Almost all the Grade A malls in India provide excellent support services and facilities for their visitors. Nevertheless, despite the massive progress seen so far in Indian malls, we have still to see the arrival of genuinely international standards.
Support services have become a major part in a mall’s image, and play a vital role in attracting footfalls. In India, facilities such as parking, security and housekeeping have evolved over the years to provide world-class services to mall customers. In fact, it can be said that support services are the backbone for any shopping mall. Moreover, with the growing popularity of e-tailing, a superlative experience and provision of outstanding facilities in malls have become even more important to give customers are reason to visit, shop and use malls as social destinations that go beyond just plain shopping.
The expectations and aspirations of the consumers have increased over the years. The differentiating factors for the shopping malls today have become offer of integrated value-added services and facilities. The ambit of key support services has also expanded to include more facilities and services. Services which were considered value-adds few years back are now basic requirements which any mall should provide.
These services include valet parking, pharmacies, clothes alteration and shoe repair, car wash, first aid, travel desks, rent-a-stroller facilities, baby feeding and changing rooms, privileged parking for women, wheelchair ramps and various forms of assistance for the differently-abled, digital mall directories, currency exchange, cab service on call, and concierge desks, among others.
India Vs. Global Standards
Almost all the Grade A malls in India provide excellent support services and facilities for their visitors. Nevertheless, despite the massive progress seen so far in Indian malls, we have still to see the arrival of genuinely international standards. In international malls, a variety of other support services such as lockers on rent, print and copy centres, tour buses, Metro ticket machines, coupon books, pet stations, prayer rooms, post boxes and security escort are provided to visitors. Some of these aspects are obviously dictated by the culture of a nation, while others have more to do with what other infrastructure and social facilities are available in a city.
For instance, The Dubai Mall offers superlative services and facilities to its visitors. It is a mall of truly international standards that caters especially to tourists from around the world. From personal shopping experience to tour buses and mobile charging stations to Metro ticket machines, it provides a genuinely bracing and superlatively convenient experience to shoppers and the tourists alike.
Not surprisingly, it is one of the most visited shopping and leisure destinations in the world, attracting over 92 million visitors in 2015 alone. It is also home to one of the world's largest aquariums and aquatic zoos, and other attractions that make it immensely popular.
The Role of Mall Management
Professional mall management is a critical component for the smooth functioning of a shopping mall, and we are seeing increasing adoption of such services by the mall developers. As the Indian retail real estate sector moves towards for greater sophistication and maturity, the demand for increasingly advanced and efficient mall management service providers will see a quantum forward leap.
In today’s dynamic market, it has now become imperative not only to manage shopping malls well but also keep the operational cost competitive for optimal net returns. Professional mall management ensures that all operational aspects of the shopping mall are taken care of in an integrated manner.
Support services are required in every region and each city as they attract the consumers to the mall, and mall management has become an integral factor that decides how successful a mall is. Today, consumers need a reason to come to malls over and above shopping. They expect a high quality of services, comfort and hassle-free shopping. An efficient customer interfacing strategy adds to the image of the mall and leads to repeated visits. Likewise, a clean and attractive ambiance, good infrastructure, efficient and sufficient parking facilities and frequent organization of events extends the stay of the consumers in the mall.
The writer is Managing Director - Retail Services at JLL India.