Tuesday, October 25, 2011

NU 6 by JCB, What :Pisses You off at the Mall

What to do with Malls




                The shopping mall, or simply called mall is not the invention of the Filipino. To those who think that the Mall of Asia, Greenbelt, and Robinson's Galleria are indigenous ideas — they are not. But, poor Juan de la Cruz thinks otherwise. And who can blame him? Malls are everywhere. Almost every province in this country has a Gaisano or a Shoemart. The time has come therefore to be critical of these establishments.
               To start with, these malls eat a lot of space. As in a lot! They occupy hectares upon hectares of land, which could have been allotted for parks. In other countries, like the U.S., people relish going to parks on weekends. For them, parks are more important and noteworthy than malls. But for Filipinos, it's the opposite. The idea of relaxing at the park, running around under the sun, enjoying the fresh breeze, and having a picnic is completely alien to Filipinos. How sad.
               The malls also are not Mother Earth's best friend. They churn out tons and tons of garbage and emit CO2 like it is the safest thing to do.
              The other thing that that is completely irritating with the malls is their lack of parking. For some reason, the ratio of cars to parking spaces in every mall is 10:1, for every 10 cars there is only one parking space. Try going to Greenbelt on a Friday night, and the problem will come to life faster than one can spell P-A-R-K-I-N-G!
             Next on the list are those infuriating credit card sales agents who pester shoppers. They'll just pop out from nowhere and ask if the shopper is interested to get a credit card. They'll cajole and force the customer to sit down and listen to their sales talk. They're lucky that they haven't come across a customer who has a gun or a knife. And if they do, they would be killed on the spot. Good for them. Joke! Ok… Half-meant joke.
           Most of all, the crowds in the malls are the most annoying things of all. How can literally rubbing elbows with other mall goers be relaxing? How can having no space to walk on be considered fun? Some stupid mysteries are not worth solving at all.
              Given the list above, what needs to be done?
             As regards malls taking too much land, the solution lies with legislation. Congress should enact a law regulating how many hectares of land that a mall can buy and use. This is justifiable under the State's Police Power, which Professor Freund described as "the power promoting the public welfare by restraining and regulating the use of liberty and property." The execution of this is a bit doubtful since some lawmakers are dependent on the mall owners for campaign contributions. But, the mechanism is there; it's just a matter of having political will and character to push for it.
              Next, if the construction of malls cannot be regulated by a new law, then more novel and innovative approaches must be utilized.
            One tactic is to give incentives to mall owners to allot a portion of their properties for parks. For instance, malls shall have adjacent parks. The model is like that of Bonifacio High Street, but on a grander scale. And if mall owners do this, then they'll be given tax breaks or tax exemption schemes. All these contribute to giving people the parks that they deserve.  
          As regards the damage that these malls inflict on the environment, they should be told to manage their garbage and CO2 emissions. Although, most malls segregate their waste nowadays, the effort is not enough. They should be urged to adopt green methods and use environmentally safe materials. And with regard to their CO2 emissions, government should provide incentives to those malls which earn a lot of carbon credits. The incentives again can come in the form of tax breaks or tax exemption schemes.
            With regard to the parking problem, it can't be solve by buying more and more tracts of land. What needs to be done is an innovative and technological approach. For instance, the owners can build an adjacent building to their malls. And this building will be compartmentalized like a locker in which it will be divided into columns. And every column shall be stacked with cars. Conveyor belts or huge robotic technology will park the cars, so that the process will be precise.
            Another way of solving the parking problem is to burrow deep into the ground and apply the technology in the immediately preceding paragraph. All the drivers have to do is to go to a specific spot, leave their cars so that they can be lowered down to allotted compartments.
            The parking problem can also be solved by one of the oldest inventions known to man: the bicycle. Mall owners, in this case, shall give huge incentives or discounts to those who will use bikes to go to the malls. Of course, bikes cannot carry or transport T.V. Sets, Refrigerators, and other big appliances. The malls in this scenario shall provide free delivery of goods. The cost of the delivery shall be spread and carried over to the products being sold, food in dining establishments, and etc. Free delivery is akin to the Freemium concept in marketing.
           Moving on to the problem of pervasive and pesky credit card sales people, the solution is to shoot them on site…with airsoft guns. Some do wish that actual guns could be used, but that's felonious. Anyway, to rid the malls of these credit card sales people, they have to be eased out.(Legal lang Jonee)
          With the increasing power of social media, person to person sales are becoming less needed.  Ebay for instance is its own sales person. Facebook eliminates the need for a sales agent; the owner of the chattel can just sell himself via that platform. Considering all of these, malls can take advantage of all these innovations and send various sales pitches on behalf of these credit card companies to prospective customers via social media.
           Another way of solving the credit card sales person problem is via technology. Malls can be equipped with panels which act as huge advertisement or sales boards. Once a customer steps on a specific spot, the panels will light up and inform the consumer what can be bought in that mall's wing. So, the credit cards can be grouped to one of the mall's wings. This thereby eliminates the need for credit card to be offered to the shopper personally.  
           The last problem deals with the crowds that troop to the malls even if these structures are bursting at the seams. There is no quick fix solution for this, because the problem may be deeply rooted in Philippine culture already. Nonetheless, attempts must be made to rectify it.
             First, some qualification is in order. Crowds or the masa flock malls like SM and Robinsons. But, Greenbelt, Podium or Powerplant are not stuffed with people. Thus, the problem actually lies in the masa malls.
            Second, malls like SM or Robinsons become packed when either holds a sale. So, if there is no sale, then there will be less people.
           Having established the qualification, the next step is the action plan.
          To decongest the malls, SM and Robinsons, for instance, must learn to use social media. They should try to provide catalogues through Facebook so that the crowds will already have an inkling of what to buy before going to the mall.
          Also, the malls should have conveyor belts so that people will just take a ride on them and step off when needed. This will ensure mobility within the mall.
         Next, the malls should have interactive panels everywhere. So that when a customer wants to find a specific product, all it has to do is to ask the interactive panel. The machine in turn will answer the shopper. This is akin to the Siri technology now present in the IPhone 4S. With this innovation, shoppers will know where to find the item that they want, and if they are unsure, the panel can give them top three choices to choose from. All these will eventually lead to less traffic within the malls because people wouldn't be bouncing around from one place to another.
          Another idea is for the malls to tie up with telecom companies. The malls will give maps of their layout to the telecom companies, which in turn will only be activated within a few meters of a various pathways. For example, the shopper is about leave the toys section. And the next sections are clothes and shoes. The map will suddenly activate and show the shopper the various ways to go to either the clothes or shoes departments. And once the customer arrives at the desired destination, the map will turn off. Most of all, the administration and finance offices of these malls won't be included in the map. This would be like Harry Potter's Marauder's Map. Again, with this technology aimless walking will be lessened.
        Still, another proposal is that malls can tie up with robotics companies to build shopping droids. Following a specific list, these robots will shop for their owners. Obviously, cost will be an issue in this case, and the poor can't afford this luxury. So the robot manufacturers should provide low cost droids with limited service cycles. This is akin to a one or two day cell phone load. The low cost droids can only run for a short period and would have to be reactivated, via payment of new credit to their manufacturers.
        All in all, the malls can be a source of irritation, but with modifications and innovations they possibly be a good place to rest, relax, and enjoy. But, people will eventually learn that there is so much that can be done outside of the confines of a mall. Customers in the end will discover that happiness cannot be found by haggling over discounted products. Troglodytes would have to get out of the cave sometime. 4