How are shopping malls evolving in India?

Retaining customers and getting footfalls is a challenge for malls due to a deluge of online shopping sites with hefty discounts. Malls must therefore evolve & adapt to the changing consumer behavior, writes Arjun Gehlot, Director, Ambience Mall.
Malls in India

The mall segment in India’s Real Estate sector has seen massive transformation in the last two decades. From a cluster of few stores selling branded goods along with couple of restaurants and coffee shops tucked in a corner, malls today have not only grown exponentially in size, they also offer a wide variety of options to the shopaholic, gigantic food courts with an eclectic menu, and a host of entertainment activities including multi screen cinema halls.

Burgeoning mall culture in India

The mall culture has seen a massive surge in the country in recent times, with malls now spreading their wings to even Tier II and Tier III cities. With rising disposable incomes in the country, the idea of malls has caught on since they are convenient, organized, offer number of choices under one roof, and provide ample parking space. Thus, it doesn’t come as a surprise that organized retailing in the country is projected to grow at the rate of 25-30 per cent per annum to touch $75 billion by 2017.

With improvement in standard of living and willingness to spend money, people now prefer to shop from malls that offer best in class ambience, comfort and services. Malls provide ease of shopping in air-conditioned and aesthetically done surroundings with access to a variety of products. Thus, one does not need to trudge from one shop to another in extreme weather conditions. The present-day consumer looks for experiences that go well beyond the traditional shopping.   

The onset of the mall culture in India was thought to be the driver of growth for the retail and entertainment sector and led to a mushrooming of malls across the country, with mega malls coming up in the metropolitan cities. However, not all is hunky dory with the sector and malls have seen a setback in the last few years due to a variety of factors like bad location, poor planning and execution, slowdown in the economy, and lack of proper strategy by some developers. In fact, several malls ended up in the same location and ended up eating into each other’s business. This resulted in many malls not performing up to the expectations.

Malls repositioning themselves

In the current scenario, retaining customers and getting footfalls is a challenge due to a deluge of online shopping sites with hefty discounts. Malls must therefore evolve and adapt to the changing pattern of consumer behavior and find ways to surmount the various challenges coming their way. Malls must look at positioning themselves as the ultimate destination for the services they offer, look at new concepts to enhance the overall experience and offer more convenience of its customers.

The one big advantage that malls carry over online sites is the unique physical, visual and sensory experience they offer to their customers. It will bode well for malls to utilize this advantage to the hilt to build and retain relationship with their customers and ensure repeat visits.

The share of organised retail in India compared to the west is still very low and hence, there is a tremendous scope for growth of organised retail sector in India. In order to capitalize on this huge potential, malls must adopt sound positioning strategies, invest in latest technology, and offer new services & options for entertainment to overcome the current problems related to falling footfalls. In short, malls need to reinvent themselves. 

This article has been authored by Arjun Gehlot, Director, Ambience Mall – Gurgaon & Vasant Kunj.

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