Malls – One-stop retail shopping destinations!


The Christmas festive season is almost here, as is the end of another year and we look for the best in the New Year. The past 2 years have probably been one of the biggest testing times for the retail industry, especially for physical retail. In the wake of the last year, which seen many known retail brands going bankrupt or shuttering stores, debates on whether physical retail would witness an apocalypse because of the rise of online shopping have been happening across the industry; but it seems like the predictors of the doom of physical retail have been silenced, thanks to the reinvention of retail.

Malls still face a threat from e-commerce shopping due to rising number of consumers preferring to shop online. The major reasons being a wide range of options available online, more discounts on online purchases, convenience of shopping from home while avoiding crowds and even reducing the chances impulse shopping. One of the major debates were whether malls would survive the online shopping or e-commerce onslaught, but the numbers are in favor of shopping in a mall. A recent survey indicated that more than 60% of consumers would visit the mall for apparel shopping as opposed to shopping for clothing online, and another 39% prefer to go to the malls, not only to explore multiple retail brands in one location, but also try on and compare clothing options. Malls offer strategic advantages which are still a hit among consumers.

One of the biggest clicks for shoppers visiting malls is the tangibility of products. Brick-and-mortar retail has thrived on the ‘touch-and-feel’ feature that shoppers love when it comes to purchasing apparel, footwear and other items. Moreover, most retail brands would be present in malls and this allows shoppers a fair opportunity to explore different brands belonging to similar categories and then take a conscious decision on what to buy, from where. Another major advantage that malls offer is socializing. Consumers prefer shopping with family and friends or even interacting with store associates to help them find the right product, as they find it easier to seek opinions and then make a purchase. In addition to this, malls are a one stop destination for shopping, entertainment and eating, thus offering wholesome experiences to shoppers for their time and money.

The bottom line is that malls and e-commerce will continue to coexist as consumers will always look at multiple options to satisfy their shopping needs. However, the catch is to ensure customers get what they want and retail brands are able to do that no matter which channel they use.

Finally! A Retail revival, but for whom?

Two years ago I wrote about the struggles of the retail industry in my article “Retail is dead! Long live Retail”, it’s nice to see some of the predictions in this article come true! Time to reflect and see what’s next.

The US retail market, the bellwether of the industry, has finally started growing again. Retail sales are surging, up 6.4% YOY from last year this July. Store closures are down 22%.

The growth is being led by Retailers who are getting the consumer back, bringing e-commerce like service to their customers, with click and collect and curb-side pickups, concierge services, frictionless returns, store to home deliveries, and many other services. While physical retail is back, e-commerce continues to grow, interestingly a major part of this digital growth is being driven by retail giants like Walmart.

At the same time, we are seeing a number of brands and retailers heading down the slippery slope. Some of them household names. The market is clearly being divided into those who will make it and those who will not. These retailers have closed unprofitable stores, cut costs, reduced manpower, rejigged their pricing and merchandise, yet they are not able to make it out of the downward spiral. So what is the reason? Since we work with retailers across 22 countries and see some of our customers and friends in both categories, we can clearly see the difference in their approach. Some retailers see technology investments and related service costs as a necessary evil, they do not see them as strategic tools to help them win this wave of transformation both in the industry and the minds of consumers. These are the retailers who are endangered, though they can still turn around if they change their mindsets.

On the other had there are a number of retailers who are quietly embarking on large internal projects to change the way they work with consumers and the service levels they provide, transforming their technology and online presence, bringing Omni-channel and self-service initiatives to the table and using smart ways to price right and brand right and promote the right products to the right consumers. They have brought in change in their existing teams and brought on board a number of new retail experts, worked closely and deeply with technology and supply chain partners, malls and banks to bring about the transformation that’s required. They are making great progress and have a shot at winning the retail race.

The race is still open, and like in any race, there will be winners and losers. May the best retailers win!

This article has been written by:

mr-naresh-ahujaNaresh Ahuja, Chairman and CEO, ETP Group

Naresh as the Founder, Chairman and CEO of the ETP Group leads the company with a clear focus on bringing enduring value to customers through best practices mirrored in software applications. Spanning 30 years of focus on retail domain expertise and IT development, ETP today, has a strong customer base of market leaders in more than 22 countries across Asia Pacific, India and the Middle East, and is Asia’s leading Omni-channel Retail Software company.