The business of shopping malls is among the several businesses that have been severely dented by the COVID-19 pandemic as COVID-19 has changed not only the behavior of the consumers but also their expectations from the retailers and the malls.
It has become mandatory for malls to provide safe and secure shopping options to consumers during these tough times. The shopping centers have been working on creating a contactless and personalized experience to attract patrons.
Elaborating on the steps taken by Phoenix MarketCity Chennai, Pooja Patti, Centre Director says, “We have invested in touchless software systems and artificial-intelligence-based technology to ensure a safe environment inside our premises. We have partnered with Unifynd to further enhance our premium mall experience and rewards program, ‘Phoenix Nhance’. It enables us to engage with the customer in real-time, drive personalized communications about their favorite brands, gift exclusive rewards, discounts, and experiences right at their fingertips.”
Digitalization: The Need of the Hour
The COVID-19 pandemic has bought about a drastic change in the shopping scenario and customer demands. Though the lockdown had forced shoppers to make their purchases online, the live-shopping experience has always been the most preferred by people. Shopping malls, for today’s generation, have turned a hub for spending leisure time apart from just shopping.
“With more focus on digitalization, retail has become more futuristic. The mall industry has proven to be one of the most dynamic and fast-paced industries by meeting the expectation of consumers in a digitally-driven space as well. Phoenix MarketCity Chennai was ahead of the curve, having launched ‘Phoenix Nhance’, our loyalty and rewards program, back in September 2019,” she asserts.
“Our exclusive ‘Nhance by Phoenix’ application provides a seamless and safe shopping experience with features like plan your visit, contactless payments and dining, smart parking, and many more. Contactless payment is ensured at every outlet to maintain safety and stop the spread of the virus. The program is designed to help us understand our patrons, cater to their needs, receive their feedback, and drive gratification across every step of the way. We want Phoenix MarketCity to be the premier experience destination in the city,” she adds.
Apart from this, the mall’s in-house fashion stylists are available for a virtual consultation during the working hours of the mall and help customers in styling with the latest fashion advice and access to all the fresh styles. They recommend the perfect looks for customers as per their requirements and interests. The mall also offers delivery services across the city.
The mall has also installed thermal scanners at the entrance to check temperatures, and footfall counters to provide density checks at the mall at any point in time.
Changing Consumer Behavior
With changing times, consumers have also started appreciating the personalized experience through the digital space.
“We have also ventured into the digital space by providing various interactive experiences as consumers don’t seem ready to turn their backs on their favorite brick-and-mortar stores,” she asserts.
“Customers have been coming back to the malls as soon as we re-opened and are eager to experience the new developments. They have also exhibited confidence in the new digital measures adapted by us and are comfortable with the contactless payment options as well. We have over a 1 lakh strong ‘Phoenix Nhance’ community, which enjoys engaging and interacting with both online and offline,” she adds.
With the disruption caused by the pandemic, retailers have reinvented themselves to address rapid changes in consumer habits. And now, retailers are accustomed to the new trends and are exploring newer means to lure consumers through the advancements of technology. Therefore, it seems that digital consumption is here to stay and improve customer experience.
How Bright is the Future?
Digitalization and its acceptance among the customers have played a major role in rebuilding and boosting business across sectors. All the mall operations are being carried out safely and efficiently with the adoption of newer technology and also by ensuring that the safety protocols are set in place. Though the lockdown had put shoppers in a situation where purchases had to be made online, the live-shopping experience is the most preferred. Today’s generation has always considered shopping malls as a hub for spending leisure time apart from just shopping. The incorporation of technology had made our work easier and safer.
“Technology is the heart of retail in the post-Covid period. Our customers have evolved and are expecting us to deliver phygital and personalized experiences. We have to keep ourselves updated with the use of digital technology to stay relevant,” she concludes.