tvsdesign Retail Expert Donna Childs discusses the strong retail traditions in India and how they are evolving
Indian consumers, like shoppers in Western countries, are looking for more than just a wide selection of retail outlets mingled in a single location. They are seeking a shopping experience that makes them feel comfortable, encourages them to stay longer and, more importantly, persuades them to return.
We at tvsdesign call this “placemaking.” Placemaking means creating mall designs that meet shoppers’ needs for more than just goods and services, it means crafting a relaxed “resort retail” environment that allows consumers to take home a memorable experience.
As we work with developers in a number of countries, we have observed and helped develop a number of trends that India developers can leverage into successful “places”:
Create tall, wider and grander mall spaces – North Country Mall in Punjab is a good example. A “porous” design that provides large spaces and breaks the solid portions of the building apart – is much more comfortable for shoppers than tight, cramped spaces.
Integrate retailers into the placemaking creation – Modern mall design should make tenants an integral part of the overall atmosphere. Larger store formats allow brands to expand offerings to appeal to shoppers, and higher ceilings accommodate taller storefronts so that tenants can express their brands to full advantage.
Reinvent food courts and dining destinations – Mall dining areas should be more than just “fuelling areas.” More sophisticated dining areas appeal to shoppers, with areas of quiet for older adults and areas of activity for young people – an intentional shift away from the feeling of a massive cafeteria. Mall Plaza Egaña in Santiago, Chile, is a good example of this, with restaurants on the roof of the mall that offer great views and open space. It creates a destination by combining food, cinema and other entertainment to create a destination.
Employ zonal retailing and merchandising – This concept is a new trend in malls in the West, which locate like tenants near each other for greater synergy and shopper convenience. North Country Mall takes it one step further, vertically “stacking” different price points and merchandise zones on different levels – a practice seldom seen in Western malls that permits a broader retail selection on a smaller geographic footprint. Combined with demographically allied elements like dining, entertainment and relaxing common areas, this strategy allows us to create common area spaces that relate to a particular merchandise strategy.
Consider the neighbourhood – Malls are not always welcome neighbours, so architects and designers must be sensitive to concerns of the communities surrounding the mall. Local residents of the “bohemian” neighbourhood in which Mall Plaza Egaña is located at first resisted the siting of the mall there, but became vocal supporters once they had seen the design. The community embraces the mall because it reflects who they are and what they care about – a sense of community, sustainable ideals, a reflection of their values and priorities – and not just a place to buy things
India is poised for major growth in organized retail and those developers who listen to and design for consumers will not only succeed, but will help make India a prime market for international retail brands.