A booming middle-class is fuelling India’s real estate sector

Launched in early 2000, Infiniti Malls, a subsidiary of K. Raheja Constructions, has carved a niche for itself in the Mumbai Mall retail space and is a name to reckon with when it comes to providing popular options for mall-goers along with the right mix of retailers, entertainment, and food that go towards making a mall successful. We spoke to Mr. Mukesh Kumar, Senior Vice President, Infiniti Malls on their mantra for success…

Infiniti Malls is a popular chain of Malls, located in the western suburbs of Mumbai. It has carved a niche as a reliable, multi-brand destination – both for the retailers and for the people visiting the malls. Both your formats are unique in the mix of retailers, space and target groups. Can you elaborate and tell us about both your projects and what has been different about each approach?
Located conveniently between the suburbs of Andheri and Borivali that accommodates approximately 3.5 to 4.5 million people, both the malls cater to all the needs of every family member and are within the easy reach from railway stations, metro stations and on major arterial roads.
The first mall was launched in 2004 at Oshiwara, Link Road in Andheri, West and is spread across 3,10,000 square feet with 65 stores, a six-screen multiplex (PVR Icon), food court, family entertainment centre and restaurants besides shopping options.
The second mall was opened in 2011 and located on New Link Road in Malad, West. Spread across 12,00,000 square feet with more than 180 shopping brands is one of the biggest malls in Mumbai. The mall also houses a multiplex with five screens, F&B outlets within 35,000 square feet food court and FEC spread over 60,000 square feet area under the brand Fun City. Rides like Astro Express – the only indoor 360 roller coaster in the country, Techno Pop, Play Maze, Drop Tower etc. are some of the other Italian designed rides and Arcade games that are available within the mall.

Do you think online shopping is posing a threat to active footfalls in Malls in India lately?
The world of retail is being re-envisioned by emerging technology and changing customer behaviour drastically. As shoppers are becoming more tech-savvy, the lines between online and brick-and-mortar shopping are blurring, resulting in the retail world to adopt this development.
We are seeing a very serious trend of the convergence of physical and digital retailing. Consumers searching online and buying offline along with the Omnichannel options like click & block. There is a crossing of paths between the physical and digital retail experience. The malls are now having a large part to play in connecting the retailers and consumers both physically and digitally.

In this very competitive age wherein customers have short attention spans, how do you manage to engage them to ensure footfalls?
No longer are malls primarily about shopping. Now, when consumers visit malls, they are looking for experiences that go well beyond traditional shopping. Moreover, sustainability concerns are causing some consumers to prefer mixed-use developments where they can live, shop and work all conveniently. Going by the latest trend and shift of consumer choices, Infiniti Mall is not only expanding its brand portfolio but bringing extraordinaire experience to its visitors through innovative events, entertainment and dining options. The mall has recently added ‘Funcity’ – one of the leading entertainment centres to make the mall a true community centre.

We are the only mall to have 360° indoor roller coaster ride. Along with various shopping brands across different categories, we provide one of the largest entertainment centres. Additionally, we have a movie theatre with multiple screens for our patrons to watch the latest movies along with their loved ones. Also, Infiniti Mall keeps hosting an array of innovative events such as Christmas Carnivals, Fun Mania, Big Binge, Food Festivals, Funotsav etc. to provide a great experience to its consumers. It is one of the preferred destinations when it comes to hosting fashion shows, workshops and more. Our flat 50 per cent sale twice a year is something makes us unique for our visitors.

How important do you think it is to be innovative and flexible in the Mall management process to ensure success?
A booming middle class is fuelling India’s retail sector and motivating their purchase power along with better customer experience. Considering the demographics of customers who are most likely to indulge in shopping, dining and some good time with their beloved ones, providing the right mix of brands, entertainment and dining options is the key. Engaging them through various innovative events and activities will allow them to spend more time in a mall.

What advice would you give to Mall developers and managers based on your experience?
E-commerce will continue to grow giving one more channel to the consumers to shop. Malls have to be extra careful from now on and create new touch points for people, in the days to come. The differentiator will be experiential shopping. Some of the segments have been impacted by the e-commerce like electronics, footwear, books etc. The one very important service that online shopping lack in is human interaction with adequate sales assistants. Having knowledgeable staff to help-out customers and answer all their queries can successfully convert a potential buyer into a regular one.

What are your future plans?
To concentrate more on our marketing & customer service strategies so that more events & promotions can give a push in terms of footfalls & Sales. Also, Infiniti World rewards program will be developed when we will be better customer focused. Additionally, we will be continuing our best practices & will enhance our services to try offering infinite experiences to our customers under one roof. Along with Metro cities, Infiniti mall is looking to grow its portfolio in Tier II cities.

How do you ensure predicting the right mix in terms of attracting the right retailers to the segment and demographic where you are present in to be successful?
Shopping Centre is a traditional destination for families. However, retail by itself appears to no longer suffice as a draw for leisure experiences. Yes, families still come to a traditional Shopping Centres to buy what they need, but new entertainment destinations such as urban entertainment centres and location-based entertainment centres are appearing as a significant part of their mix.

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These new retail/restaurant/entertainment hybrids are capturing and increasing share of families’ limited disposable out-of-home leisure time and their retail spending. Malls have re-invented the wheel and embraced entertainment as an important driver to churn the fate of their centre.

What are the new trends that you see occurring globally that are worth exploring in the Indian urban market or the changing Indian consumer context?
Retail business of the future will tailor their omnichannel experiences to satisfy customers and boost sales. This also means the use of beacon technology to push offers and product suggestions to shoppers in-store. More transactions will be conducted via mobile devices like smartphones, etc. The industry will see the emergence of new and more streamlined payment gateways in the coming future. Offline retailers need to have the access to the same tools available for their customers and should try employing it widely. Whether using analytics to map where people walk and what they pick up to position products in better way in the stores or tracking shoppers at the device level to target promotions to them, data will be used to understand customers and increase sales.

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