By Misha Pabari | Marketing Assistant

The coronavirus pandemic has completely reshaped how consumers can purchase goods and services. Global ecommerce data from Salesforce Commerce Cloud suggests that the number of unique digital shoppers rose by 40% year-over-year (YOY)

The closure of physical stores has left many businesses unable to operate normally, with brands and retailers shifting their focus to online sale channels. The most nimble and innovative have responded quickly to ensure that the value add derived from stores is not lost while they can only sell online; and many of the best ideas will also be beneficial to the online experience their customers receive for the longer term.

We’ve collated six of the best examples of brands and retailers successfully recreating offline shopping experiences online during COVID-19.

Brompton Bicycle – Bringing in-store expertise online

With many of its stores closed at a time when citizens are being encouraged to cycle, UK brand Brompton Bicycle launched a new personal video shopping service to help bring its in-store expertise to online customers.

The online service connects customers with staff at the retailer’s flagship store to demonstrate the latest Brompton bikes, providing an engaging shopping experience. Committed to delivering the highest level of customer service, the live video call feature also allows its staff to give tailored advice to customers on its selection of accessories and clothing.

 

Brompton Bicycles recreating offline shopping experiences online blog

MECCA LIVE – 24-hour online beauty hub

In early April, popular Australian beauty retailer MECCA introduced a brand-new online beauty hub to adapt to the nationwide lockdown across the ANZ region.

The 24-hour beauty hub is recreating offline shopping experiences online with its live curation of interactive feeds, all of which allow the retailer to engage with its audience and drive sales through its online channel. MECCA Concierge is recreating the offline shopping experience online by offering customers virtual makeup and skincare consultations while the retailer’s blog content and MECCA TV livestreaming events allow beauty lovers to keep up to date with the latest trends through online tutorials and in-depth interviews.

MECCA LIVE Recreating offline shopping experiences online blog

Heinz to Home - Direct to Consumer ecommerce

FMCG giant Heinz introduced its first direct to consumer (D2C) website in the UK, in a bid to keep up with the surge in consumer demand during COVID-19. The Heinz to Home site offers locked-down customers bundles of its core range of tinned foods and sauces, with free delivery for NHS staff and essential workers.

Whilst this may only be a temporary measure for Heinz, we can expect to see an increased investment in D2C from several brands looking to gain more control over their distribution and alternative routes to market. To see how 100 consumer brands are differentiating their D2C websites and adding value through their online proposition and customer experience, download our report here.

Heinz to Home recreating offline shopping experiences online blog

JD Live – Online clubbing to drive alcohol sales

Chinese retailer JD.com teamed up with Taihe Music Group and alcohol brands such as Budweiser, Pernod Ricard, Carlsberg and Remy Martin to provide entertainment and boost its online sales.

Musicians and DJs host weekly shows through the retailer’s livestreaming platform - JD Live - introducing viewers to alcoholic beverages that are available to buy with a single click. During one of its shows, sales of whiskey products increased 8 times compared with the same period the day before, and another saw beer sales up 40% on the previous day.

The initiative has been so successful that JD.com says it will create a long-term product marketing programme to highlight alcohol brands through such online events, and will extend the concept to other categories too.

JD Live recreating offline shopping experiences online blog

Dubai Mall and noon.com – Creating a virtual mall experience

The UAE has faced strict lockdown measures since COVID-19. Recreating offline shopping experiences online, Dubai Mall launched a strategic partnership with online marketplace noon.com to bring together many of the stores in the shopping centre online in one place - including essential retailers such as supermarkets and pharmacies.

Launched in April, 71 stores have gone live on noon.com so far, with more being encouraged to sign-up. UAE shopping centres are now open again, but only allowed to operate at 30% capacity with strict guidelines, so this virtual mall experience will be valuable for consumers who may still struggle to get to stores in the coming months.

Dubai Mall Noon.com recreating offline shopping experiences online

ASOS – recreating offline shopping experiences online

UK-based online fashion retailer ASOS has brought forward the launch of a new augmented reality fit tool, so that it doesn’t need to shoot product on models in its studios while social distancing regulations are in place.

See My Fit maps and renders a view of a clothing item on six models with different body shapes, to give customers a better idea of what an item will look like on them. Up to 500 new items on the site will have realistic product imagery created this way each week.

ASOS was already experimenting with this technology, so has been able to scale up its use quickly in response to COVID-19.

ASOS Virtual Catwalk recreating offline shopping experiences online

These six examples showcase how it is possible to replicate some of what stores are great at – including allowing customers to experience product, receive in-person customer support and browse products from multiple brands – with online experiences. While these initiatives have been conceived as a response to COVID-19, the majority will be beneficial to the retailers and brands who have implemented them in the longer term.

To discuss how Practicology can help to define your digital strategy, help trade your direct to consumer website or support your marketplace presence please contact us at hello@practicology.com.

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