January 19, 2001, 12:00 AM

Online Mall To Mimic Offline Model

Don Davis

Editor in Chief

Mall.com Inc. says its Mall.com e-commerce destination will launch this Sunday, upon the start of Sunday's Mall.com 500, the championship race for the Indy Racing League. Mall.com will recreate a trip to the local bricks-and-mortar mall, says the Austin, Texas-based company, and that it will feature more than 200 nationally known brand-name stores.
     The site was founded, the firm says, on the belief that existing, ingrained consumer behaviors and proven retail models can be applied to the Internet to create a successful e-commerce venture. Promising "convenience and simplicity," Mall.com's President and CEO Lawrence F. Latham says, "Shopping online requires too much searching and surfing," and that the new site will provide one place to shop for name-brand items from favorite merchants.
     Special features found at Mall.com include e-mail, fax and voicemail capabilities to enable users to get messages from merchants announcing sales, specials, events and incentives; search functionality that allows consumers to search all of the merchants on the Mall.com for specific brands and products; capabilities that allow shoppers to purchase items from multiple stores without having to re-enter personal data; as well as movie trailers and a Food Court where shoppers can order their favorite refreshments.
     Planned features include the ability for two people to shop simultaneously from different locations, as well as shopping cart features that allow for a single point of purchase per visit, the company says.
     The launch of Mall.com will coincide with the company's sponsorship of the nationally televised Mall.com 500 Indy Racing League Championship to take place at the Texas Motor Speedway at 2 p.m. EST on ABC. It will also sponsor Treadway Racing driver and championship contender Sam Schmidt. A $10 million advertising campaign will support the launch, says the firm.

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