities aim at strengthening the mall rather than waste time in thinking what an e-tailer is doing.”
The tactical click or experiential brick
Going by the consumer behaviour in India, shopping in here is more about outings and experience rather than mere procurement of goods. This acts as another brownie point for malls. Further, the bloopers committed by well-known online players have shaken the confidence of consumers which lead to a wholesome amount of complaints filed against the online retailers.
Susil Dungerwal, Chief Mall Mechanic, Beyond Squarefeet asserted, “Brick and Mortar is all about experiential buying and experiential selling. As human being, we will always want to touch, feel and look at the product before buying. Most of the ticket size for eCommerce for food and fashion is below thousand rupees. That means people are buying inexpensive stuff at a discounted price on eCommerce. But still to buy a branded product, they go to a brick and Mortar store.”
Taking a jibe on the inefficiency of e-tailers, Khariya said, “Online retailers will not be able to offer after sales service and feedback received by the consumers is also not great which can only happen in brick-and-mortar model where retailer have proved to offer best customer services.”
Given the need to cater to the millennial youth, the malls are now taking aid of technology to improvise on efficiency along with working upon the strategy to go omni-channel and hence, are developing websites and application for users.