Will there soon be an online entity that will put the bricks-and-mortar Mall of America to shame? It seems Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) is one step closer to becoming the Internet's equivalent of a centralized, sprawling shopping mall -- and gee, it's always open. Although we already knew of a deal linking Amazon and Bombay Co. (NYSE:BBA), the companies announced late yesterday that they have taken the relationship to the next level.

In October, Bombay joined the Amazon Services Merchants program, where it offered a selection of its wares online in the Home & Garden section of the site. Now, though, Bombay will get a higher profile, as well as the things shoppers like about Amazon, such as 1-Click shopping and Personalization, as well as familiar Amazon Community features, like Wish Lists, Recommendations, and Customer Reviews.

Apparently, Bombay isn't too concerned with Amazon's recent legal skirmish with Toys "R" Us (NYSE:TOY). After all, Toys "R" Us has become a successful online venture based on its prime real estate on Amazon's site. Amazon similarly plays host to several other retailers, including Office Depot (NYSE:ODP) and Target (NYSE:TGT), and that's a habit that's been helpful to its revenue base as well as theirs.

A successful online presence could be Bombay's dream come true. Bombay's been kind of bombing lately, judging by its recent earnings, when it revealed a wider quarterly loss and same-store sales that fell 9%. Meanwhile, there seems to be softness in the home furnishings and decor market at large, judging by the recent travails suffered by such stores as Pier 1 (NYSE:PIR) and in particular, Restoration Hardware (NASDAQ:RSTO).

Meanwhile, there's just no time like the present to quickly ramp up an online presence. Momentum is definitely on the side of online retail, seeing how the practice of mouse-click shopping is growing in popularity. Recent data from Forrester Research reported a doubling in online sales to a total of $114 billion in 2003; companies like Amazon have certainly been beneficiaries of the increasing popularity of the habit. This year, online sales are seen increasing 27% to $144 billion as people click their way to new stuff.

Can Bombay get a hike in customer awareness -- and sales -- from the high-profile partnership? It can't hurt, and it certainly could get it to front and center of the mouse clicks.

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Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.