From vaccination drives to virtual celebration of prominent days like women’s day, Earth Day to running exciting offers and much more, shopping malls today are getting more recognised for their social initiatives. With the pandemic and the malls being shut for the larger part of last year and this year, these social ways of staying in touch with the customer earmarks the birth of a new era in retail.
“We have seen very early recovery this time, and have been getting quiet good footfalls. It may be also due to continuous vaccination drives which have boosted confidence in consumers to step out for their shopping needs. We are almost about to reach at the levels of pre pandemic in terms of both sales and footfalls within 45 days of reopening of the malls. There has been increased cost towards facilities demanded in this post- COVID era especially towards the regular sanitisation of the mall and new technical evolution of system equipment’s to enable contactless experience for consumer as much as possible from parking to food ordering, touch free mechanism is integrated in order to maintain complete hygiene,” Abhishek Bansal, Executive Director, Pacific Group mentions.
Making Malls Safe
“Shopping experience has been made completely contactless, latest technologies are adapted to demonstrate safe environment health and safety implementations. There are several steps taken in order to provide COVID free and safe environment to our guest. Regular disinfection of all touch points, health checks through infra-red cameras to detect temperatures’, occupancy display at each retail outlet for controlled social distancing at all stores, periodic fumigation at the mall, UV Disinfection of merchandise at stores. Software introduced at Parking and Food court for touch free experience at food ordering and parking access control systems. A personalised appointment-based shopping feature has been practiced in order to enhance experience of the guest. Pleasurable ambience with entertainment will remain our attempt to provide the extra mile to our valuable customers.
Safety First, Focus remains on facilitating an exceptional customer experience embracing technology capitalising on digital tools to ensure touch free shopping experience. Customers today are demanding safest environment in most convenient manner for hassle free shopping experience. We have dedicated spaces for WFM with good Wi-Fi speed provided to work while customers shop for longer hours at the mall. We have also focused on creating and building concepts for spaces in mall where people can meet & socialise with all daily amenities available. Some of these activities being per say carwash, florist, and pharmaceutical and specialised bakery shops. We are also trying to add unique food dining options, centralised spaces within the retail stores where they can pick up both online and offline purchases and make returns as well. With maximum retail stores, digital platforms are being added for the convenience of the customer in order to choose from wide range of products, even if it is not physically available to the store along with home delivery service,” Bansal further added.
Along with the fine and secure retail experience, Pacific Mall, Dehradun in the last year also introduced state of the art Contactless Food Ordering and Payments app at food courts; which is still in practice for encouraging cashless payment methods at all stores and food court counters. Plexi Glass screens at the checkout/payment terminals to avoid direct contact between customers and staff, are prevalent as an extra precaution.
“Experience remains the key, malls are no longer a place for only shop but it is a one stop experience for shopping, lifestyle and social. We offer extraordinary experiential elements to retail which is hard to replicate in the digital world. The benefits that physical spaces provide make up three of the top reasons why online retailers are setting up shop, including: multisensory consumer experiences, better logistics and consumer service offerings and strong, lasting brand relationships. The rise of Omni-channel retail strategies in which mobile, online and in-store experiences complement, rather than compete with, one another has ushered in a new era for online retailers. Consumers prefer to shop in-store and they spend six times more in-store than online. Nothing beats holding a product in your hand, feeling the fabric and seeing the minute details – something that can’t be done online. We have noticed that consumers want to try on or touch merchandise before they make a purchase. Physical shopping centers allow consumers to do just this — interact with a range of products to make informed decisions about what they’re buying.
Furthermore, physical stores have been busy retrofitting their spaces with technological advancements that make the in-store customer experience more efficient, which effectively eliminates the guessing games encountered online. There has been a great shift made in terms of communication strategy from traditional methods of newspaper, OOH Media to relying more upon social handles with new media planning and execution in most unique manner has helped to continuously be in touch with our consumer. Building on the customer’s customised needs is the key to drive engagement from them in such circumstances. For doing this, each brand must have a digital platform that addresses every need of the associated customer from inquiries, selections, customisation, etc.
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