by Anushree Ghosh
Online shopping has changed the seller-buyer relationship entirely. The only way for the traditional retail industry to strengthen its foothold is to attract consumers through innovative strategies. Malls continuously reposition their business to attract customers. They are no longer limited to shopping but have become ‘experience centres’.
They have traditionally rented out their space to companies that have the monetary strength to pay in rough times. But presently, the foreign and national brand outlets are predominantly ruling the space at shopping malls which take the limelight from the local retailers, for the best available space. And, in case an anchor store is closed, it becomes a herculean task to find a replacement due to its lasting impact, if a suitable substitute is not found in time; shopping malls could face a loss that could take years to get back on track.
However, they are now planning different ways to provide space for small businesses as well. Malls appeal to all age groups who belong to various social and economic backgrounds. With the changing trend, mall managements are using the available space to add various business operations, like co-working offices, party areas and zones dedicated to dating. The expansion scheme of the malls has restaurants, bowling alleys, gaming zones, and salons in the plan, something that can’t be substituted by online shopping.
Real estate company, CapitaLand plans to set up Beijing based Co working space – UR Work, in the malls. They believe this concept could lead to minimalistic use of space with a flexible approach. They are also diversifying to woo the businesses related to the welfare of children, like playgrounds, activity and language classes. Today, entertainment and F&B occupy 15-20% of the total available space at malls, as compared to 5-10% a few years ago.
In Cochin, opening of Lulu Mall gave a tough competition to Oberon Mall, these two situated at a distance less than half a kilometer played with consumers’ mind to get maximum footfalls. Oberon Mall got small retailers to position it differently, 20 small stores were set up on the third floor, replacing a furniture shop. Neighborhood Mall in Bengaluru began to attract the relatively smaller brands from the tier-II cities to differentiate itself from VR and Inorbit mall. They collaborated with ‘Loyal Word’ based out of Mysore and were in talks with Harsha Electronics, based in Mangalore.
In India, shopping is considered a part of celebration for occasions like wedding, birthday, festivals or family time out, this makes people buy something for each other to sense the ceremonious moment. Malls are using this Indian sentiment by giving temporary spaces in the alleys to the local retailers for the specific days.
With the cut-throat competition among the local retail stores, location becomes a primary concern for driving sales and in the consumer driven world – the stagnating and declining productivity per store need a rejuvenating punch. To allure customers, stores are conceiving new ideas every day, to fulfill customer’s need, materialistically and psychologically.
Anushree is a versatile writer, theatre actress with an immense passion for any form of art. Her blogs will take you through the different horizons of infraculture stories.