Kevin Tan flashed a bright if a bit awkward smile when asked whether Megaworld Corp. is concerned about the rise of online shopping in the Philippines.
The senior vice president and head of lifestyle malls of the company known for building fully integrated townships all over the country was welcoming reporters to the launch of Megaworld’s 14th mall.
It is called Southwoods Mall, and is expected to be the next activity hub just south of Muntinlupa.
Tan, also the head of Megaworld’s commercial division, believes malls still have the edge when it comes to giving consumers a complete customer experience. After all, clothes are still better fitted before bought, and meal deliveries just don’t cut it the way a dining experience does.
The P2-billion mall opens in October and is expected to attract two million people from 141 barangays within a 10-kilometer radius occupied by houses, industrial parks and schools. It will be the jewel in the crown of Southwoods City, Megaworld’s 561-hectare development that spans Biñan, Laguna and Carmona, Cavite.
Malls provide consumers the opportunity to “wrap up the customer experience” in a way online shopping cannot. Southwoods Mall, Tan said, would boast of “better store design and customer service” and memorable food and beverage service.
The mall’s strength would be F&B (“around 40 percent of the mall”) “because we are a big F&B culture.”
Still, Tan stressed that brick-and-mortar malls will have something to learn from online retail. “We can learn to coexist,” he said.
Besides, being an archipelago still makes online deliveries challenging, he added.
“In the Philippine context, I think it’s still a long way to go. Being an archipelago means investments in logistics, and that is what is stopping (online shopping) from growing so quickly.”
At present, the Philippines ranks first among Southeast Asian neighbors in mall/lifestyle development, and is second only to China in Asia.
The three-story Southwoods Mall has a 58,000-square-meter floor area for shopping, dining, entertainment and leisure. The mall has a department store, a food hall that comes with 24-hour dining and live band entertainment, a supermarket and four cinemas.
Corridors have marble tiled floors with an undulating pattern. The curves are repeated in the wood and glass details around the indoor areas. A roof deck garden on the third level opens to an open-air atrium with a manicured garden. On a clear day, diners and shoppers can see the Tagaytay ridge on the west side and the Taguig skyline in the east.
“We envision this mall to be a major dining destination as we welcome some global dining brands and homegrown restaurant concepts,” Tan said. “This will be another showcase of how we want our next lifestyle malls to look like (while) keeping in mind the distinct character of every township that we’ve built,” he added.
Tan said Southwoods Mall will be easily accessible. “It is actually the first big mall along SLEX that you can go to after Alabang. It’s just 30 minutes away from Makati City and Fort Bonifacio, and 35 minutes away from the airport.”
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