The mall culture that began in early 2000s, has deeply sunk into Indian consumers’ psyche. Despite challenging times, including the recession of 2007-08 and the advent of e-commerce businesses, the number of malls mushrooming in the country has not slowdown. By 2017-end, there were more than 600 operational malls across the country. Interestingly, more than 30 new shopping malls covering nearly 14 million sq ft area are expected to come up across top eight cities by 2020. Today, malls have become standalone brands. To stay relevant, they have adopted new-age technologies from design and construction stage to the final end-user experience, which is what drives footfalls. Some leading malls in and around NCR offer a unique experience to consumers like: DLF’s Mall of India in Noida has an indoor ski-range (Ski India). The Great India Place in Noida, popularly known as GIP, has a water park and one of the best kids play zones in the business (Worlds of Wonder and Kidzania).
The Grand Venice Mall in Greater Noida is a tourist destination with its Venetian theme which includes gondola rides and provides a distinctly European feel. The second-largest mall in the country in terms of area, World Trade Park in Jaipur has a unique display feature wherein 24 projectors create a single image on its ceiling. Other prominent malls that are doing exceptionally well in the North include DLF Promenade and Select City in Saket, DLF Cyberhub and Ambience Mall in Gurugram, and DLF City Centre in Chandigarh.
Down South, Lulu International Mall in Kochi, touted to be the largest mall in the country, is creatively using technology-based novelties to offer a highly differentiated experience. These include new-age technologies like geo-fencing, beacon technology and Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR). It also uses technology to interact with its customers and keep them abreast on the latest activities within the mall. Another case in point is the Phoenix Market City mall chain in Bengaluru and Chennai, marquee developments in the retail real estate space that have established themselves as lifestyle and entertainment destinations. Going by such a stupendous performance, Tier II cities like Thiruvananthapuram and Mangalore have also opted for malls, with the former seeing the launch of Mall of Travancore early this year.
The Western region has its own share of success stories. The Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) houses some of the most iconic shopping centres such as Inorbit Mall, High Street Phoenix and Infinity Mall, among others. Neighbouring Pune, with its more generous land availability, has malls like Phoenix Market City, Amanora Town Centre and Seasons Mall.
Today, malls and online shopping work in tandem. They have to come together to offer truly an exceptional experience to its consumers. Malls need to transform into community spaces to stay relevant to the increasingly discerning Indian customers. Besides an ambient shopping, Indian consumers expect comfort and enablement at every level from their mall visit. Mall developers are on a steep learning curve as they try to figure out how to inspire customers, who are not just shoppers but experience-seekers, to not only stay longer but to return. As a result, Indian malls today are constantly striving to become prominent ‘shoppertainment’ locations. For now, e-commerce and malls have learned to co-exist in India.