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Malls Have Unlocked | Are They Ready For The New Normal?

  • Published on : 21/08/2020

As the world around us slowly and steadily reels out of major lockdowns, individuals, as well as businesses, have a common worry, capacity management or in simpler terms crowd control. Even while businesses are pulling up their shutters and firing up their kitchen, excited about welcoming their customers back into establishments, this continues to play hardball. A partially deserted mall is usually one that has failed to please its customers. But somehow the same concept now represents an establishment that maintains social distancing to the core.

While most businesses understand the intricacies and importance of social distancing and capacity management, what they are struggling with is the best way to implement it without compromising on customer experience. And here, technology plays an important role. Dineout was born with the mission to help foodies discover and visit restaurants across the country. Our B2B product suite, inresto, that witnessed massive success across these restaurants has also found a place within other establishments, malls being one of them. 

Re-invigorating consumer confidence with the advent of technology

In open markets like Wuhan, businesses have already shown promising signs of a return to a new normalcy. In India, June is the month where malls will be opening their doors again. However, customers no longer want to squeeze through these doors wary of coming in close contact with strangers. Their psyche has changed and confidence in public places being safe has hit rock bottom. 

The most important task for malls is rebuilding confidence amongst these customers. The only way to tackle distrust is by reducing high-touch elements and maintaining hygiene and social distancing with the help of technology. The establishment of infection prevention infrastructure and regulations like sanitisation stalls, temperature checks, limited entry for both employees and customers will play a crucial role.

1. Technology-Enabled Contactless Services 

In the pre-COVID world, a packed mall was a sight to behold. Customers thronged such malls, knowing well that they are home to some of the best outlets. But that has become secondary now. Capacity management and sanitation have taken centre stage. Anything less is frowned upon and avoided. We experienced a glimpse of what chaos mismanagement can lead to when alcohol shops were open during lockdown phase 03. Businesses and individuals have learned from this and shifted to the adoption of technology in the form of an E-token 

A parallel can be drawn in this case for malls who can prepare ahead of time to create a safe & secure environment by limiting interactions to essentials and managing crowds seamlessly. And this can be managed by inresto’s tried and a tested technology product suite that already has many takers in the industry. It will help achieve peak capacity management within the mall by controlling the entry and exit by the usage of pre-booking and QR code features. Here customers will need to pre-book their slots for a visit to any retail or F&B outlet. This will enable the mall to identify expected footfall and spread it across time slots in a day, thereby avoiding overcrowding.

Trends across the world hint at a tectonic shift towards the introduction of technology like digital payments and digital ordering, where customers use their own devices to initiate and complete transactions.

2.  Hygiene & Safety Partnerships

Utmost hygiene has become the new normal. It has invaded every aspect of our lives and is here to stay. And the same needs to be maintained through the entire journey of a customer visiting a mall. Malls need to streamline all necessary hygiene accreditation and regularise sanitation inspections. The key here is attention to detail. Replacing manually opening doors with sensor-based doors will reduce the surfaces that customers are prone to touch. Similarly, sanitation stalls across the malls as well as inside the lift will also reassure the customers of their safety.

To help malls do all of this effortlessly inresto has prepared a safety kit. This kit includes items like sanitisers, thermometers, visor, gloves, face masks and headgears. It is a one-stop solution for a mall looking to confidently open its doors. We have also tied up with hygiene accreditation partners who conducted regular checks and hand out certifications. These will help rebuild customer confidence which will ensure steady footfalls once the shutters are lifted.

3. Expand your revenue sources

Challenging times have led to people coming up with the most innovative solutions. Ann Landers once said, “Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize them.” Malls were already struggling with profit margins, a reduction in footfall means even they have a steeper mountain to climb. In such a case they can explore an additional revenue opportunity with an intelligent AI-based Ad-platform. Taking ownership of a digital platform like a website has become vital for sustenance. This gets the businesses in direct touch with their customers, gives them a pulse of their sentiments and brings along a plethora of opportunities from brands and advertisers that can prove beneficial to mall owners. 

Malls already have the means, they just need to execute it. Once such instance is Radio Khaitan, that makes 8 PM whisky and Magic Moments Vodka. During the ongoing lockdown they expanded the use of extra neutral alcohol (ENA) at one of their distillery into the production of hand sanitiser. Similarly malls can make the most of existing brand relationships and give them a promotional platform.

4. Marketing Opportunities

As malls gear up to open their doors, they are aware that footfall will be limited. All the year-long marketing plans have gone for a toss. In some cases, marketing budgets have been cut down tremendously. This has led to the reevaluation of a marketing campaign from a strategic point of view. Cause everyone was already shooting in the dark, now even the darts are limited. So marketing on the right platforms becomes even more essential. 

inresto, which already provides cutting edge technology, is partnering with businesses to help them leverage platforms such as Times Digital Network, print media, social network, campaigns, banners & push notifications to reach out to the right audience, rebuild customer confidence, increase footfall and enhance revenue.

Supporting the hospitality business with cutting edge technology has always been inresto’s forte. And as we march into the future, we are looking to support businesses with tech and services in various areas and help them overcome challenges. These would range from enabling businesses with Whitelabel websites digital menus, pre-booking, pre-ordering, takeaways, supply chain automation, credit aggregations and more. Our team is working tirelessly to make this possible for every business strategising to evolve as per the new-normal norms.

As people become more and more wary about their surroundings, they are experiencing an overwhelming sense of fear. H. P. Lovecraft once said, “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” 

The onus here is on us to remove this sense of fear and replace it with trust. The tools for progress from here on will be technology. It will pave our path to success and victory. What we need to remember is that humans are social creatures; the need to socialise is cardinal. And the responsibility to make it possible in a safe and secure environment is collectively ours.


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