The emergence and growing mall culture in India is a reflection of changing lifestyles attributed to globalization and of course to the rise in disposable incomes of the Indian household.
The mall trend, which started off in the metros, has spread to Tier-II and Tier-III towns and is still going strong. With consumer taste evolving and brand-consciousness gaining momentum, the trend is here to stay.
At the same time, a lot of malls are already struggling to attract consumers and even retailers. Reports available in public domain estimate that there are between 600 and 700 operational malls in India, and that a few have shut shop and some others stay unfinished.
So what does this contrasting scenario (and a challenging one for mall owners) indicate?
The `growing competition’ is one of the obvious answers that not all malls are attracting the footfall that may have been originally perceived when their project was conceived. There is, however, another and not so obvious rationale behind this ironical situation. Multiple studies suggest that while the `Indian on the move’ is increasingly shopping more at swanky malls, they are spoil for choice and which is resulting in a behavior shift now being referred to `diminishing customer loyalty’.
Clearly, an existing mall owner as well as those who endeavor to set up a mall, will have to address both the challenges to be able to build a sustainable model, which is both short- and long-term. Short-term sustainability is critical for the mall owner as well as the occupant retailers to have a healthy cash flow essential to keep them going. Long-term sustainability is particularly important for the mall owner to recover the high capital cost incurred on the development of the project.
Proactive consumer engagement is the thing to do to mitigate both the challenges in question and build a sustainable mall business model. It’s a no-brainer that the consumer of today is spending much more time on his mobile device. The best way to then connect with the consumer and to engage them is on that very platform – the mobile device.
An Indian – both an urbanite and one living in the rural hinterland – is using the smart mobile device for multiple uses that go beyond communication. These multiple uses plays games, listening to songs, watch videos to access information, pay bills, books accommodation / travel tickets and practically everything else.
So what is the interface between the consumer and the different services being used?
It’s the Mobile App!
Apps automatically answers the main question of how to `proactively engage the consumer’ to address the dual challenge of `growing competition’ and `diminishing customer loyalty’.
A branded Mobile App of a shopping mall is sure to help the mall owner and its occupants attract higher footfall and more importantly, retain their customers in the long run.
A mall can offer free Wi-Fi zone and encourage visitors to download their branded Mobile App while the visitor is being welcomed inside the mall. The visitors can be presented with some special offer or a discount coupon to download the Mobile App.
The branded Mobile App will also benefit the mall visitors by:
- Providing details and location of all the brands present in that mall
- Offering discount offers / other schemes from the retailers
- Responding with required information (eg., availability of medical aid, eateries, conveniences, ATMs, etc.)
- Pushing notifications for festivals / events / special offers that may be launched in future
Other than the above, many more features can be bundled into the Mobile App to entice the consumer and ensure a mesmerizing shopping experience for them. The natural result of such an awesome experience is `heightened consumer engagement’, wanting the consumer to re-visit and experience the same delight in every visit to the mall.
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