Retail buying will not go down: Gautam Vaswani
Retail buying will not go down: Gautam Vaswani

While on one hand, malls are gradually becoming experiential centers rather than just retail buying hubs, on the other hand they are tweaking their strategies by focusing more on F&B and entertainment categories. Also, with the flack of booming eCommerce in the country, malls and retailers are reinventing themselves, they are concentrating more on utmost consumer convenience, brands positioning and selling products at the price range of online offering. Thus, pointing on the changing strategies of the malls management companies with changing time, Gautam Vaswani, Executive Director, Pioneer Property Zone spoke to

How does brand positioning in malls play a key role in driving sales?
Most of the malls in the country have failed because of wrong brand positioning in the favor of receiving high rents. Positioning of the brands is completely dependent on the management, a lot of research goes into, which brand goes where. Well, surely research is being done on catchment and on brands and its performance in different markets, but it is not that the first preference is given to the international brands. There are so many western brands which are not even doing well. We never give choice of positioning to the brands; rather we decide the brand where it should be with the valid reason.

Ensuring better footfall and consumer convenience, how do you categorise brand positioning?
There are more than 30 categories like menswear, womenswear, accessories and departmental stores among others that we position in the mall. We strategise the brand positioning like putting hyper market in the parking lot along with travelator. Likewise, we put jewellery shop at the entrance of a mall and put coffee shop at the end. We try to accommodate every category in the catchment, but some categories like liquor shop may not be there in every mall. Every mall is positioned in a particular way that it’s either mid market or high end mall. The marketing activities carried out in the malls determine the quality of people who enter the mall. If high end people are coming to the mall, the marketing activities revolve around high end brands. The consumers prefer entering stores, which have an attractive store front and a good store design.

Based on the performance, how do you help brands to increase their sales?
Basically, we find out why the brand is not doing well. We speak to store managers and try to figure out what kinds of products are not being sold compared to other brands in the similar category. We ask them to reposition the products according to the price preference of the consumers. In some cases we shift the stores from level 2 to level 1, which is doing well. Also, we create event and marketing activities like offering gift vouchers from the brand.  

Malls are gradually becoming experiential centre, so how you are tweaking your strategies?
After the online story has started, there has been a major shift. Now people go to the mall to experience F&B and entertainment, to see art exhibition and attend dance classes. They are looking for experiential kind of shopping, rather than just doing shopping. One of our malls in Bengaluru has got one third of the area for entertainment. So, we have to change our strategies accordingly and entertainment is becoming our big focus now.

Going forward what shift you see with malls?
Retail buying will not go down it is here to stay. Malls and retailers are going to reinvent themselves. Online has created an impact, therefore malls are not going to shut down because of eCommerce. In line with cheaper and convenient online shopping, a lot of the offline stores are selling the product at the price of online and I see retail sale going up again. Hence, with entertainment retail, buying will also get equal focus. Earlier, many departmental stores used to spread over 50-60000 sqft and hypermarket on 60-8000 sqft. All those sizes have shrunk by at least a third in malls.

Which categories are gradually disappearing from the malls?
The categories like books and music stores, which are not known across the country today, are disappearing from malls. It is difficult to find a music store in malls.

What are the basic challenges that you come across while doing mall management?
The management should be in the right way. We need a right turnover to augur, right set of retailers to be brought onboard because mall management is managing a property with retailers.

Is revenue sharing model working with malls?
Yes, there is a revenue sharing component. Many retailers, especially the international ones are going for pure revenue sharing.

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