top of page
  • BlueLeavesDesign

What Makes A Successful Shopping Mall

Alfred Taubman – the pioneer of the modern shopping mall – said that there are numerous factors that make a mall successful. However, DESIGN MUST BREAK EVERY BARRIER, EVERY WALL BETWEEN CUSTOMER AND MERCHANDISE.. He called this barrier -- ‘Threshold Resistance’. For him, architecture was the foundation of this process.

The 3 Clients

Shopping malls are designed for 3 stakeholders :

  • Developers

  • Tenants

  • Shoppers


  • Mall owners may be one / many. They may change/replace over time. They may be property developers, funding institutions, private investors etc.

  • How each earns money from the project is different. Perhaps by rentals, perhaps by revenue sharing, perhaps by investment. Indian malls have revenue sharing models for food courts, parking and multiplexes mostly.


Tenants are largely divided into anchor tenants and vanilla stores.

Anchors include big format retailers (supermarkets, hypermarkets, department stores), multiplexes, food courts etc.

Design teams satisfy tenant requirements by studying the following:

  • parking grids

  • shop depths

  • location

  • zoning of tenants

  • floor to floor heights

  • services access

  • floor loading

  • connectivity between floors

  • accessibility

  • waste management

  • building maintenance.

Good shopping malls provide visibility to as many tenants as possible.


Marketeers segment shoppers by gender, age and buying capacity.

  • Recent segmentation is by life stages and individual focus groups.

  • Customers also want: Variety, Diversity, Comprehensiveness, Convenience, Comfort, Safety (from traffic), Security, Ambience, Parking and Ease of access. Malls that provide these attract more shoppers and make them stay longer.

The Stakeholders' Dilemma :

Developers need revenue. Revenue comes from shoppers. Shoppers need good tenants. Tenants and shoppers need good design. The developer creates good design.

So if each stakeholders' tangible and intangible wants are met and balanced, the shopping mall becomes successful.


6 Principles of Contemporary Mall Design :

1. Convenience :

First and foremost, shoppers want convenience. They want easy access and exit. So correct placement of entrances and exits is vital.

2. Exhaustive :

Shoppers want diversity and variety. Good malls cater to most price points. Intelligent zoning of tenant mix is crucial. Some tenant mixes are complimentary while others are supplementary.

Tenant mix also addresses the 3 types of shopping behaviour : impulse, comparative and demand.

3. Luxury :

Shoppers these days want a very personalised experience -- almost like a hotel with full amenities. Shopping is sometimes referred to as resort retail.

4. Mall Concept :

What does the mall stand for ? What makes it different ? What makes it memorable ? With so many malls coming up, differentiation and branding is essential.

5. Entertainment :

We love to play. Hence we must put more play into the shopping experience.

6. Comfort :

Malls used to focus on maximising floor space. Sometimes at the expense of customer comfort. These days, the customer is king. His comfort is most essential.

In Conclusion...

The average life span of a mall is about 7 years. This figure is shrinking.

Which means mall design is unable to meet customer expectations.

The mall needs to reinvent. As Alfred Taubman said 'Every single thing adds to the experience' ... The experience of bringing the customer nearer to the merchandise.

*The above is an abridged version of our article published in the Jan 2014 edition of 'Shopping Centre News' -- India's leading retail magazine. Download the full unabridged article here

513 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page