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July 22, 2016

The Star

Mall Big On Customer Journey


WHEN MyTown shopping mall opens its doors in Cheras on Nov 15, it will be about the size of 20 football fields, housing 460 shops and 6,500 parking bays.

And pulling the strings together for the launch of Kuala Lumpur’s new shopping icon is a Swede who has gone through warfare training in sub-zero temperatures.

Instead of introducing his staff to battle tactics, MyTown general manager Joakim Hogsander will veer their attention to more peaceful and profitable pursuits by teaching them to anticipate shoppers’ expectations.

In sessions lasting several hours long, he and his team pored over floor plans and donned thinking caps to see that shoppers do not only shop but also rest, play and eat at the same time.

By introducing the concept of customer journey, the shopping experience there, he guaranteed, would be a far cry from the days when toilets were placed miles away from shops or where sitting areas were almost non-existent.

Just a year in Malaysia, Hogsander, who had opened shopping centres in Ekaterinburg, Russia’s fourth largest city, said the thoughtful touches would set the newly built mall apart from other 700 retail competitors in the Klang Valley.

He stressed that Malaysia was not only a nation of foodies but of avid shoppers as well, and as such, comfort would be a vital component to MyTown. Its aim is to retain customers in the mall, thus giving retailers more time to convince shoppers to buy.

“From my personal observation, the average time spent at shopping centres in most countries is only about an hour and a half. In Malaysia, shoppers can easily spend up to five hours because there is more to see,” said Hogsander.

He said the idea of encouraging customers to linger gained popularity about a decade ago when retailers realised that shoppers had numerous other needs, apart from stepping into a store to buy things. In profile, shoppers are also mothers with children, senior citizens or even courting couples.

The major hurdle is predicting where they would go and how best to cater to their needs when they are at a location.

“If there are children in tow, the young ones may want to play, so there are play areas. But what are the parents to do when the children are at play? So there is a strategic placing of fashion stores and recreational facilities like restaurants around the area.

“The main goal is so that a unit of shoppers need not be separated though they may have different needs,” said Hogsander.

The concept also makes way for rest places.

Far from conventional cold, hard benches, Hogsander promised that the seats at MyTown would be comfortable enough for shoppers to sit and read for the entire day if they so desired.

In addition to having Ikea as its main anchor, the upcoming mall’s other tenants will include Parkson, Village Grocer, Uniqlo, Al-ikhsan and Golden Screen Cinemas.

“We know that these are the components shoppers are looking for. And we know these tenants are able to bring the retail experience expected by our shoppers,” said Hogsander.

The existence of MyTown is expected to lessen the current congestion in the Bandar Utama shopping area where long queues have been a cause of frustration especially on weekends.

The Ikea outlet which is 20% bigger than the Damansara branch, also aims to serve shoppers living around Wangsa Maju, Ampang, and as far as Sungai Long and Kajang.

Mall big on customer journey