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A wave of new technologies that can leave customers flummoxed has prompted PC World to add a human touch to its ecommerce system.

The Dixons-owned superstore chain has launched a Collect@Store service, meaning customers will be able to browse and reserve products online before going to a physical store and completing their purchase.

Neil Old, PC World marketing director, said: “Really, it’s a reservation service.”

Old said recent research by PC World had highlighted the way customers balance their use of its website and its stores. A third of customers like browsing products online, but like a little touchy-feely before making a purchase, while 12 per cent want face-to-face help and advice. Another 17 per cent simply don’t want to wait for delivery.

In recent years, websites have focused on shifting boxes, said Old, but the onset of new technologies such as wireless networking and media centre PCs had prompted some customers to demand more face to face contact.

“The last 12 months have seen a surge forwards in emerging technologies,” he said.

Reserved products will be picked up at the chain’s instore advice and service centers, meaning customers will be able to get more technical guidance before they complete their purchase.

At the same, PC World’s small business customers will be able to check availability of products online before picking them up, rather than waiting days for traditional delivery or taking a chance on a crucial item being in stock when they get to a store.

So far, PC World is the only part of the Dixons group to try the online reservations system, though Olds said the rest of the organisation will be watching closely to see how the service goes down with customers.®

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