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Interesting piece from Bloomberg about how e-commerce giant Alibaba is creating virtual malls.

Here's how it frames the story:

"Clobbered by the crushing effects of the coronavirus pandemic, thousands of retailers from Bangkok to Singapore have rushed to set up online shops on big e-commerce platforms to stay afloat this year. Now entire shopping malls are going virtual for the first time.

"Marina Square Shopping Mall -- nestled among luxury hotels and popular tourist attractions in central Singapore -- is taking more than 30 of its tenants online with Lazada, the Southeast Asian unit of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. It’s the first shopping center in the city-state to create a mini virtual replica of its physical mall.

"'It’s a new concept in Singapore,' James Chang, chief executive officer of Lazada Singapore, said in an interview.  'From a shopping mall’s perspective, it could be seen as competition, but we worked out this partnership because it provides visibility and awareness of the tenants and offline mall'."

The story notes that "this follows similar moves by Siam Center, a landmark shopping mall in Bangkok built in the 1970s, which teamed up with Lazada to set up its virtual mall with about 40 tenants. In Indonesia, more than 100 tenants of three malls by developer Pakuwon Group are going live on Lazada."

KC's View:

Hard to know about the specifics, but it seems to me that the time is ripe for e-commerce platforms and mall/shopping center owners to start initiating these kinds of partnerships, finding ways to work together to serve shoppers, not defending boundaries that consumers are finding less and less confining.