2005/06 – Baroda, Ahmedabad, Surat, – New Destinations, money to burn, places to acquire, malls to be built.

2008 – Malls ready, high rentals, brands occupying, supposedly great footfalls BUT no conversion. And some have changed hands, closed so on & forth.

WHY? WHY? WHY?

It is correct that the Mall Developers, Retail Guru’s, Brand Managers have had umpteen surveys conducted, advertised, brought in hordes of people then why is it not happening?

Having substantial exposure to the Gujarat Market over the years – concept selling – courier in angadia dominated market way back in 1987-89; selling international tours during 1995-1999; introducing the website concept during the website boom of 1999-2000 & finally Jewellery retail during 2005-2008, I finally managed to cull some thoughts – obvious though they may seem & possibly tried out, but if not, can help….

Observations:

Good Malls, with facilities
(But the cost is where there is a problem, Parking, convenience to road etc)
Mall Science applied
(Technically brilliant, but the ABS(amdavadis, barodians, surti’s) are more used to high street shopping with a series of clothing stores, jewellery, brands & more importantly not viewed at times by others, which is impossible in a mall)
Food Courts
(Same food at the signature restaurants is a tad cheaper & fresh acc to visitors:))

ABS tried these out for a while, going on a Saturday, Sunday afternoon post lunch, looked at the stores, basked in the AC environment after parking their cars outside the mall, in order to save the Rs. 20/-. Compared the prices, went up to the food court, glanced around or ordered the most economical item and then quietly went off to Honest for dinner & Patel’s for ice cream.

What they did not like was the prices (parking, food, stores – all due to the costs); inconvenience (parking outside, since at heart all of them are cowboys – why walk when you can ride ); to be seen buying in a mall(some specific items lifestyle or otherwise); inability to haggle( though the offers were good, but in which case were they selling genuine stuff?); inability to understand the Private label element that is introduced quickly.

And the share market is booming; Why spend/consume when you can save?

AND therein today lies the answer:

Shopping centers christened as malls in some places seem to be doing decent business.
But the Malls do not see footfalls, do not see inventory turn around, do not see conversion, do not see higher ticket values.
So as a business decision, you see big bazaar, reliance closing , tightening belts so on & forth.

What I fail to understand is……

In spite of everyone – retailers, advertisers, marketing, product, brand managers speaking about evolving markets, need to communicate etc. do not understand the ground realities but depend on the dip stick study method, or buy studies off the shelf. Consumers who are more entrepreneur, SME, traders, stock brokers (who also work in some cases) are difficult customers, whose normal questions being, can I get credit (not credit card), save money & look great in what I buy are not answered.

In discussion with a few of these marketing people, I was asked then why is adidas, levis, arrow, reebok selling. Time, Distribution, Access is what has helped these brands – – most of these brands were known for the past 25-30 years when VFR(visiting friends & relatives) brought them & they were hoarded for years together. Then for the past 10-12 years they are available at the neighborhood apparel, shoe stores before they opened their own signature stores all which sell genuine, guaranteed stuff- so why the Mall.

It is time for the Malls & retailers to realize that Relationship & Time are the two critical elements that work best for ABS – Try that out & they shall willingly pay more & love you……

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Written by AD
ex waiter, angadia, travel agent, dotcomer, dukaandaar, marketeer, people watcher. appreciates single malt, food, friends