Malls as Entertainment

In Columbus, Ohio, Gordon Group Holdings is developing a hybrid mall / internet space called Epicenter.  This space, scheduled to open in 2006 at the Polaris Fashion Place, will combine the convenience of online shopping with the consumer desire to feel, touch and try on.  It looks like a mall, but something is different.  In this situation, visitors carry with them a little device called a “BuyPod” where they scan the items they’d like to purchase.  Subsequently,the item is available for pickup that day or is shipped from the warehouse.  According to John D. Morris, a senior retail analyst at Harris Nesbitt, “Today’s consumer demands convenience with specificity, instant gratification and minimal effort.  We’re a time-starved, demand-driven society” (NY Times, May 23, 2005).

One of the goals of this hybrid space is to reduce sales staff.  If consumers are comfortable with browsing on their own while online, then why can’t they browse on their own in geographic space?  It’s  the Internet-plus.  Retailers are clamoring for a solution to their labor problems.  And this would dispose of all those pesky service-sector jobs. 

If this model proves successful, we can expect developments in the technology with such things as google searches for products on the “buypod” and, eventually, the ability to use one’s own personal device to purchase things.  Whether in real space or digital space, we should be able to point, click, and buy.