The Indian Retail Industry no longer consists of irregular family run efforts but has evolved into an Organised Well Managed Business off-late. It is of critical importance that this beginning should be properly channeled in a coordinated way, so that it grows. This sector has much potential for growth as only 4% of India’s Retail Industry consists of the organised sector unlike Malaysia, where it is 55%, Thailand, where it is 40% and 20% in China. Consumers, however, have now shown tastes and preferences for an enjoyable shopping experience along with this growth. Now, there is more than 40 million sq.ft. of retail space operating over 130 malls in this country. Within the next 3 years, the development would be more than 100 millions sq.ft. in the fast growing organised retail and within next 5 years, it may reach an average of 200 million. The success of the development now depends on the factors of differentiation and convenience as there is such a large scale of mall supply.
The condition of development of malls in this day is well summed up in the words of the famous General George S. Patton-‘If everyone is thinking alike, then someone isn’t thinking’. Rather than the planning, the speed of construction and marketing are what are typical of the sudden spate in the growth of malls of 4,000,000 sq.ft. from those of 150,000 sq.ft. make up this retail space. There would be a peculiar set of challenges in the operation of each development incumbent upon size, location, ownership patterns and positioning. There would be sharp competition among these malls and the ability of a mall to adjust to the needs of the consumer and provide the needed experience and merchandise to its customers would decide its survival.
The management of the business is what decides the success of malls. Just as Airline Passengers choose which Airline to fly According to the Services provided, Developing a Mall is also akin to establish a business unit. There are many aspects to the management of retail space beginning with the planning, design, infrastructure, trade mix, and tenant mix, operations, planning peak emergencies and marketing. The success and sustenance of the mall depends on each of these.
First of all, the development has to be rightly positioned and it is necessary to pinpoint the Personality of the Development and specify the Target Audience with their requirements. Retailers should be given an outstanding shopping experience. The customers should be given enough reason to make them walk through the mall and Each Zone in it should be Exciting and Enjoyable for them. This would keep the cycle of retailer attraction and customer satisfaction continuing. A mall of an average size would produce Indian Rupee (INR) 6 billion annually and give employment to 800-1000 people. The activity behind the scenes should be well-planned so that it does not interfere with the experience of the customer. Chaos can be avoided by planning services and back end infrastructure in advance. Time spent by the consumer in parking should also be reduced to the minimum by careful planning on the part of the retailer.
A mall should be well-planned so that it can take care of the hardware of the mall development and should carefully choose the trade and tenant mix because it helps in the day to day aspects of the shopping experience. A very patient approach is needed while keeping retailers in the mall. The time factor must always be kept in mind by the Developer and the best retail formats should be brought in. Economic Activity in the Catchment Area must be foreseen and leases planned with different Retailers in a way that will be flexible for repositioning the mall in days to come.
The whole purpose of the mall operating efficiently is to meet the needs of the Shoppers and make way for the success of the Retailers who are the Business Partners. The peak and non-peak business hours or days have to be planned and the malls need Special Staff for meeting the needs of the Shoppers during peak hours, sale time and the festive season for convenience. The benefit of the Retailers lies in the maximum amount of time spent in the mall by the Customer. There should be an effective plan for any emergencies in this business centre to ensure the safety of the Customers. There should be regular safety drills and the mall and Retailers Staffs have to be trained to Assist Shoppers at such times.
All mall operations should be efficient, effective and transparent. Provisions for the Common Area Maintenance (CAM) must be made by the Retailers who run their shops in different malls or they should pay the service charge as it applies to them. The CAM charge should not be made different each month and a budget for the service charge should be made for major repairs well in advance by the Operator of the mall and a yearly budget should also be prepared for the operations. This will bring in discipline to the functioning and give improved control.
The time, when the Shopper decides to enter the shop, and not when he enters, it will be largely influenced by the Retailer’s Treatment of Space. Factors in a high street shop such as the signage, neat footpath, parking ease and entrance into the shop are the initial steps the Customer takes in relation to the Retailer. While selecting and designing the store, it is necessary to consider these points. The Retailers must make sure that there is good signage and clear corridors in the shop what is important is the interaction with the Customer, the easy possibility of looking through the goods and the appearance, display and feel of the store. The layout of the store is the first introduction of the brand to the Customer. The brand’s image can be made or broken through this and therefore needs to be carefully planned. Buying on impulsive is likely to be more frequent in a warm and organised atmosphere.
This kind of organised retail in shopping malls is still a novel idea in India. Few Professionals are available with experience in the field to manage it. There is lack of exposure to the finer aspects of retailing and managing retail realty. It is hard to employ retail Professionals with experience for both Retailers and Developers. To help us to learn, we need to import the knowledge, processes and procedures and for a long term solution, invest in training and making professional courses in order to obtain a suitable pool of talent.
There are innumerable opportunities for Retailers and Consumers given the size of the Indian Retail Market and the increased consumption expenditures and retail sales. The choice of a mall to shop in might become the problematic decision for the Consumer. As there are raising incomes and induction of Western lifestyles, quality and experience matter the most. High Quality and Standards of Services will create a Lasting Impression on the Consumers.