Furniture specialist CSL is developing a virtual shop that customers can browse online while speaking with a trained personal shopper who will guide them through their purchases.

The Manchester-based retailer has invested £500,000 in the technology, which CSL managing director Jason Tyldesley called a “groundbreaking online retail experience”.

He said: “The web doesn’t currently offer any truly interactive experience in sofa [retailing]. We’re deepening the customer experience. So many of our customers are quite happy to shop online – they are no less discerning than our other customers.”

He added that the online service will offer for the first time a “fully consultative advice service”.

Tyldesley would not reveal when the virtual store will launch but said “some aspects” of it will be online in December.

The move comes as the retailer rolls out online delivery to the whole of the UK after the opening of two new distribution centres.

CSL is targeting 45 UK stores over the next five years, which Tyldesley said will enable it to achieve turnover of £350m to £370m.