The future of Internet shopping?

I n the future, online shopping will be less point-click-buy and more of a virtual mall experience.

Customers will actually ride elevators on their computers and visit virtual replicas of their favorite stores. Shopping will be accompanied by a soundtrack that can be customized by the shopper, and other attractions, such as sports bars and piano lounges will complete the experience.

At the Xbrand Center, the future is here today, as the Xbrand Mall is already offering shoppers a futuristic shopping experience complete with all the amenities of a local mall.

The Xbrand Center is online shopping on a whole other level. CEO Jason Vigil knew his shopping site had to be different.

“I knew I wanted to have an online mall, and as I looked at the competition out there, I realized that we had to do something out of the ordinary to be successful in the market,” Vigil said. “I wanted something where the customer felt they were at the mall and not on a Web site. Then I met my partner Karl Mitchell. We put a team together, found some small investors and here we are.”

Vigil and Mitchell hired more than 20 professionals, including graphic designers and 3D model developers, to construct the Xbrand Center. Mall construction started in July 2005, and the Xbrand mall launched on Dec. 1, 2005.

The finished product is more than just a place to do online shopping. The center also includes a rollercoaster, serenity pool, a theater, a recording studio and a nightclub.

Vigil explained that he added these areas to the mall. “We a) wanted to entertain our customers and b) because we wanted to create a lifestyle where people can shop and hang out while interacting with other shoppers,” Vigil said.

The mall itself, located in the right tower, is divided into five sections. The Vintage floors house clothiers Ed Hardy, Edward Dada, Hardcore Watches and Spy, among others.

The Mixed Martial Arts section is where UFC fans can purchase gear from their favorite fighters, including Chuck Liddel and Ken Shamrock.

The Fashion section offers clothes for kids and skaters alike, with stores such as Going Gaga and Gravis. Chump Industries can be found in the Industry section, along with CycleShop, coming soon.

The Beverly portion of the mall offers a range of products, from handcuff purses at Cuffz by Linz to vitamins and supplements at Vitamin Discount Center.

“We hope to have a place where people can come for the most current, cutting-edge fashion, get the best prices and offer a forum where consumers can chat with one another about happening trends in the fashion industry,” Vigil said.

In addition to the retail stores, Xbrand just began what Vigil calls ‘liquid marketing.’

“We have Xbrand Fluids as well,” Vigil said. Xbrand Fluids produces a line of private label energy drinks. We just started venturing into this, and we’re really excited about it. What we do is take your brand, your logo or whatever it is that you want, and put it on our can.”

(Xbrand also licenses the Ed Hardy Energy Drink). Vigil said there are not many other companies that sell private label energy drinks, and Xbrand is unique due to low prices and no minimum orders.

Vigil said Xbrand will continue to expand the mall.

“We definitely have a lot going on. At the recent fashion convention, MAGIC, Pool and Project, we picked up over 70 new retail stores with cutting-edge designs and look forward to adding their stores in the next few months,” Vigil said.

“In the near future we also plan on completing our Underground project of the mall, which focuses toward a younger generation and offers more street/skater/grunge threads. We also are looking forward to completing an optional HTML site, which will offer a more conventional, faster way to purchase at Xbrand Mall.”

Extreme sports may soon be coming to Xbrand as well.

“Down the line we would like for the Underground to reach all of the extreme sports, such as dirt bikes, skateboards, BMX, etc. and (to make it so that) after you go through the whole Underground you climb out of a manhole, and you’re in a city where there will be an Urban project that will feature urban designs,” Vigil said. “We’d love to have a snow park where you can purchase ski/snowboard wear as well as a videogame-like 3D part where consumers can snowboard/ski in the park.”

To access all that the Xbrand Center has to offer, visit xbrandmall.com.

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