We’ve seen online malls being launched by likes of Westfield and AMP where different brands are housed on the one site but another online mall has been launched where it enables customers to virtually stroll through an animated shopping centre.

The 360° Mall replicates a lifelike representation of a shopping centre; complete with an elevator, advertising and all the shop fitouts, where users can ‘walk’ through a shop door.

The online mall has been established by 15-year-old Alex Danieli from Sydney who discovered after some research that older people much preferred to shop at shopping centres because they enjoyed “the mall experience”.

"I realised that what most people miss about shopping online is the feeling of actually going shopping, so I've tried to recreate that with The 360° Mall.  People 'walk' past virtual shop fronts and can see other virtual shoppers so they don't feel isolated.  They can 'see' which other stores are nearby, go for a browse and there's never a huge queue at the till,” Danieli said.

After users have been in the mall for a few minutes a transparent overlay appears on the screen asking where you'd like to go or what product you wish to buy.  You can enter a product and then choose a store from the options provided, or you can see which stores are on the mall and pick one to go to.
"It's really easy and it feels more natural.” Danieli said.

The other factor about the mall that Danieli is hoping will attract customers is that it offers a different level of service depending on which store you choose. 

The price competitive stores are on the lower level and the mid-market stores are on the middle level.  Both are reached via escalators and the shopper walks past 'virtual' stores on the way. 

The upper level, however, is reserved for up-market stores and customers to these stores get to ride up in a lift with glass doors so they can see the whole mall below them.  When they arrive, the doors open directly into their chosen store.

After two years in the making, the mall has 90 stores within its virtual portal, including SABA and Sportscraft but Danieli said there plans for expansion.
"We're a virtual mall so we will always have room for some more and they don't even need to be Australian! We're a worldwide mall for the worldwide web."

He also said in order to truly localise online shopping there has plans to launch The 360° Mall in Asia, Europe, UK and the United States.