Winnipeg-based entrepreneur Doug Touchette has launched a virtual shopping centre that is dedicated to brands that manufacture products in Canada as well as Canadian food and service providers. The Made in Canada Mall is welcoming businesses to join nearly 80 companies that have already signed up to be on the platform since February. The official grand opening for the mall is July 1st.
The layout of the online shopping centre mimic the floor plan of an actual mall which is part of the attraction of the colourful website. As with a physical shopping centre, the Made in Canada Mall’s website is broken down into categories ranging from fashion to home and garden and recreation, and users can also play music that is embedded into the site. Visitors to the site can click on a business and shop its website directly.
Founder Doug Touchette said that he was laid off from a Fortune 500 company at the end of June 2020 due to the pandemic, and by July he’d already started creating the initial prototype for the Made in Canada Mall. After several months of planning and creating, the online mall launched on February 20th of this year. With that, social media accounts were launched to grow awareness for the initiative.
Simplified graphics were used for impact, and Touchette said that the site purposely lacks any web pop-ups, cookie tracking or external advertising that might otherwise slow the website down. “We have come up with something that is fully functional in todays 4G and spotty 5G landscape and is the world’s first true online shopping centre where shoppers can flow from screen to screen full of incredible websites, and support Canadian businesses and jobs to boot,” Touchette said.
The website is in a first phase and Touchette said that the interactivity will grow as the delivery systems become more capable of giving shoppers a functional experience.
“The premise is simple — curate manufacturers and merchants of Canadian-made goods and services and present them to dedicated Canadian shoppers in a unique and fun-to-use fashion. Hence the claims I make of the world’s first true online shopping centre, using familiar map-like commands, a shopper can navigate through screens of merchant websites blending bricks-and-mortar window-shopping nostalgia with modern e-commerce.”
The Made in Canada Mall’s layout aims to encourage visitors to stay and shop. Touchette said that since the soft-opening Feb 20, the online mall has had over 5,000 legitimate visitors who have averaged four merchant websites each while in the mall on that shopping trip.
“Our Mall is built with the shopper experience in mind and this is evident in our approach to search fields, including a dozen shopper ‘interests’ instead of dozens of specific product searches that might yield nothing.”
Retailers and other businesses can sign up to be part of the Made in Canada Mall with one annual ‘rent’ payment which is kept very affordable, according to Touchette. “Being a virtual landlord with affordable ‘rent’, we can boast one accounting transaction a year and the merchant can concentrate resources on their existing website where they already have investment. We have counters programmed for the Merchant’s window visits and website referrals from the mall to include with future invoices. No middle man means greater profit on goods sold for the merchants.”
“Further, the latest Federal budget is introducing GST collection for online Markets, but the rules don’t change for Merchant website direct sales to consumers,” Touchette went on to say.
Services such as Indigeno Travel and Out of The Blue Outfitters were brought in to encourage travel within Canada. Curbside Concerts was included as well to help the performing music community, and the Canadian Fashion Network was given a store as they advocate for Canadian fashion manufacturers. “We will continue to do whatever we can for things like animal causes, veterans, arts and culture, education and fitness, Canadian travel and hospitality,” Touchette said.
The ‘soundtrack for the mall’ is a streaming radio station built and run by Phil Cyr in Montreal. “We are working together to build a Mall ‘stage’ where we will video stream concerts by Canadian artists from some theatre in Montreal. We’re also going to have streaming Santa for the kiddies and am putting together the concept for the Mall ‘Food Court’ which is coming in due course”.
For more information and to sign up as a merchant on the Made in Canada Mall, visit: madeincanadamall.ca