5 Dec 2018, 18:02 — 6 min read
It’s an exciting era for shopping malls in India. The Indian shopper, who not so long ago was reluctant to shop in a modern shopping environment, today asks the question, “What more can you give us?” Online shopping too has grown by leaps and bounds over the last couple of years. Suddenly, the discussion which once used to be organised retail vs unorganised retail, has now become online shopping vs offline shopping. With over 700 million USD being invested by private equity players in the first three quarters alone, and Amazon making a play to be the biggest online player in the Indian segment, these are exciting times for retail in India.
Shopping malls in India have never had it this good, to tell the truth. Almost every reputed player has recorded a double digit increase over the last year in their sales numbers. There are hundreds of small e-commerce players in India and only a handful of these are making a difference to consumption patterns. Much the same, my article shall take into account only performances of the better malls in India. Again, only a handful. This, in my opinion, will make this a battle amongst equals.
India being a cricket crazy country, let’s take some analogies /strategies from the game to see what shopping malls will need to do to maintain double digit growth:
Playing to one’s strengths
Remember the Sachin Tendulkar inning in Sydney, where he refused to play on the off? He scored 241* runs by sticking to the leg side. Like him, shopping malls too will need to focus on their strengths— touch, feel, experience. People will need to come out of their homes for food and entertainment. This is one area which will see a lot of traction in malls hereon.
Today, shopping malls have 10-15% dedicated to food and entertainment, five years hence, it may be well over 30% as it’s an experience that cannot be duplicated.
Innoventing (No, I haven’t spelt it wrong) will be the key
Ten years on, cricket had exhausted almost every shot. The pace bowlers were hurling dynamites at 150 kmph and the spinners kept the variations on with the doosra. In came the ‘Dilscoop’. It was an awkward shot...No, it was really an innovation—a reverse scoop. What I call an Innovation – Invention hybrid. Innovention! Shopping malls will need to do the same.
Technology will help decode your consumer too
Most people remember the cricketer Muralitharan. But does anyone remember Ajantha Mendis? The former took over a 1,000 wickets in cricket, the latter faded away. The reason: His art ceased being a mystery. Every ball of his, every action, everything was scrutinized to a point that the opponents knew exactly what he was going to do next. Technology decoded him within a year.
Tools like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Beacons, and heat sensors help decoding consumer behavior to their bare necessities today. S/he is no longer a lost face in a crowd. We have the ability to know everything about him/her… where s/he shops, when s/he shops and what s/he shops … and for whom s/he shops too! As much as 50% of all ad budgets were once wasted. Today, less than 20% can be wasted. Technology marketing aids from knowing your consumers, to targeting them with all that they need and when they need it, thereby reducing spends and time and focusing on what matters most — ROI that can be measured.
Viv Richards, Sehwag, Gilchrist and Jayasurya
In all this melee, never forget the pyrotechnics. These players had swag and bludgeoned the ball so bad that cricket lovers were mesmerized by them as much as their opponents. On their day, they pummelled the bowlers and the opposing team to submission.
Just the same, the marketing function needs to go all guns blazing to get the attention of the shopper. From big bang events to innovations during sale, to the intelligent use of Augmented Reality to gamify shopping, malls need to pull their biggest guns to woo the consumer. Steve Jobs said it right, ‘Consumers don’t know what they need till you show it to them.’ A thought simple enough to make Apple the most profitable company in the world with a handful of products. So, surprise the consumer with digital innovations, gamify augmented reality to boost sales and lend them an experience that keeps them coming back for more.
For shopping centres, the future is bright. Almost every online player today is looking to take stores in malls, just like every mall today is looking to the online platform and juxtapose it with offline delivery.
The key is to make it one grand celebration where everyone is in and the consumers never knows what the next theme is going to be like…after all they seldom know what they want. Or do they?
Article by Nishank Joshi published in STOrai Magazine. Nishank Joshi is the Chief Marketing Officer at Nexus Malls — a fully owned subsidiary of the Blackstone Group. Nishank has several years of experience working in the retail – real estate marketing space, during which he has successfully launched 7 malls and relaunched 3 others across India.
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