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Malls security in India: market strong but challenges abound

Malls security in India: market strong but challenges abound
India is set to get over 65 million sq. ft of new mall spaces by the end of 2022. Of this total new supply, the top 7 cities comprise 72 percent share and the remaining 28 percent or 18.2 million sq. ft is slated to come up in tier 2 and 3 cities.
In India, the eCommerce business is booming. Amazon, the American retail giant is engaged in fierce competition with an Indian brand called Flipkart, which ironically is now owned by another American giant, Walmart. These companies, along with a host of niche product sellers are making steady inroads into the Indian market.

Or so it seems. If we are to take a look at the numbers, e-commerce has only penetrated 3 percent of the market. This wouldn’t come as a surprise to people familiar with the massive size of the Indian market, most of which remains unexplored by businesses.

However, what this does mean is that the brick and mortar retail sector is still strong here. The young people, who dominate India’s population and have an improved standard of living compared to their previous generations thanks to the country’s recent economic growth, find the experience of visiting a store and shopping offline rather attractive.  

This is the reason malls are growing in India. According to Anarock Property Consultants, India is set to get over 65 million sq. ft of new mall spaces by the end of 2022. Of this total new supply, the top 7 cities comprise 72 percent share and the remaining 28 percent or 18.2 million sq. ft is slated to come up in tier 2 and 3 cities. This, in turn, means that the security market for malls is also on the rise.

What mall security needs in India

Unlike in developed countries, in Indian malls, security begins even before you step into it. Visitors need to walk through metal detectors to enter a mall and have their bags scanned with x-ray, or in some older malls, by staff.

The situation is no different when you drive into a parking lot either. Cars are visually inspected by the staff before entering the premises, mainly for explosives or weapons. Guards with mirrors attached to long handles are a common sight in India, which they use to inspect the bottom part of the vehicles.

Frankly, though, these are not high-tech security systems. These systems have been in place for several years now, and the new malls coming up are no longer just content with using them. R Nandakumar, President of the Electronic Security Association of India, and a systems integrator himself points out that new malls are looking at solutions that are at par with that’s popular in the industry.

“When it comes to surveillance cameras, most of them prefer to use 4MP cameras now,” Nandakumar said. “This is what the camera resolution that is popular in the market right now. Boom barriers and metal detectors are also necessary.”

Analytic solutions

Although video analytics have several benefits, they have so far not made any significant entry into the mall vertical in India. However, Nandakumar feels this could change from 2020, as more software companies, both Indian and foreign offer solutions that could offer features that go beyond security to business operations.

“Heat maps and people counting are popular features among new mall managements,” Nandakumar opined. “Number plate recognition solutions could also become more popular in the parking lots as it makes the process simpler for customers and more secure for the management.”

But what’s lacking?  

All this sounds good. A rosy picture of an emerging market growing at a steady pace. But on closer inspection, you will know that the market is not without gaps and problems that need to be solved. For instance, while there is a need for analytic solutions in malls and other segments, Nandakumar points out that many of the analytic solution vendors are not able to provide timely services to integrators.

“For instance, I had contacted a popular analytics company a few months back, to prepare a proposal for a customer,” Nandakumar said. “But they did not get back to me with a clear picture of the features their solutions offer, which I needed, in time. In the end, when I was just about to go for a client meeting, I called them up, desperately asking them to send me at least some material that can be used. And I received an email with some instructions videos at the last minute.”

Such a tardy response from customer response teams forces SIs to stay with large manufacturers who provide hardware-based analytics that may not be as feature-rich as their specialized software counterparts, but are still easily accessible and can be implemented in time for the customer’s requirements.

The future

In short, the mall security market in India is just beginning to grow. This means the opportunities are tremendous. Yet, there is a general lack of proactiveness from customers and systems integrators alike, simply because the benefits are not considered well, and solutions are not always available. For new companies looking to enter the Indian market, this presents an opportunity as a new decade begins.

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