The impact of Covid-19 has hammered the high street, with multiple lockdowns and the enforced closure of high street shops for months at a time necessitating a shift to online shopping. The requirement to adapt the retail environment to accommodate social distancing, not to mention the public fear of being in busy places, has also had a huge effect, with many consumers preferring to avoid the high street.

These factors have driven retail spending online like never before; for example, Amazon has reported a 38 per cent sales increase on 2019.

As a retail business, it may be time to realign your business and push your online offering or perhaps build an online presence from scratch. Companies such as are a good place to start. Getting the right domain name and a good web hosting service will ensure you start on the right track. From there, you can utilise a number of methods to build a successful online offering.

What are the benefits of shopping in-store?

Retailers with an online presence have faced a challenge to replicate the in-store experience online. In physical shops, consumers are tempted with signature scents, tasters, visuals, and the main benefit of being able to handle goods themselves, testing quality and being drawn into a sale.

Retailers need to view their online strategy separately, finding unique experiences that work virtually.

What can retailers do to improve the online experience?

Drawing a consumer in for a sale and stopping them moving on to browse on a competitor site will need a few different methods.

Virtual reality (VR) is a truly effective tool, immersing shoppers fully in the online experience through shop tours and enabling customers to select particular items or view styled displays from the comfort of their sofa.

Augmented reality takes VR a step further, enabling the consumer to see the store products in their own home rather than in a display or in a styled ‘home’, linking with a camera on the consumer’s phone. This technology can be used in many scenarios, such as interiors or fashion retail; for example, it can enable customers to ‘try on’ clothes virtually.

In addition, virtual experiences are something online retailers can explore. Online events, such as masterclasses in cocktail making or makeup tutorials featuring the products in a virtual reality setting, make for a holistic shopping experience. Seeing the products in action and in a VR display setting is a creative way to encourage people to make a purchase.

Face-to-face customer service cannot be replicated exactly online; however, the use of live chat is a great way for consumers to obtain quick answers to any questions they may have. Some retailers offer video or audio options, going the extra mile to recreate in-store customer service.

Exploiting the drive for an impulse or emergency purchase, retailers are giving customers the choice between click and collect purchases from a local collection point and same-day or next-day delivery.