EMBRACING FUTURE TECHNOLOGIES

Ecuador 2019 | CULTURE & TOURISM | INTERVIEW

Mall de Sol is incorporating the latest technologies to become an all-inclusive mall that fulfills the changing needs of younger generations.

Bruno Zavala Intriago
BIOGRAPHY
Bruno Zavala Intriago has been general manager of Mall Del Sol since April 2016. Before that, he served as marketing and sales manager of Marathon Sports for nearly eight years and worked for several advertising agencies. He holds a degree in advertising and marketing from Universidad Casa Grande.

What have been the recent trends in retail and shopping centers?

The idea that “malls are dead" and retail is facing an “apocalypse" scenario is completely wrong. That said, malls and retail concepts must evolve along with consumer needs, meaning they must adapt to new technologies and understand what the main e-commerce players are doing. Pure online brands are moving to physical stores because they need to reduce logistics costs and enhance their relationship with customers. Traditional malls must become community centers and transform the shopping experience into a more intimate relationship with their visitors. New generations like millennials are changing the shopping process, so we must adapt to the needs of the young and dynamic generation. Social media, big data, IoT, augmented reality, and other technologies are playing a larger role in the retail world. Physical stores must focus on selling “experiences" instead of just “products or services." Therefore, food and beverage as well as new entertainment offerings have become the new anchors.

What does that mean for the new offerings in your facilities, and how do you envision attracting more customers?

Our efforts are focused on one main concept: experience. In October 2018, we opened a new food hall called GASTRO that includes six restaurants with diverse food and beverage menus. We built that because our visitors were looking for a more intimate and stylish area where they could enjoy different gastronomic experiences. Considering that Guayaquil needs more leisure centers, we have partnered with one of the largest entertainment brands in the region to satisfy our customer's needs. We have a 9,000-sqm expansion project in progress, divided among two anchors: an entertainment center and a home goods store. We expect to bring a lot of new visitors to our center and become the biggest entertainment hub in the city. The project will be completed by December 2019. Our visitors have been able to experience our new automated parking solution, making Mall del Sol the first shopping center in the area to implement it.

With a growing e-commerce industry, how do you envision going forward?

We are turning our shopping environment into an “omni-channel" experience to ensure that we get the best from both the digital and physical worlds. Big data is a key component of this strategy, along with an improved Wi-Fi network and a new guest services menu. We are also developing a new website, engaging our fans through different social media platforms, implementing digital signage, and other innovative elements that will enhance the “customer journey" process. We are planning to include click and collect services to our physical stores as well as e-commerce brand that could benefit from our center. This will allow customers to start their shopping process inside the mall and have the products delivered to their homes at their convenience.

What kind of businesses would you like to attract?

With a new mega scale entertainment center opening next year, we expect to have larger groups of visitors spending more time within our mall. This effect, as well as an increasing customer base, will attract more international and local brands to open new concept stores in Mall del Sol. We are extremely careful in the new brand selection process to ensure high standards and to keep our company promise, “the only place that has it all." Our goal is to develop and maintain a diverse tenant mix. As well as including new shopping trends, healthy and sustainable brands will have a higher impact on our visitors. We plan to become a sustainable mixed-use shopping center, minimizing pollution and the use of resources while operating and developing new enhancements to our building. Mall del Sol will always try to benefit its community in the long term, so brands that have similar strategies can ensure strong relationships with our shopping center.