Watch: John Lewis, Dixons Carphone and Watches of Switzerland’s virtual shopping reviewed

JL virtual retail

Virtual shopping has become increasingly common over the past year as retailers try to bring staff expertise and service to the online shopper. How do the services offered by some of retail’s biggest chains compare? And do they match up to the in-store experience? Grace Bowden reports.

Virtual shopping consultations have been rolled out by a number of retailers over the past year, which saw many stores shuttered for months at a time. Retailers ranging from Lush to Liberty launched virtual services to help shoppers unable to access in-store support and advice, and to give them a more personalised online shopping experience.

A raft of measures – from advising less tech-savvy shoppers on smartphones to follow-along gin cocktail classes – have popped up in recent months and many have proven popular.

John Lewis says that since launching its virtual retail services on April 13 last year, just three weeks after the beginning of the first national lockdown, 11,000 virtual appointments have been held; while Watches of Switzerland says its virtual boutique has hosted more than 10,000 customers since it launched in November.

But how effective are these virtual experiences? And with stores set to reopen in a month, will virtual retail services be relegated as a make-do measure? 

Grace Bowden tries out some virtual services to find out.

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