More than 100 brands have signed up for The 360º Mall, a 3D shopping centre created by a 16-year-old NSW schoolboy that will launch in Australia next month.
The 360º Mall, which describes itself as a “world-first shopping experience”, is Australia’s first virtual online 3D shopping centre and was created by 16-year-old Alex Danieli.
It’s been reported more than 100 brands have signed up for The 360º Mall – including Adidas, Apple, Dell, Billabong, Nike and Fisher & Paykel – which will launch on October 1.
When a user visits The 360º Mall website, they will be guided through an automated animation of the exterior of the shopping mall before being directed to a search page.
From there, the user will be able to click on stores and/or products. When they click on a store, they will be directed by one of three routes through the mall.
The stores are placed in categories based on what they sell, and sections are based on their target market, i.e. upmarket, middle market, price competitive, etc.
Once in a store, the user will be able to view all of the products. When they click to purchase a product, they will be redirected to the merchant’s checkout on their site.
In a letter addressed to prospective merchants, Danieli said The 360º Mall is compatible with all mobile devices.
“Being a merchant in The 360º Mall is easy, fast and requires minimal manpower,” Danieli said.
“With no contract period, no cancellation fee, no minimum store fees and no sign-up fees, you have no risk using The 360º Mall as a marketing channel.”
Brian Walker, managing director of The Retail Doctor Group, says he’s not convinced by the concept.
“Ultimately, people still want a human experience. They want interaction and they want a tactile experience,” Walker says.
“Online sales are around $11.7 billion a year now… I think a 3D mall will appeal to that market, but it’s not the dominant retail market.”
“Even in four years – say retail sales get to about $300 billion in four years – online retail will get to about $30 billion; about 10%. [A virtual mall is] just another channel.”
The 360º Mall says it can offer the experience of going to a shopping centre without leaving the house. But Walker says shopping is “fundamentally about leaving the house”.
“For those who want to sit at home and look online all day, [there will be demand]. I see it as a reasonably nice offer, but I don’t think it’s going to set the world on fire,” he says.
Walker says it will be interesting to see what impact The 360º Mall has on asset managers.
“Westfield is already online, so I see more developing in that [3D mall] space but it won’t take away from the main game,” he says.