This article in the April 1984 issue of Online Today, CompuServe's magazine for CIS subscribers, announced The Electronic Mall.
A shopping mall in your living room? That's right. A new online shopping service, The Electronic Mall, debuts on CompuServe's Consumer Information Service this month.
The Electronic Mall will allow CompuServe subscribers to buy from such merchants as American Express, Record World, Sears and Waldenbooks without leaving their homes.
The Electronic Mall is a joint offering of CompuServe and L.M. Berry and Company, one of the leading Yellow Pages directory publishers. It is being offered on a trial basis to CompuServe subscribers for a four-month period beginning in April.
“We've put together a carefully designed package of services that gives the consumer choice and convenience,” explains L.M. Berry Vice-President Stephen Swanson. “It's our belief that the Electronic Mall supersedes any other online shopping service available today, both in terms of sophistication of the software and the breadth of merchandise. With more than 60 major retailers and manufacturers represented, the Electronic Mall may well give people at home more shopping alternatives than they would find at the local shopping center.”
The Mall is divided into areas each representing a particular type of product or service: the Hardware Store, the Software Boutique, Book Bazaar, the Newsstand, the Magazine Shop, the Travel Mart, the Record Emporium, the Photo Booth, the Gardening Shed and the Financial Market.
In-depth information on most products for sale is available in The Electronic Mall. If additional information is required for purchasing decisions, a majority of merchants accept EMAIL queries about their products and services.
Offerings in the Mall will change constantly as merchants add new values and update product information. Many will offer discounts and premiums to CompuServe subscribers who patronize the Mall.
The May 1984 issue of Online Today included a full-page Electronic Mall ad on the inside back cover, accompanied by a list of Electronic Mall merchants on the opposite page. The original listing was a full page high, one merchant per line, but for easier skimming I've collapsed the list here:
Enter CompuServe’s Electronic Mall™ and shop at your convenience in these exciting departments.
The Micro Mart • The Department Stores • The Travel Agent • The Book Bazaar • The Record Emporium • The Photo Booth • The Software Shop • The Financial Market • The Magazine Kiosk • The Gardening Shed • The Newsstand
A sample of the companies participating in CompuServe’s Electronic Mall™ includes:
Amdek • American Airlines • American Express • AST Research • Bantam • CBS Publishing • CDEX • Colonial Penn • Commodore • Computer World • Digital Equipment • dilithium Press • 800 Software • Heath • Hertz • EF Hutton • Inmac • Innovative Software • Magazine Supply House • Manufacturer's Hanover Trust • McGraw-Hill • Metropolitan Life • Microsoft • Miracle Computing • Misco • Newsnet • Official Airline Guide • Pan American Electronics • Peachtree Software • Practical Peripherals • Program Store • Professional Color Labs • RCA Record Clubs • Record World • Sears • Select Information Exchange • Sim Computer Products • Software Advisor • Stark Brothers • Supersoft • Max Ule • Vanguard • VisiCorp • Ziff-Davis
Merchants and manufacturers who want to participate in the Electronic Mall™ may contact: Stephen A. Swanson, L.M. Berry & Co., P.O. Box 6000, Dayton, OH 45401, (513) 296-2015.
Beginning with the July 1984 issue, Online Today added a “CompuServe Update” section, and the first edition included “A note from the Mall Manager”:
Dear CompuServe subscriber:
It’s been great getting your messages these last few weeks, especially since they have been so positive. It’s now my turn to send you a letter and tell you about the many exciting events happening in the Mall this month.
First, I'm pleased to announce that seven new stores have opened. Construction is complete on the American Express Vacation Store, located in the Travel Agency. AST Research, a leading manufacturer of enhancement products for the IBM personal computer, has set up shop in the Micro Mart. Miracle Computing, producers of EX software for PC DOS operating systems, can be found in the Software Boutique. And, you can now order Misco's catalog of computer accessories by simply typing GO MO.
Manufacturers Hanover has established a Convenience Center in the Financial Market to make it easy for you to find out about their IRA, money management and market plus investment programs. Also available in the Financial Market is “Market Watch,” a new, weekly investment newsletter from Heinold Commodities. Finally, by visiting the Newsstand, you can now subscribe to NewsNet, an online information retrieval service offering a broad range of industry and professional newsletters.
A number of stores have expanded their offerings. Record World’s complete 5,000 title catalog, including rock, folk and country is now online, as are expanded science fiction and computer selections from Waldenbooks. CBS Magazines has added two magazines, Cuisine and Audio, to its offerings. In addition, a new set of car statistics is available in “Road & Track Looks At …” The coming weeks also bring many additions to American Express shopping catalogs, particularly “Electronics By Design.” Our friends at Sears have instituted regular updates of “What’s On Sale,” a catalog of consumer electronics items specially discounted from the Sears Big Book.
The rest of this letter offers helpful hints on using the Electronic Mall, put together as a result of your questions.
Can I place an order from Canada?
Most merchants accept orders from Canada, but, to be sure, check the merchants’ ordering information section first to save yourself effort.
What about shipping and handling charges?
Please be aware that the order summary presented on the electronic order form usually does not include shipping and handling. These charges vary by merchant and type of merchandise ordered. Because of this, you should read a store's ordering information before making a purchase to learn about any additional costs.
Why can’t you order from every merchant?
The Electronic Mall is designed to bring you a variety of services — everything from extensive merchandise catalogs to single item product information. Not all merchants in the Mall, particularly manufacturers, are equipped to accept orders directly. They've taken Mall real estate in order to communicate with you more effectively about their products and services.
Can you explain how I order again?
To order an item in the Mall, simply press the letter “O” followed by the item to be ordered. The order is placed in a personal file for you. You can either continue shopping the store or exit, at which time an order form automatically appears that adds your charges and provides options for paying the merchant. You can order as many items as you like in any individual store before checking out.
One final note: Although located in the Micro Mart, Pan American Electronics has a fantastic software catalog for Radio Shack products and color computers. Please remember not to overlook this store the next time you are shopping for software.
The grand opening of 47th Street Photo and Bloomingdale’s is expected any day. Sorry for the construction delays.
I Am, Your Faithful,
In subsequent issues, the “CompuServe Update” section of Online Today continued to run columns about the Electronic Mall. Here, from the August 1984 issue, is an Electronic Mall Directory that accompanied the column and gives an idea of the breadth of its offerings in the early days.