Today, retail businesses need a combination of physical stores and digital platforms to deliver shoppers the optimal experience. In this context, DLF Group recently deployed Phygital platform across five of its malls. Harshavardhan Chauhan, head – central marketing and Phygital, DLF Shopping Malls, explains to Paromik Chakraborty of Electronics For You how such solutions can help retail brands increase their revenue and malls magnify their own businesses.
Q. How does Phygital work for retail businesses?
A. Phygital platform enables retailers to be aware of their customers’ choices and preferences, and strategise their sales accordingly. Sensors and microprocessors have been deployed across 1,665,000sqm of our space across NCR. Each in-mall retail store has strategically-placed sensors. Processors connect mobile devices of customers who walk into the mall to the network of the area.
Microprocessors keep count of the footfall in stores—number of consumers who pass by the periphery of the store and who enter. Each retailer receives granular insights in real time, like number of unique visitors, dwell time of each visitor in the store, area in the store that draws most customers, number of customers who repeatedly enter that store and so on.
The platform provides a dashboard, which delivers the above-mentioned data analytics at a glance. Based on that, retailers can modify offers and marketing strategies in real time.
Q. How does a mobile app for consumers fit into the equation?
A. In a mobile app, like Lukout, all brands in the mall have their own virtual presence. Customers can access product inventory, content and offers for each brand 24/7, even if they are not inside the mall. It also reduces the sole reliability of retailers on scheduled digital marketing for visibility.
Lukout is connected with microprocessors using an SDK. Inside the mall, as customers move towards a retail store, content on the app changes accordingly, and they can view offers and discounts available in the stores around them.
There are features that reduce wait times, such as a remote valet request and express checkout from car parking where parking fees are deducted through Paytm wallets.
Another feature called Call Your Driver gives accurate location navigation. It lets a chauffeur know where the customer is waiting. Within a DLF ecosystem, it has 20cm accuracy.
This system can also be leveraged to find brands inside the mall. It provides a store-to-store level of accuracy.
Q. How does this setup increase revenue of the retail brands in malls?
A. Store managers can precisely identify their target consumer segment with the product segment they want to highlight, especially with quantifiable data. They receive and implement consumer feedbacks in real time, too.
The entire platform gives brands more control over their consumer targets. With higher consumer reach, revenues increase. Businesses can expect 13 to 15 per cent increase in revenue with this platform.
Q. How will this improve the mall-owner’s business going ahead?
A. In a mall ecosystem like DLF, where brands pay for store rentals, there is also a minimum guarantee deal and a revenue-sharing partnership between them and the mall. With better reach to consumers, brands have a guaranteed increase in revenue, which, in turn, improves the malls’ revenues.
Q. What are you charging your retail partners for this service?
A. We are providing it free of charge. The idea is to give brands a platform to catch up with the digital gap they have faced in the last few years and resume competition with e-tail players. It will also fundamentally improve their sales and, in turn, will benefit us, too.
Q. Do you see Phygital model moving into the general retail segment?
A. Over 90 per cent of SME physical retail stores do not connect with consumers in any form, other than local marketing initiatives. A platform like Phygital can be tailored for any scale of business. It fundamentally empowers retailers with insights. If adopted properly, it can disrupt the complete retail landscape.
Q. Tell us about the Wi-Fi service and other solutions that make mall premises smart?
A. In sync with Phygital, we have also rolled out Wi-Fi 2.0 service called We Connect. To use Wi-Fi 2.0, users need to connect to it once—it auto-connects when they visit a DLF zone again. It is DoT- and TRAI-complaint for data safety.
Skidata is looking into our smart parking management system. In real time, consumers know the status of vacant spots at different parking levels. We have installed in-mall camera analytics for surveillance and security.
We are venturing into more partnerships in augmented reality and virtual reality to improve in-mall experience through gesture screens, experience kiosks and revamp digital screens.