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Online buyers prefer real-life human help over AI says Currys

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  • Tech buyers in the decade to come will prefer real-life human help to faceless robot retail
  • New look Currys predicts an era of H.I. – Human (not artificial) Intelligence
  • 3 million conversations with online shoppers via ShopLive, in last 18 months, proves desire for human help
  • Research from the retailer shows that more than half (58%) of Brits want to speak to a real-life expert before they buy
  • Research also shows that 57% of shoppers who get real human help before they buy are likely to get the right product first time and be more satisfied with their purchase

THERE’S a new breed of post-pandemic shopper, demanding help from experts and rejecting faceless robot retailers, says new look Currys (previously Currys PC World), as it relaunches its UK stores and online services. A new trend labelled “Robot Rejection”, shows these shoppers are demanding face-to-face human interaction and expertise alongside digital experiences when buying everyday technology – which is often expensive, unfamiliar and difficult to select.

As it enters a new omnichannel chapter in its 137-year history, Currys, the UK’s biggest retailer of tech, has been at the forefront of this emerging trend. The retailer has evolved its hybrid retail format of online and in-store experience, creating more opportunities for today’s buyer of technology to access Human Intelligence online. In Summer 2020, the retailer launched its pioneering 24/7 online ShopLive platform, ensuring shoppers could still obtain in-person advice from one of their expert colleagues from a laptop tablet or phone, without visiting a store. The service has proved to be popular with over 3m customers engaging with it to date.

Currys states that in 2021, 58% of people shopping for expensive and unfamiliar tech products would like to speak to a real-life human expert before they buy, whether that be instore or online. In fact, 57% of shoppers that get human help are more satisfied with their purchase than those who don’t, and they state that interactions with humans lead to them making the right choice first time, meaning it’s a quicker and more cost-effective way to buy. Computing tech is the category with the highest need of expertise, where 60% of people said they wouldn’t make a purchase without expert advice. Research also shows that return rates are higher when consumers don’t speak to an expert beforehand, with 64% of people saying they’d be happy with the right product and less likely to return their purchase if they got the advice with real human expert help.

With over 3 million online shoppers demonstrating the need for Human intelligence via its ShopLive service, Currys has been able to pinpoint the tech categories where online tech shoppers most look for real-life human expertise, with those coming out top including laptops, washing machines and TVs. The most popular time to get that expertise is between 5pm – 7pm on weekdays and 3pm on a Saturday. Following this starting success, Currys predicts it will have around 150,000 online ShopLive conversations during Black Friday week, this November.  The retailer is also set to build on this success with a new Currys website that will enable better content, more personalisation and a slicker, quicker experience.

The retailer believes stores will remain important for customers too. Internal data from the business also shows that 61% of shoppers believe it is important to see a product in real-life before buying, where consumers can have conversations with experts in a unique environment where they can see, touch and play with the tech they are thinking about buying. Currys is also making improvements within its bricks and mortar locations, introducing content that shows how products work on interactive customer-facing digital screens. In addition, the retailer is making it possible for people to get hands-on with the latest tech before they buy, powering ever more of the products on show, including laptops, TVs, gaming consoles, vacuums and much more.

Currys is investing nearly £25m in extra advanced training for its 13,500 colleagues which involves undertaking an additional 16 hours of further training. This new programme will teach colleagues about the intricacies within technologies; how they work, what the benefits are, and how to demonstrate them in store. In addition, they will be taught how to have a great conversation, asking the right questions to identify the shoppers’ unique requirements and best match them to the right tech for them. So far, in total colleagues have completed an additional 121,674 hours of expert coaching – significantly more training than any other tech retailer – with more to come.

Ed Connolly, Chief Commercial Officer at Currys told Herald.Wales: “Technology is such an intrinsic part of our lives now. More than ever before, prior to handing over their hard-earned cash, people want advice about the tech they buy from a real-life human expert, particularly when it comes to expensive and more complex kit.

“The new Currys brand has evolved to match this changing consumer need, delivering helpful, expert in person advice when and where shoppers need it most. We have invested heavily in our website and in ensuring that our frontline colleagues are not only the absolute experts on the tech we sell but that they also know how to get to the heart of what customers need and want. Every colleague is trained to listen first, inspire and then find the right product for the shopper and educate them on how to use it, in a way an algorithm simply cannot.

“We know not every purchase requires guidance from an expert. Sometimes shoppers already know what they want, or they just need something small and simple, which our websites and stores are well equipped for. However, when it comes to more complex products, speaking to someone in-the-know, whether that is online or instore, is what today’s new trend in ‘Robot Rejection’ is all about. Expert advice shortcuts the lengthy buying process, cuts out confusion and ultimately arms shoppers with the tech they need. Whether it’s understanding the difference between resolution and HD Ready when finding the perfect TV amongst the OLED or QLED acronyms, or simply wanting help deciding on a washer dryer combo, our experts are on hand to answer any questions.”

Martin Raymond, Co-Founder & Editor in Chief of Future Lab says: “‘As our research suggests, more and more people are looking for human-in-the-loop experts, advice, and face to face moments with brands as screen and AI fatigue sets in post-COVID. We also trust people and experts to give us the right kind of advice, at a time when we’re increasingly understanding that as many as three quarters of self-styled  influencers we are meant to follow on TikTok and Instagram hide their ad disclosures, while many of those ‘peer’ reviews we read on Amazon etc, are really paid-for reviews, so more and more, we want named experts we can independently validate, and to speak with brands that have a history and a reputation in the marketplace.”

To mark the rebrand and opening of new look Currys stores, the company has launched its biggest ever brand campaign calling out fake reviews, bot farms and lazy algorithms. A new TV ad shows how life is better when you listen to experts, especially when it comes to tech, and heroes the role of Currys’ expert colleagues.

Currys is a new brand formed from Currys PC World, Carphone Warehouse, Team Knowhow and Dixons Carphone with a bold new look and is committed to making it even easier for everyone to enjoy amazing technology. Becoming one brand means customers can turn to Currys for all their tech needs, interacting with Currys colleagues in stores, online, over the phone and on the doorstep.

Business

Pembrokeshire camping sites named among the best in UK

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BRITISH camping has boomed in the last two years, with 4.5m Brits going camping or caravanning for the first time since the start of the pandemic, according to Mintel. And new research has now revealed 10 of the best secret camping destinations Britain has to offer, with Abereiddy and Havefordwest in Pembrokeshire amongst the top locations.

To uncover the country’s hidden gems, tyre and vehicle services provider, ATS Euromaster, researched the top camping destinations social media doesn’t know about, by revealing the number of positive reviews on online camping sites with fewer than five Instagram tags.

These stunning sites won’t break the bank either, with prices starting at only £8 a night for two adults.

The highest reviewed UK locations that have flown under the social media radar are: 

 1. Wareham, Dorset

1. Trigon Farm

Wareham is a pretty riverside town, close to the South coast in Dorset, 8 miles from Poole. The thriving market town is situated where the rivers Frome and Piddle meet and offers lots to do.

Hidden gem: Trigon Farm is set in a rural field near Wareham, with views of Trigon Manor house and arable fields to the left and beyond. This is a great site for families, with great facilities. It’s also dog friendly.

Prices from: £17 per night, for a tent or trailer pitch.

2. Dorchester, Dorset

2. Dewflock Farm

A historic market town on the banks of the River Frome to the south of the Dorset Downs, Dorchester is a vibrant place ideal for sightseeing. Some of the UK’s best-preserved Roman ruins are situated moments away from the thriving high street.

Hidden gem: Dewflock Farm is a working farm where people can camp and glamp, just 5 minutes from Dorchester. It’s a great base for people to explore Dorset, including the lovely beaches nearby.

Prices from: £100 per night in a Shepherd’s Hut.

3. Winnats Pass, Peak District, Derbyshire

3. Newfold Farm

An impressive limestone gorge in the White Peak area of the Peak District, Winnats Pass is a perfect spot for camping. The limestone is full of fossils of sea creatures which lived here over 350 million years ago.

Hidden gem: Newfold Farm is a family-run campsite at the start of the Pennine Way. It’s great for hikers and cyclists. It’s also half a mile from a pub and railway station.

Prices from: £20 per night, tent pitch.

4. Truro, Cornwall

4. Callestick Camping

The only city in Cornwall, Truro is a foodie destination surrounded by beautiful gardens and rivers. The cathedral city offers a perfect blend of historic charm and modern retailers, while tranquil camping among pristine nature is never far away.

Hidden gem: Callestick Camping is a dog-friendly wild camping field with spectacular views over the Cornish countryside, and only 10 minutes’ drive from the beach.

Prices from: £17.50 per night, tent or trailer pitch

5. Abereiddy, Pembrokeshire

5. Eco Caerhys Wales

Abereiddy, a small hamlet in Wales, is a perfect place to get away from it all and immerse yourself in the beauty of the Pembrokeshire coast.

Hidden gem: Eco Caerhys Camping in St Davids offers wild meadow camping at an organic farm on the Pembrokshire coastline. It’s a great place for active people, with surfing nearby.

Prices from: £30 per night, tent pitch

6. Dodd, Cumbria

6. Dodd Newlands

A fantastic place to get stunning views of Cumbria’s lovely Lake District, Dodd is just a few miles north of Keswick.

Hidden gem: Newlands Valley Campsite is close to Keswick and Derwentwater. It’s a great place for outdoorsy people, with mountain biking, boating and quad biking offered nearby.

Prices from: £23 per night, tent pitch.

7. St Austell, Cornwall

7. East Crinnis Cornwall

A striking curve of spectacular coastal scenery and an area rich in cultural heritage, St Austell is one of Cornwall’s biggest towns, boasting many gorgeous beaches.

Hidden gem: East Crinnis Camping in Heronbank is a working farm and wildlife haven half a mile from the Cornish coast with easy access to destinations like Fowey, Mevagissey and the Eden Project.

Prices from: £16 per night, tent pitch

8. Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire

8. Harefordwest three fields

Haverfordwest is the attractive and ancient county town of Pembrokeshire, steeped in history with a castle and museum, which used to be the prison governor’s house.

Hidden gem: The Three Fields Campsite is a spacious site with a private toilet, shower and firepit at each pitch, situated just 10 minutes from Haverfordwest.

Prices from: £26 per night, touring pitch

9. Skegness, Lincolnshire

9. Skegness Birchwood

Skegness is a seaside town in the East Lindsey District of Lincolnshire, offering lots of family-friendly attractions.

Hidden gem: In a countryside setting but only two miles from Skegness, Birchwood Fishing and Camping offers fishing on a large lake in the lovely Lincolnshire countryside.

Prices from: £8 per night, tent pitch

10. Chester, Cheshire

10. Kings Acre Chester

Arguably the richest city in Britain for archaeological and architectural treasures, Chester boasts the most complete city walls, the oldest racecourse and the largest Roman Amphitheatre in the UK.

Hidden gem: Kings Acre Glamping is deep in the Cheshire countryside, yet only 10 minutes’ drive from Chester. Barbecues are allowed, with firepits and professional pizza ovens available to hire.

Prices from: £25 per night, tent pitch

And for those looking to get away on a camping trip, experts at ATS Euromaster have compiled a list of five things to do to your car before setting off on a camping holiday:

  1. Check your tyre pressure and tread depth – make sure it is at the recommended depth. The legal limit is at least 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the tyre.
  2. Make sure you have a spare tyre and that you know how to change it. You don’t want to get stuck in the middle of the English countryside with no phone signal and a flat tyre.
  3. Check your engine oil and vehicle coolant levels and fill up if needs be.
  4. Ensure that your battery is not going to run flat while you are on your trip. If your engine seems slow to turn over or your lights are flashing, it may be running low.
  5. Check your windscreen for cracks and ensure that wiper blades are functioning properly.
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Hotel and restaurant chain announce purchase of ‘Cornstore’ in Pembroke

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WELSH company, Seren, are pleased to announce the acquisition of the ‘Cornstore’ in Pembroke.

Cornstore is in an incredible location on the quayside, with an inspiring view of the historic Pembroke Castle.

The Cornstore will house “Routescape,” Seren’s bespoke luxury travel agency. Seren also intends to grow their café venture by opening a second café at the Cornstore.

Routescape was founded in 2019 and the devoted team of travel advisors provide outstanding experiences across Great Britain, Ireland and France for guests from all around the world.

They offer an unrivalled service, giving an authentic luxury experience with a genuine feeling of place.

Moving to the Cornstore is a significant step in the growth of this fascinating young firm, providing it with a setting as inspiring as the tours it offers.

The Seren team has also been looking for its next café venture for some time and is delighted that their search has led them to the beautiful Pembrokeshire.

The Routescape team will move into their new space in August, while the Cornstore Café will undergo a renovation later in the year.

Managing Director, Neil Kedward, said: “We have been looking for a second café location for some time and the Cornstore is in an outstanding location right on the quayside in the truly historic Welsh town of Pembroke, overlooking its iconic castle.

“We hope that adding a second venue will help enable improved quality levels we are achieving in our wider café business.

“The early success of our Routescape Travel Agency and the expanding team will also be located at the Cornstore.

“Our business is growing quickly, and this location could not be a better fit for our team of Wales specialists.”

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Senior council staff advised on new regional transport plan

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WORK on a transport plan which could lead to new railway stations in South West Wales, better connected buses and an integrated ticketing system will gather momentum this autumn.

That is when new guidance on regional transport planning will come from the Welsh Government, a meeting of council chiefs was told.

Leaders were given an update on the planned Swansea Bay and West Wales Metro, which aims to lead to more frequent train services, new stations potentially, and better bus provision in and around main areas such as Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire

Longer-term, the metro could result in rail services extending from Neath up to Onllwyn and Cwmgwrach, and from Ammanford to Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen. It is still very early days for the metro project.

A council officer told a meeting of the South West Wales corporate joint committee that electric buses were due to replace diesel ones on the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth route next year, with trials of hydrogen ones plying proposed on some routes in Swansea, Neath Port Talbot and Pembrokeshire.

“A lot of investment and legislative is needed for bus development,” said the officer, adding that real-time information and integrated ticketing for passengers were very important.

Members heard that a UK Government-funded railway station at St Clears in Carmarthenshire, would be the first new station to be built in the region, and that government funding would be critical for the development of the metro concept. The committee will write to ministers on this latter point.

Carmarthenshire Council’s cabinet member for resources, Cllr Alun Lenny, said a priority for his county was faster rail services from Cardiff to Carmarthen and further west.

A Pembrokeshire Council officer said: “For Pembrokeshire, that connectivity is vital.”

Deputy leader of Pembrokeshire Council, Cllr Paul Miller, said regional leaders may need to have “a bit of an arm wrestle in terms of priorities”.

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