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Re-Inventing The Retail Sector With Arjun Sharma

While curled up at home during COVID-19, we crave that outing to the shopping mall. “A mall had become not just a place to shop but also a place of social interaction.” Listen to Divya dialogue with Arjun Sharma, Chairman, Select Group about how the retail & tourism sectors plan to bounce back once the lockdown is lifted.

The retail & tourism sectors have taken a body blow due to COVID-19.”

What is the current status of the retail & tourism sector?

The retail & shopping centre business has taken a bad-hit during COVID-19. No business ever planned for a contingency where the demand would entirely fall off the shelf.

How can shopping malls practice social distancing?

Arjun Sharma states that “the recovery will come.”

  • A mall/ shopping centre can control the number of people entering.
  • Technology can be used to screen people at the entrance.
  • The malls can be sanitised multiple times.
  • Malls can calculate the carrying capacity of each store, each floor, and each location.
  • Convert services as contact-less as possible.

What have been your learnings from other countries?

China, Hong Kong, and Korea opened up its economy before India did. The USA has remained open. It’s essential to learn how to manage the crowds rather than staying in complete lockdown as that is not good for a developing economy like India. Arjun states that the Select Group will take more than adequate preventive measures than stated by the Government of India once movement is allowed. 

How can you re-innovate malls during COVID-19?

  • Converting to drive-in clinics

Select City Walk has paired up with Dr Dangs Lab and has opened up a drive-in testing clinic. In case of symptoms, one can log in to Dr Dangs Lab’s website and can choose to go to Select City Walk, Saket, or Punjabi Bagh in Delhi. The clinic is designed in a way that once a car drives-in just outside the mall, a doctor will come to the car. Nobody has to leave the car, roll the window down, and let the doctor take a swab.

  • Zero contact transaction

La Cave, a store that sells fine wines, whiskeys, and spirits, have put up their entire inventory on their app and website. You can preorder your choice of liquor, pay online, and select a time-slot for picking it up. The packet will already be at the door, ready for collection. You will need to scan the bar code and take your order – simple and efficient! 

FYI With DR: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles India offers touch-free jeep retail experience. Prospective customers can now book a jeep digitally and can get a sanitised vehicle delivery at their doorstep. 

Will E-commerce prevail over shopping malls?

A certain shift will most definitely be observed in the online space. However, the more expensive a product is, the more you need to touch and feel it and purchase it physically.

Which are the worst affected sectors?

Tourism, aviation, and hospitality are the worst-hit sectors. A retailer will still be able to sell a shirt online at some point. An aeroplane seat or a hotel room cannot be utilised online. The margins in these sectors are thin.

The tourism industry contributes 9.2% of India’s GDP. 8.1% of the population is employed by these sectors, and together they are worth USD 28 Billion. Almost 20 Million people are on the verge of losing their jobs. It’s those at the grass-root level like a small tour guide or an artisan or a guesthouse owner who will suffer the most.

DR Pro Tip: Domestic tourism should see a bounce back.

What are your key learnings during COVID-19?

  • Better contingency plans for capital, keeping extreme measures in mind. 
  • Preserving existing business over-expanding.

Check out the podcast with Jayant Davar about the impact of COVID-19 on the automotive sector here.

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