The e-commerce revolution in past few years has turned the table upside down in the retailing ecosystem as half of retailing sales goes to e-commerce channels. The tough competition e-commerce is giving to the shopping malls is revamping the traditional shopping culture rapidly. Factors such as population, urbanization, growing demand for retail space, and the rising interest of Private Equity (PE) investors affect how the shopping malls must be constructed and designed. The fact that 17% of the shoppers are digital-only, shopping malls must adopt the latest digital technology to leverage the opportunity. In this overpowering digital era, the shopping malls are being designed and equipped with the latest technological advancements to produce all new business model—Digital Shopping Malls.
While the shopping apps installed on customers’ smartphones are the new retailing shopping malls, it can’t be denied that they still need to visit the malls for the high-priced goods and products online. Whether it is a failure of the mall or a success, the determinant is the customer experience during the mall visit. The shopping malls face the challenges such as lack of parking space, inadequate customer behavioral data, and vague customer targeting. This article is regarding how the shopping malls are using digital technology to innovate their services and infrastructure to enhance customer experience.
Unattended Kiosks for Self-Service
Unattended kiosks cut short the requirements of human resources as customers can quickly interact with the merchants. Customers do not need to wait any longer while standing in a long queue or having to discuss their requirements with the sluggish staff. Be it food and beverages or clothing and footwear retailing; these unattended kiosks are the perfect fit for the mall. The new generation kiosks are equipped with LCD screens enabled by AR and VR to offer the product samples and information. The Finish Line Inc. redefined the kiosks by making it available for the customers to customize their t-shirts and clothing through a touch-screen customization kiosk. They can choose their size and color of their choice. Even the customers are willing to buy goods from fashion, beauty, electronics, beauty, and kitchens from these kiosks due to the comfort and ease of access offered.
Advanced Parking Lot Management System
The biggest challenge faced by the malls located in tier I cities is lack of parking space available for the customers. To deal with this, malls use lighting sensors in the parking lots to alert the customers about the number of spots available by giving visual indicators (red for “Occupied” and green for “Free”) to the drivers. These sensors are installed either in the ground or on the ground of each spot. These wireless sensors signal to a server to convey the information whether the spot is occupied or not. Such sensors consume less power, which makes the battery last up to more than 7 years. This real-time guidance to the customers about the parking occupancy impresses the customers even before entering the mall.
Beacon Technology for Personalized Communication
Beacons, which are the radio transmitters installed in malls, send signals to the customers’ smartphones via Bluetooth technology and make their phones the store locators in the mall. A welcome message with their name or the best discounts on their favorite brands brings a smile to the consumers’ faces. It not only works well for the customers inside the mall but also for the ones who are roaming outside attracting more footfalls to the malls. Many shopping malls are using this real-time intelligence and location-based marketing to specifically target the customers for advertisements, offers, and discounts. For this geo-location targeting, the malls still do not have direct access to the relevant data of customers. But, Beacons curbs the problem by tracking the average time spent by a customer at a particular store or how many times a particular customer visits a store in the mall. Beacon technology provides the shopping malls adequate customer behavioral data which they can use to analyze the customer behavior and improve their services accordingly.
The article has been authored by Mahim Singh, Mall Head, Gardens Galleria & The Great India Place