Do not consider e-commerce as a challenge; omni-channel is the way ahead for retail: Abhishek Bansal

Tanya Krishna
Tanya Krishna Oct 29 2017 - 7 min read
Do not consider e-commerce as a challenge; omni-channel is the way ahead for retail: Abhishek Bansal
In conversation with Abhishek Bansal, Executive Director, Pacific India Group, who spoke about the mall’s new strategies, its initiatives and future plans.

The shopping malls have evolved over the years – from being just a shopping destination, to becoming a family entertainment zone. And Pacific Mall, Tagore Garden, one of Delhi’s premium shopping, entertainment and leisure destination went an extra mile to ensure that it remains the city’s favourite. Pacific Mall recently introduced over a dozen new retail brands and restaurants for its customers. As a part of the new brand outlook and strategy, the group also unveiled its new brand identity and logo. Some of the new brands that found its space at the mall are Superdry, GAP, Armani Exchange, Mango, Dune Hamleys, Nike Kicks Lounge, Asics, Metro Shoes, Baggit and Arrow Sports. Abhishek Bansal, Executive Director, Pacific India Group, gets candid with Franchise India about the mall’s new brand image and logo, its omni-channel strategy, importance of entertainment centres and food courts in malls, its eco- friendly measures, etc. Excerpts from the interview…..

What does the new logo of the mall and brand image stand for?
The new logo highlights the brand’s vision of delighting people and their style of living by introducing the elements of ‘Art of Leisure’. The logo signifies a formal and stylish font depicting class and an instinct for finer things. The stark white lettering stands for clarity and black background connotes all things premium. Designed for the discerning, the floral icon appears as a single diamond marking its place without being ostentatious about it. The evolution of Pacific Mall’s logo signifies change in the brand's attitude by showcasing itself as a progressive, powerful and innovative mall which aims to provide international shopping experience to its customer. The premium brand mix, absolute dining and entertainment alternatives and array of services ensure that every visit to Pacific Mall is a mesmerising experience in itself for anyone who walks into the mall.

Pacific Mall is revamping its retail portfolio with 18 new Global and Indian brands. Tell us about these brands. How will the entry of these brands help the mall in revamping its image and outlook?
Since we opened the mall around 7 years back, we came with a promise of offering the latest that was in the market in terms of brands. Every year, there are new brands entering India or new brands being developed within the country and we try and keep up with whatever change is coming in the market which is relevant to our consumers and we keep updating the brand. There is a continuous process of addition and subtraction of the brands from our mall, as and when required.

How important is location as a mall opening strategy?
As the saying goes, in any real estate project the three most important things are: location, location and location. And same applies for a shopping mall as well. However, when we talk about building a mall, we look at many other things; Besides the nature of that particular market and how are the people around and how is the catchment area, you also need to look at how the people will reach to that location, what is the driving distance from the nearest residential area, what is the nearest flyover, how are the people going to enter the property or exit the property, where is the closest metro station, is it at the walking distance, etc. So, all of these things add up for us while finalising a location for a shopping centre.

How do you maintain that USP of a mall?
Every mall has different offering and a different USP. If it’s a premium centre, we market it as a premium centre; and if it’s a regular value centre, we market it as one, in order to maintain its USP.

Tell us about family entertainment centres and foot courts and their importance in malls?
About 25- 30 percent of a mall’s area these days are now dedicated to entertainment, which includes multiplexes, family entertainment centres, food courts, restaurants, etc. The revenue generated from entertainment sections may range from Rs.400 per sq.ft. to Rs.1,500 per sq.ft. and in food options, it reaches upto about Rs.2,000 per sq.ft.

What support services are you offering to your consumers? What are the technical advancements leveraged in your malls?
Support services are the backbone of any successful retail establishment today, be it shopping malls or mixed-use retail developments. Technology plays an important role and increasingly mall owners are adapting the latest that technology has to offer in terms of management and engagement solutions.

We use Cloud based applications to empower teams to help them deliver higher productivity and efficiency. Latest in technology and operational systems are one of the biggest enablers for us and we have deployed some of the latest innovative programs in technology such as the completely automated system for logging and tracking of complaints, use of advanced software for Mall management and operations for tracking, audits and data management, centralized one point system to track consumption of all utilities throughout the mall. We have invested in state-of-the-art security management service and surveillance systems and an International Mall Management company (PPZ) to help us maintain these high standards at mall.

A lot many companies are working towards sustainable growth and eco- friendly measures for a better world. What is Pacific Mall doing in these lines?
As part of Prime Minister's Swachh Bharat (Clean India) mission, Pacific Mall in Tagore Garden has set its eyes on collecting, segregating and processing 500 kg of organic waste generated everyday to convert it into compost for use in the Mall’s horticulture division. Pacific Mall has installed a garbage decomposition machine with a capacity of 500 kg per cycle. The entire process takes 24- 36 hours to complete one cycle of decomposition process.

This is part of the ongoing energy conservation at the mall. The mall has taken other such initiatives like:

- Pacific Mall, in association with West zone of South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), launched a new campaign, 'Let's Go Green and Blue’. The famous Commonwealth Games wrestling gold medalist sisters Geeta Phogat and Babita Phogat were invited to promote proper segregation of waste and to dispose and re-use of waste through recycling process.

- Encourage the use of recyclable bags and paper bags with 100 percent adherence.

- Usage of LED lighting across all floors and encouraged to reduction of carbon monoxide emission and consumption of less energy.

- The greenery around the mall is planned in such a way that it helps to reduce the heat surrounding the mall and load on HVAC system

- Has a well-equipped sewage treatment plant which helps the mall to recycle water for daily mall operations.

How important or relevant is being omni-channel for malls?
The future of retail is omni-channel. This trend towards an omni-channel strategy will enable retailers to re-think their business strategy in order to tap the best of both worlds and maximise on footfalls. Over the years, customer preferences have undergone a metamorphosis, influenced by a global influx of brands, growing economy, increase in customer spending and demand for the latest trends in fashion, fitness, dining and lifestyle. Pacific Mall is one of the most popular and preferred complete family entertainment and lifestyle destination in Delhi NCR today. Over the years, Pacific Mall has become synonymous with entertainment, fine dining and the latest collection of brands and trends in fashion and lifestyle.

Are malls suffering in terms of sales and revenue, on account of mega sales being offered at majority of e-commerce websites?
We haven’t noticed that in our centres because what is being offered online versus what is being offered offline are two very different things. I think the customer now knows what he wants and what he will get online. I do not consider e-commerce sales as a big challenge. Its anyways very small market as compared to the total retail market of the country. E-commerce covers only about 4- 5 percent of the market right now. So, they don’t really make any difference to the sales of the malls currently.

What does future behold for malls in India?
It’s just the beginning. The market has just started to open up for malls and with the investment coming in from the international funding companies and also the way the malls are being built now, it’s just the beginning of a new era for shopping centres.

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