Even in Mumbai and other metro cities three decades ago people were not aware of malls. They used to buy their regular requirements from small grocery stores near their houses or at the most from semi-wholesalers. Wholesalers at that time used to specify quantities which were far in excess of the requirements of even big households.
People were only familiar with departmental stores but they used to keep items of fancy nature mostly suitable for gifts. Even for requirements like watches the departmental stores used to price them at 15- 20% higher than the manufacturers’ watch stores. In some cases the manufacturers were hiring counters in department stores and selling their goods at reasonable prices. An example of this is Akbarallys in Mumbai where they used counters on hire. But you may be surprised to note only 3 of such stores existed in Mumbai. All the manufacturers and producers could not have counters in Akbarallys because of high rental charges. Some stores call themselves as Super Markets which is not the case but they were just ordinary stores. Only thing is that the goods were displayed in a better way. They kept only limited food items mainly snacks packed in polythene bags without requisite details. The word Super Market was copied from USA.
In 1991 the government introduced “Liberalization” and slowly the departmental store was either closed down or they expanded into malls. The malls bought directly from producers and occupied a large space say about 20,000 sq feet and above. In some cases there were even malls occupying four or five floors. Every mall now has food items purchased directly from manufacturers and they sell it to consumers at a low profit margin. The malls believed in earning money selling to a large consumer population so called footfalls and not through higher profit margins.
Now we find malls in Metro cities, tier-two cities, and tier-three cities. The last count is Mumbai which has more than 50 malls and Delhi about 50-100 malls. Some of the big players in the field are Big Bazar owned by Pantaloons India Limited, Reliance Industries Limited, Spencer, Tatas, Infinite malls, Inorbit, Hypermarket, Sahakari Bhandar and many others. These stores are offering food products including vegetables of good qualities at very reasonable prices compared to the market. In addition to that the other items which are required for day to day use are also available at less than M.R.P and they also come out with good offers that would benefit the consumers. Some of the malls also have ready made materials, Saris, textiles, and children wear in addition to the above. Some malls also hire 30-40%of their space for items like perfumes, jewellery, foot wear, cosmetics, medicines and others. But the mall management ensures that goods are sold at the hired places at reasonable prices.
Difference between malls and ordinary stores: Ordinary stores sell substandard goods adding higher margins of profit. Malls procure from direct sources. For example, soaps and detergents from Hindustan Unilever and Godrej, Tea from say Tata Tea, Lipton, wheat, rice, pulses, and vegetables from farmers and imported food products from importers without procuring from distributors or middlemen, and the malls also add low profit margins. As a result malls are able to sell the products at reasonable prices. Price is an integral element of the retail marketing mix. It is the factor, which is the source of revenue for the retailer. The price of the merchandiser also communicates the image of the retail store to the customers. Various factors like the target market, store policies, competition and economic conditions need to be taken into consideration arriving at the price of a product.
Malls are keeping the products on shelves properly and the customers are able to touch and see them. For products like Fruit Juices they are kept on shelves which are cooled to 70 degree Celsius and Milk products and chocolates are kept on shelf which is either cooled or in a refrigerator at appropriate low temperatures. The arrangement is done in such a way that the customer can see the cooled products easily and decide what to purchase. I am not talking about non-vegetarian products like meat, chicken etc. The customer is not dependent on any sales person if he wants to purchase the products. He can simply put the products in his trolley with wheels provided by the malls. The customer or the consumers can get the products billed at the counters provided by the mall and make the payment.
Customers would like to go for their regular purchases to a mall where the goods are kept in such a way that the consumer can easily identify the area through the name plate fixed by the Mall management. The mall salespersons are useful here in guiding the potential customers to the goods they intend to purchase in case they are in a hurry. Thus Malls have become very useful to common households for their regular purchases.