This story is from Finland, the new living area at Kalasatama in Helsinki got a new shopping and experience centre named REDI in September 2018. Over 70 per cent of the 200-plus premises were leased prior to opening.
So a shopping centre is always loved by nearby people & Kalasatama has a paying customer for sure. Post the launch the mall started getting lot of negative social & press mentions about the experience inside the mall. These issues were basic navigation inside the mall to finding where you parked your car or getting to the bus station after shopping.
We went & met one of the retailer from Haweli one of the restaurant inside the mall. It was 3rd week of operations & he prompted that :
” I am coming from past 3 weeks & even it is tough for me to find my car in parking area”
As per the press release from SRV given in march 2018 they are expecting to serve 12 million visitors in first year of operation. If you see the offerings from the mall for example, opportunities to experience the thrill of flying as well as a 7D virtual theatre where movie action is made real through virtual headsets and motion simulators that stimulate all the senses & more , you will surely would like to step in.
But again press mentions about REDI like this caution you :
Whoever planned this place must have been drunk or demented.
Source : https://www.finnishnews.fi
So we stepped in again with an objective of finding what is the real experience. This was organised by Chaos Architects to understand UX issue & other areas of improvements.
This was a great activity & indeed a worthy effort to do something rather than just procrastinating . We started with brainstorming sitting on a boat inside the mall. Following inputs came in from amazing set of thought leaders not limiting to having few anchor stores, accessibility, parking assistance (Bikes/ Cars), signage / maps, tenant placement, lighting, entrance mobility, social areas & more.
As mentioned by press that …
In Helsinki, and within a radius of 12 km, there are three huge shopping malls
that are almost identical, with the same big retailers and food places occupying 75% of the space with a few sad losers hanging on to dull dying shops in the darker corners of these labyrinths.
Three teams were made & we made a one hour tour inside the mall like a shopper.
With that in mind we started exploring the mall & I was part of one team. It was real on ground work which let us find some of the exciting insights.
We found a lady shopping with a booklet of shopping mall directory in hand & out of no surprise other team found 3 police men walking with same map. This was not at all good & indeed this is not only a problem with REDI but with all malls around the world. Though we have some advance tech solutions like indoor digital maps on mobile but only for mobile friendly shoppers. Anyways we moved on.
The K1 on floor was another discovery for all of us , as we sighted K1, K2,K3 , K5 & ah we found K4 missing. K is referred for level in REDI (for better understanding of English readers) .
The exercise came to end with findings those could be easily implemented by REDI like improvements on signages , better lighting, putting happy faces on shops under construction, etc. Programs for shopper engagement & sustainability initiatives can be rolled out from mall to get footfall. Naming local street names of Kalasatama to floors & sections can give a strong personalisation & uplift the mall back to what it is built for.
A mall should ensure path to purchase doesn’t gets break.
Yogesh Huja, Founder & CEO of Freedom.Desi