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Mobile Malls - Digital Destinations of the (not too distant) Future

If there's one irresistible force of globalization it must be the growing swell of shopping malls. As consumers in the emerging world take wing, bigger and shinier is seen as better. With many of the world's largest malls now opening for business in China, India, Malaysia and elsewhere, we are witnessing a "malling of the world" at an unprecedented scale. Teen hangout or shopping mecca, multiplex haven or anchor store-ville, malls mean different things to different people--yet with an astonishing sameness around the world. Like them or dislike them, malls with their in-your-face consumerism and frustrating staggered escalators are here to stay.

Mash up the mall phenomenon and the mobile device (phone or pad of your choosing) with applications, brands, and even merchandise and some really interesting possibilities begin to emerge. Just as physical mall operators provide real estate, HVAC and utilities to retailers and brands who set up shop, mobile malls will offer brands and retailers the ability to reach out to consumers, create their own branded retailing zones, and offer a safe and secure shopping experience to consumers.

And who knows, this may even turn out to be the teen hangout of the future, where social applications converge on brands, each vying for the attentions of their target digital consumer.

Far fetched, you say? Not *that* far. Many of the business models and technology platforms are already in place. What we're talking about are new ways of assembling ecosystems around user behaviors, devices and services. App store today, mobile mall with brand zones tomorrow.

Comments

Deepak, this seems like an excellent idea. I tend to agree with you that this is not too far and we should see this very soon.

Once this becomes a reality, you don't have to go to the mall...the mall will come to you. I really like the idea that you carry the mall in your pocket where ever you go not having to worry about closing hours/busy hours...

Looking forward to shopping soon in the mall which I carry.:)

Yes indeed - the way of the future will be less travel more reach
As Deepak has mentioned all this will be possible through by assembling systems around user behaviors and particular requirements - this will be built on an Artificial Intelligence base which can sense and adapt

You have depicted a very realistic scenario of the future. And with the advent of integration of social networks and digital media and marketing, convergence is bound to happen when it comes to virtual malls.

I would also like to know your views on brands advertising themselves, their 'malls', and also third party adverts. Do you think we would be able to monetize this model, and at the same time reduce the 'global spamming'? Is there a disruptive advertisement model yet to arrive?

Thanks for the insights.

Deepak,

Have you visited malls in Gurgaon or Noida or Dubai or Singapore?

In Malls, in all the fancy high-brand shops, you can hardly see anyone there. The high end shops are mostly empty. The only place where there is crowd is the eating joints where youngsters gather for meetups.

Let's face facts: most of us go to Malls for loitering around in the a/c comfort and not to buy anything. If I have to buy a clothing or shoes or an electronics item, there are enough stores nearby. (This is the case in most metros.) Soon, the shop owners in these fancy malls will start complaining about how unviable the whole set up is. After they are the ones who have to pay for high rent.

I don't see bright future for malls. It's a new fad, and in 5 years time, you will see them being closed one by one. And converted to marriage halls.

Thanks Ganesh for taking the time to post on this blog. Your point is taken with regard to brick-and-mortar malls.

However, the question in my mind is more to do with virtual shopping and new spaces for consumer brands. When will we be ready to transact, to engage with the brands of our choice in the new and perhaps unfamiliar terrain of the various mobile devices we carry around?

The folks at Flurry have published a report entitled "Mobile Apps put the Web in their Rear View Mirror," stating that users globally are spending more time on mobile apps than on the web.

While it may yet take years for the trends to fully materialize, we may be looking, I submit, at a future where marketers may well prefer to engage consumers digitally, on the devices of their choosing, and shift spend over time away from conventional brick-and-mortar venues like shopping malls.

Nike appears to be one of the market leaders in embracing the trend with their "Nike Fuel Band." Devices like this not only make computing and their brand pervasive but also create new opportunities for ongoing consumer engagement - and who knows - maybe even commerce in the future.

This was exactly my b-plan in an event organised. Though I didnt succeed, I still strongly feel the market is worth exploring but needs a lot of filtering of ideas and come out with a compact one. Just like there are many malls there will also be many mobile malls.So proper planning is necessary.

Hi Mr.Deepak,

Certainly possible but joints( malls )will exist though not focus on shopping centric.

With Regards
Venkatesapalani Thangavelu.

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