Today, the future of physical retail especially malls seem questionable due to coronavirus pandemic. Experts say, the key to survival is reinvention.
According to a report, the retail sector was expected to recover ~80% of pre-Covid revenue (amounting to US$ 780 billion) by end-2020. And when this sector was on the verge of recovery by Feb 2021, second brutal wave of corona hit it hard.
Many retail brands were almost achieving 95-100% of the revenue as pre-covid times, with this second wave were again put under government scrutiny and later closed.
The Executive Director of Pacific group mentioned that shopping centres have already been complying with the strictest of norms and safety protocols to ensure visitor and staff well-being at all times.
There are even multiple associations that are in touch with the government to push through the fact that malls are safe places and it has been an arduous effort for the industry to get back on its feet. While, these efforts seem to be effective only to become operational again, the real question is:
Why would a consumer will go to malls, when they can shop online?
To answer this, strategies going forward should be like:
1. Safety and hygiene, before anything else
One thing this pandemic has taught us for good is keeping safety and hygiene is most important. Therefore, malls and other retail outlets have to continue this safety protocol of customer interaction, payment interfaces and product convenience keeping protection at top priority.
2. Re-inventing the destination
Malls are no longer a place to go only for shopping, quick salon services or QSRs because all these things have come to our doorstep via online platforms. In order to keep going in long run malls have to reincarnate themselves as office spaces, gym and spa, service apartments, not just salons but beauty clinics or a place for cultural interactions. There are couple of such high street malls with the similar concept coming up in Greater Noida West and other parts of Delhi NCR.
3. Keeping the right store/format
Mall owners have to rethink about the stores they are letting out whether or not they are essential to a customer. Hoarding up franchise stores with performance issues would not be good idea instead flagship stores and pop-up store format would be rather beneficial.
4. Going digital is a necessity
It is needless to say that today adapting technology is more important than ever. This year many retail brands saved themselves from taking the big hit because they launched their online platforms last year itself. Not only online presence but digitization is necessary even for offline stores for customer convenience, increased efficacy and greater engagement.
5. More focus on food retail
Food has always been an enabler to pull more crowd. People like to socialize in a place where they can sit, eat and drink. Introduction of unique food formats and cuisines will definitely draw more attention.