Tech to the rescue as retail realty looks to compete with online shopping | real-estate | Hindustan Times
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Tech to the rescue as retail realty looks to compete with online shopping

Interiors and space requirements are changing as stores turn to interactive LED screens, virtual wardrobes to woo customers.

real estate Updated: Jul 08, 2017 18:51 IST
Archana Rao
(HT ILLUSTRATION: SHRIKRISHNA PATKAR)

The retail real-estate market in Mumbai is undergoing a change. And much of the reason is the growing impact of e-commerce on the retail sector.

A recent JLL-CII study has found that retailers are bringing elements of the online shopping experience to their stores, to add to brick and mortar some of the novelty of e-tailing. So, the Raymond’s flagship store in Bengaluru sells apparel via an iPad that also allows customers to see what they’ll look like in the suits they plan to buy.

Zivame, at its first fitting lounge, also in Bengaluru, lets customers enter their specifications into a tablet PC, which then throws up the styles and options available. A Being Human apparel store in Mumbai has a life-size image of Salman Khan, and technology lets customers see what the stuff they plan to buy would look like on their favourite film star.

Big Bazaar Gen Next stores in Noida and Mumbai have interactive digital screens that showcase the offerings in the store. At 612 League stores in Noida, kids can ‘try on’ different clothes virtually using simple hand gestures and a tablet PC.

“Consumers now want the kinds of interactive elements they are used to online,” says Pankaj Renjhen, managing director for retail services at JLL India. “In-store experiences are therefore gaining importance and driving new trends in retail real-estate interiors and design.”

An era of retail-tainment

The focus is on enhancing the consumer experience such that, as it is online, offline shopping too becomes retail-tainment, says Gautam Vaswani, executive director of the consultancy Property Pioneer Zone. “Thus we are seeing, in retail spaces, that novel means of entertainment such as mini theme parks like a snow world or bowling alleys are being clubbed with retail spaces.”

“The Indian retail sector is getting more scientific and data analytics is key to understanding the needs of the customers and maximising their experience, which is possible only in the organised retail real-estate space,” says Vaswani. “Leading international and Indian brands have a set of guidelines that need to be followed by developers.”

The brick-and-mortar format of retail real-estate is competing with the virtual shopping space, and this is reflected in the demand for very specific types of retail spaces. “Rentals for Grade A shopping centers across major markets have witnessed a marginal rise as compared to last year due to steady demand and limited new supply. Meanwhile, high street rentals remained steady across most markets,” says Anshuman Magazine, chairman for India and South East Asia at CBRE consultancy.

“Read-to-move-in retail assets have also drawn keen interest from investors. Premium developments focused on luxury retail are primarily planned in areas such as Bandra–Kurla Complex and Navi Mumbai. Growing demand for retail space in these areas will most likely exceed supply, and further put upward pressure on rentals for major high streets as well as investment-grade shopping centres,” says Magazine.

In fact, some of the malls being redeveloped are also being reimagined with an eye on this segment. Palm Beach Galleria in Vashi is undergoing a facelift and will be reopened as a premium shopping centre.

“We revitalised the space and transformed it from a hypermarket to a high street,” says architect Hiten Sethi.