A while back, I was writing about LVMH because they were featured in a briefing on The Economist. One of the strategies that were highlighted in the article was Louis Vuitton's effort in researching customer flows in malls:
In 2005, when Maurizio Borletti, owner of several prominent department stores in Italy and France, was preparing for the opening of a refurbished La Rinascente department store in Milan, he recalls, the Vuitton people built a scale model of the building in their offices to understand customer flows and get the best positioning. “In this they’re the most professional in the industry,” he says.
I didn't think too highly of it then but recently I was forced to think about this issue when I wonder why a crowd in the mall refuse to go to the cafe I was at.
The design of Iluma is definitely pretty interesting; with all the glittery looking stuff on the building surface, some kind of balcony on the middle floors and fancy looking glass doors that looks as though they weigh a ton but opens automatically (at least some of them). The outside main entrance area, there are 2 escalators; one leading from and another leading to the second level of the building. The interior of the building is big, and the ground floor is capable of holding lots of people in the middle, perfect for events and normally used for cart-stalls giving it a bazaar feel.
There's another pair of escalators there, leading to the fourth floor directly. Wait a minute, fourth floor? Yes, it leads you directly to the fourth floor, by-passing the second and the third, which totally explains why it's hard to get crowds within the building to go to the shops on the second floor. The pair of escalators inside the building that leads to the second floor is absolutely hidden from the crowd standing in the middle of the interior of the building. Some pictures of the interior will help you see why. Even when it takes about 40 seconds or so to reach the end of that long escalator, it's fun enough to attract people to hit that level where a bunch of other cafes awaits.
The Coffee Bean will largely have to rely on people entering from the escalators at the front main entrance for business (come on, who takes the lifts these days?). On 13 December when 8-Days Magazine was having their 1001 issue exhibition, people who are naturally drawn to the ground floor interior of the building will probably not take that escalator and so the crowd they anticipate at their cafe will probably not manifest. The only people who might patronize them are those who came over to Iluma via the newly built link bridge from Parcos Bugis Junction and unable to find the escalator that will lead them down to the center of activity at the ground floor...
The customer flows in malls are pretty important in this sense, the location of the escalators, the entrance/exits, the link bridges and the placements of your signboard. That will all be before your staff's attitude. Studying these flows before you rent out a space in a mall is going to make a whole load of difference to the destiny of that shop/unit.