Shopping malls are an integral part of the community and a one-stop-shop for all of a consumer's needs - from shopping and dining to entertainment and special occasions. Over the last few years, shopping malls have evolved from shopping destinations to entertainment destinations. Additionally, malls today are synchronizing with customers’ needs by offering constant engagement, activities, and niche campaigns to cater to each target audience that visits the mall. In simple words, a shopping mall has something for everyone in the family, regardless of age and gender.
Malls still face a serious challenge in addressing the consequences of the Covid-19 outbreak. COVID-19 had an impact on every industry and business, and the retail sector was no exception. From mass store closures to strict occupancy limitations to authoritatively enforced issues and worldwide supply constraints, the retail segment had to bear a lot as a result of the pandemic.
With the world's attention focused on health and safety, it's not surprising that the pandemic significantly influenced consumers’ buying patterns. In response, the retail industry continued to strengthen the already existing trends besides undergoing a digital revolution in order to keep up with changing consumer expectations. In addition, a slew of trends emerged, shaping the future of malls in India after the pandemic.
A Hybrid Shopping Model: Hybrid retail refers to the combination of e-commerce and brick-and-mortar stores. While many traditional brick-and-mortar stores are going online, similarly many online retail sites, such as Nykaa, Indya, etc., are setting up physical stores in shopping malls to drive offline growth. Although Indians have fully embraced the internet, Indian shoppers still place their trust in physical stores as these stores allow them to touch, feel, and try their products in person. Moreover, in response to the pandemic and the phased lockdowns, people have been craving trips to the physical stores of their favorite brands. Thus, to modernize their physical locations, forward-thinking retailers are implementing an omnichannel framework that treats all channels as a single cohesive experience.
The Trend of Retailtainment: The concept of ‘retailtainment’ has been around for quite a while, as upscale malls have slowly transformed into recreational destinations. Indian shoppers visit swanky shopping malls for more than just shopping. A plethora of restaurants serving luscious delicacies, as well as an outdoor section where a variety of flea markets and live performances are held, are always lucrative attractions for tourists. Malls are, therefore, no longer just places where products and services are sold. Consumers today do not only shop at malls but also seek out a comprehensive package of entertainment and leisure activities. Thus, to create memorable experiences, shopping malls must strive to provide a high level of engagement by focusing heavily on unique experiential content.
Social Commerce: In order to adhere to social distancing norms, shopping malls in India are already allowing their tenants a way to sell products online. The day is not far when mall goers will enjoy a streamlined shopping experience through social networks with chatbots that reduce wait times for customer service issues, and user-generated content that offers highly customized experiences. Virtual and augmented reality will also provide highly immersive retail experiences to consumers in the days to come. Deliveries will be carried out using drones and virtual reality will be used as a sales channel. With social commerce, consumers will be able to enjoy an online purchase experience that combines the personal touch they are accustomed to in traditional retail stores. To gear up for this new wave of social commerce, retailers must optimize their stores across various social networks, as well as utilize business messaging apps to engage shoppers better.
The Road Ahead
Shopping malls need to reinvent themselves if they are to survive. While physical shopping malls will continue to exist, they will look quite different in the future. Retailers should, therefore, consider whether their brands are capable of coping with transformations and implementing them proactively. If not, they will be a step behind their competitors and will find it difficult to win back the lead.