Shopping and Eating in Downtown Cardiff

The capital city of Cardiff is a tremendously exciting city, and certainly the largest settlement in the nation of Wales, United Kingdom. Despite beginning its wonderful growth as an industrial town, the city has really blossomed over the past few decades to become one of the United Kingdom’s most forward thinking cities.

The best time to visit the city centre of Cardiff is between spring and autumn, as this is when the weather conditions are most favourable for sightseeing and tourist activities. Getting into Cardiff can be done by road, rail or air, when coming from London. However, the Cardiff International Airport also boasts flights from Paris, Amsterdam, Madrid and other United Kingdom metropolitan centres.

Although the city is home to many wonderful attractions and activities, its shopping and eating cultures are also finding themselves constantly busy. For more information regarding these features of the city, read on below.

Shopping

The city of Cardiff is unbelievable for shopping. Over the past decade, the Welsh capital’s shopping culture has begun to blossom, and now stands as one of the best spots for a shopping holiday in the United Kingdom.

The most alluring places in the centre of the city to go shopping are found within the Castle Quarter, just a short distance from the stunning Cardiff Castle. Within this quarter, tourists will be able to find Queen Street, the Hayes, and the appealing St. Mary’s Street. These are the most popular pedestrian street malls in Wales. In addition to the street malls, there are a collection of Victorian Arcades that are not only beautiful, but also filled with amazingly popular shopping stores.

Central Market is the best place to visit for bargains! Of course, there are other markers found around the city, but the Central Market is the most important market district in the city. Pets are available in the market, along with a plethora of other products, including jewelry, arts, and handicrafts.

St David’s Shopping Centre is a new shopping complex found in the city centre of Cardiff. Upon completion in 2010, it stands as one of the largest shopping malls in the UK, and was even voted to be one of the best shopping malls internationally just a year ago.

Eating

Cardiff, in particular the city centre, is a great place to enjoy a dining experience like no other in the United Kingdom. It is filled with an amazing array of restaurants that boast spectacular dishes and international flavours from all over the world. The inner-city streets of Cardiff are definitely the busiest parts of the city when it comes to dining. This is why visitors must make reservations prior to dining in the city centre, especially on the weekend.

Indian food is extremely renowned in Cardiff, along with Italian, French, Indonesian, Thai, and East Asian cuisine. Tourists won’t have to go far to find a remarkable restaurant, as there are dozens located throughout most of the downtown area.

The Cardiff City Centre hotels are quite desirable when it comes to dining. There are some of the best hotel chains serving the city of Cardiff, and these hotels provide some magnificent establishments for dining. The hotels are not recommended for budget travelers, as the restaurants tend to be on the more expensive side of things.

Cafes are also great places for dining too. The downtown streets offer a variety of café options, which make it possible for tourists to just sit back and rejuvenate with a coffee or meal. Lunch is a very popular time for the cafes, but because there are a large number in the city centre, tourists can always find a café to enjoy.

3 Reasons Why a Portable Photo Printer Makes a Great Holiday Gift

Here is an item that is making it’s way on to many people’s wish lists this Holiday season. The portable photo printer can be a great gift to give and to receive. Here are three reasons to consider giving this item as a gift this year…

1) It’s Affordable

You can find a portable photo printer for anywhere from $50 to $150, making it the perfect price range for a nice gift. This year, there are great deals to be found online and in stores on popular printers. Shopping holiday sales and looking for free shipping offers and coupons online can save you even more.

2) It’s Practical

These devices are very handy to have, especially on trips and Holidays. Sharing pictures can be done instantly and on the go, no matter where you are. This is a gift that would be appropriate for almost any age group on your list. They are ideal for family vacations, parents of small children, young adults, and even seniors because everyone likes to have instant access to their pictures. Today’s models are easy to use, plug-and-play out of the box so they are as simple to operate as a digital camera it’s self.

3) It’s Fun

This is a gift that can become part of the holiday it’s self. Make this year one to remember by giving a photo printer that can be used right then and there. Remember to include plenty of accessories like ink and paper and you will the tool that can create an instant memento to treasure and share.

As you can see, there are many reasons why a portable photo printer makes an ideal gift for many of the people on your list. Especially around the holidays, they serve many uses as well. By shopping savvy this holiday season, you can score a great deal on a nice unit and give a gift that will get plenty of use and appreciation.

The Rise of Social Shopping and User Reviews

Why I think customer reviews and social shopping are important. Social shopping is an interesting concept which divides opinion amongst web commentators.

Most are agreed that social shopping is a specific type of web service with its roots in the social explosion of Web 2.0.

In their purest form the best social shopping sites provide an open independent platform where users can add products, post a review or provide a product rating. The sites are service orientated, providing the tools for others to use and as such rely heavily on user generated content to set the agenda.

In essence the opportunity now exists for consumers to band together, discuss specific products and brands and provide an authentic alternative voice to the brand led marketing activity and conventional expert reviews we are all subjected to in other media.

By sharing product knowledge and experiences, creating useful content, an empowered community consensus can emerge, highlighting the gems and warning against the over hyped duds – the products which disappoint and fail to deliver.

This type of user generated content has a real value and satisfies an important element of the online shopping process – research, which accounts for 80% of consumer time when they are shopping online.

Social shopping sites combine social elements such as a social networking community features with aspects of shopping such as product reviews, ratings and deal hunting.

Some of the more agile social shopping sites are making use of the Twitter API and Facebook Connect to tap in to the online conversation, providing context for product related Tweets on Twitter and distribution of product opinion via Facebook.

Social shopping sites can be viewed as a value added evolution of the affiliate model – as they seek to monetize website content (the user generated product reviews and ratings) by sending traffic to third party merchant sites where they can purchase product.

My starting position is to agree with the mantra that “customer recommendation is the Holy Grail of Advertising”. We know this is true in the real world – if your friends and neighbours enthuse about their new car, lawnmower, laptop or digital camera – it will have weight, you take note.

The same holds online – reviews and recommendations are very powerful; especially those from people with status in a community, and those which are provided weeks and months after the purchase; only the scale and dynamics of relationships differ. The potential then of social shopping and what it offers us as consumers, product designers, specialist retailers and brands which really focus on and respond to their community is very exciting.

Some statistics and predictions from rantorave.

According to a global Nielsen survey of 26,486 Internet users in 47 markets, consumer recommendations are the most credible form of advertising among 78% of the study’s respondents. (Nielsen, “Word-of-Mouth the Most Powerful Selling Tool”).

83% of shoppers said online product evaluations and reviews influenced their purchasing decisions. (Opinion Research Corporation, an infoGROUP company, July 2008).

76% of US retailers said user-generated content would have a greater impact on their marketing goals in the near future. (SLI Systems/Zoomerang, November 2008).

56% of UK website owners say that user-generated content lifts conversion levels; 77% say it increases traffic; and 42% say it increases the average spend on site.(eConsultancy survey of 360 website owners across all sectors, November 2008).

By 2020, 84% of marketers agree that building customer trust will become marketing’s primary objective, and 82% agree that collaboration with customers will prevail over marketing. (1to1 Media survey April, 2008).

Top 10 Social shopping sites: (note I am only allowed to submit an article with 4 links)

  1. Kaboodle –  a great site, arguably market leader geared towards female consumers. Now owned by Hearst Digital Media.
  2. ThisNext – another strong site with an emphasis on female consumers, this site feels like a great window shopping experience with expert Maverns on tap
  3. Tribesmart –  this site is making use of twitter and Facebook connect. There are some great tools such as the personal list builder and community messaging features based on the ‘Tribes’ idea. Like Veedow, Wists and Crowdstorm it could appeal to both sexes and this is potentially where the gap in the market is as Kaboodle, OSOYOU and ThisNext seem to have marked out a claim on the younger female market.
  4. Veedow – a slightly confusing site, a neat idea, still yet to realize it’s full potential in my view
  5. Stylehive – feeling less like a pure play social shopping site these days, it has a strong emphasis on wannabe celebrity fashion/lifestyle writers who you follow – it is not as vibrant as twitter although you can see where they are going with it
  6. Jungle Raft – a new entrant, included as it is a new concept with a clear proposition in terms of pulling the best deals from Amazon
  7. Stylefeeder – offers to help users discover products based on their unique tastes. The looks a little off the pace and has some annoying and tacky pop up ads. All a bit old skool.
  8. Crowdstorm – the site is a Digg type site for products, it is based on buzz and an expert opinion network- although it does seem to have gone quiet in the last 12 months
  9. Shopstyle – feels like an ecommerce site with price discounts on display. Lacks obvious reviews or community features although the stylebooks feature is really nice enabling people to put looks together and share these – the ‘sale alert’ feature could be useful though and the site has hooked up with Elle magazine in the past.
  10. Wists – a trending site about what is new and what people plan on buying

There are many others, sites like Shopcorn and Naturalbornshoppers to name but two.