Access includes in its purview ease of entry and exit; this also takes into account sufficient parking and ease of manoeuvrability, typically for trolleys used by customers of a hypermarket, notes Anshul Pahuja, Vice President, Business Development, Pacific Development Corporation. For this reason, hypermarkets are usually placed on the ground or basement level where space is easier to come by.
Indoors, access is an outcome of layout and circulation, critical features of mall design, adds Kejriwal, which must be coupled with supporting infrastructure to facilitate customer flow such that customers can view and visit every store. Access also includes the use of appropriate mobility solutions for all, including the physically-challenged, to ensure universal access to floors, as per Jayen Naik, Vice President-Malls, Nexus Malls.
Next up is leveraging technology on the lines of building information systems 'to create a smart structure', adds Naik, and 'appropriate signage and Wi-Fi to ensure good communication with customers. Design also entails incorporating fire-safety systems and sufficient amenities, such as restrooms.'
Beyond these basics, to accommodate the need to offer entertainment and leisure, many mall developers are now expanding common spaces to create more convergence and grandeur, observes Kejriwal.
Aashish Agarwal, Senior Director (Head-Consulting), Colliers International India, notes that some retailers, particularly in the electronic goods segment, are focussing on the kiosk model to ensure visibility while keeping costs low. So, the placement of these kiosks may also drive design.
And as first impressions are often lasting ones, it is essential that the inner precincts of the mall look appealing from the main entrance, advises Pahuja, adding that this includes choosing the right façade for the stores.
Indeed, the retail rush is on!- Charu Bahri