We have been shopping online for quite some time now and the offline retail or more so, the shopping malls of the world are somewhere affected by this revolution. If only this was not enough, India is soon going to have its online shopping mall, Digital Mall of India – a first of its kind project which is an amalgamation of real estate and digital space. Mallidays Infotech Pvt. Ltd. will set up this marketplace in 20 cities including Delhi NCR. Digital Mall of India gives investors an opportunity to own attractive “Digital Shops” in a retail format. Each mall in a city will be different in spite of being the part of the same portal. It is developed on a scalable, robust, secure and reliable technology to manage an ecosystem of brands. We talk to Rishabh Mehra, Managing Director, Mallidays Infotech Pvt. Ltd., about the concept behind the project and the potential of such a marketplace in India, among other things.
Tell us about Digital Mall of India and its inception.
Conceptualized in December 2016, Digital Mall of India is an amalgamation of real estate and the digital space. It brings together the best of offline and online worlds – the shopping experience of an offline mall where brands have dedicated shops and convenience of online shopping where we get unlimited selection and benefit of buying anytime, anywhere. Each mall in a city is different in spite of being the part of the same portal. It is developed on a scalable, robust, secure and reliable technology to manage an ecosystem of brands. The vendors should have offline presence in the city to integrate their offline store to their shop at Digital Mall of India. Based on the zero commission model, it is a great opportunity for retail brands to take on the e-commerce giants who are faceless entities on the internet.
What is the concept behind this project? How does it function?
At Digital Mall of India, we are creating the experience of an offline mall online. When you visit an offline mall you get retail shops, hypermarket, food court, multiplex and a nightclub. Similarly, when you will visit the online mall you will get exclusive retail shops, hypermarket, food court, digiplex (where you pay an x amount and watch movies of your choice) and nightclub to party anytime anywhere (which allows you to pay an x amount and enjoy the music of your favorite nightclub). It is an amalgamation of real estate and digital space. We call it digital real estate as it works exactly like any physical commercial real estate. You can now buy a digital shop exactly the way you buy a physical shop. Every digital shop in a city has a specific address and you get the allotment agreement for 99 years along with the receipts for the payment that you make to the company. It is another asset class that is now available for investment apart from equity, gold and real estate and the returns will be far more than any other asset class. On the one side, we are selling digital shops and on the other hand, we are putting it on rent. Our research team will identify the registration of the top 3 to 5 vendors of a particular brand in a city basis the reputation, inventory and other parameters. After identifying the vendors, there will be a bidding process that will take place between the vendors and whichever vendor pays the maximum rent takes the shop on rent for the next 12 months.
Tell us about your retail presence across the country.
We have a pan India tie up with Regus which has 108 offices in India. Initially, we will have presence in 20 cities including Gurgaon, Delhi, Noida, Faridabad, Ghaziabad, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Coimbatore, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Bhubaneswar, Mysore, Mangalore, Pune, Chandigarh, Dehradun, Jaipur and Ludhiana. We will move to other Indian cities post this year.
What will comprise Digital Mall of India, in terms of the number of shops, floors, towers, etc.?
With the vision to “deliver experience and not just the products”, 11 towers have been created to deliver the online shopping experience like never before. Exclusive towers for MEN, WOMEN, KIDS, electronics, home and kitchen, education, financial services, food court, hypermarket, digiplex and online nightclub will recreate the experience of an offline mall. Every tower will have 10 floors and all floors will have 50 exclusive retail shops. Every city will have at least 5,000 digital shops available for sale and rent.
How will platform like yours give competition to brick and mortar retailers?
It is an integration of offline and online. Only the vendors who have an offline presence in the city can take the shop on rent. This platform enables them to expand their business without the need for additional infrastructure or inventory.
How will such a setup help consumers and how do you think will it perform?
Consumers will get cheapest products on this platform as this is a zero commission model and delivery is done by a local vendor within 24 hours. Features like the virtual trial room, digiplex and online nightclub will make the overall experience very exciting.
Elucidate on the market potential for an online mall like yours?
There is a huge potential. All research reports claim that the Indian online shopping industry will be over 100 billion usage by 2020. The number of sellers will need to grow 5 times to serve the increased demand.
How can brands or retailers register at Digital Mall of India? What kind of investment would be required for the same? Also, tell us about the rental structure at Digital Mall of India.
Sellers can visit www.digitalmallofindia.com and fill the seller registration form. The registration fee is Rs.500 only. If the application gets shortlisted, they will be a part of the bidding process with vendors who have registered for the same brand category as there will be only one shop for each brand. Bidding will start at Rs.10,000 rental per month.
How will a presence at Digital Mall of India be beneficial for a retail brand in comparison to investing or opening a store at a physical mall?
One cannot compare it with opening a store at a physical mall as it is an extension of a physical shop itself.
Any success mantra you might have devised for Digital Mall of India?
The only success mantra I have is to treat the investors’ money even more carefully than your own. Keep things simple and transparent.
Tell us about your marketing and promotion strategies.
It will be a mix of print, TV, radio, online and outdoor advertisements. We will literally paint the entire city before the final launch. News on the brand ambassador will be shared shortly. Event sponsorships and tie-ups with various campaigns and associations are being considered as well.