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The Other Side of In-Store Wifi

Matthew Yglesias has a short little article about how J.C. Penny is killing wifi in their stores, one of the things Ron Johnson put in place during his very short tenure:

I can think of no better example of how Ron Johnson destroyed J.C. Penney than the company’s slightly ridiculous plan to offer free Wi-Fi in all its stores. That this was a bad idea is not the reason the store’s been struggling. But the fact that Johnson couldn’t see that this simply isn’t something his customers would have any real desire to take advantage of spoke volumes about the strategic errors happening in Penneyland.

I’m not sure this was such a stupid move by Johnson. Speaking to a guy at the American Marketing Association conference in New Orleans last week, he made the point that in many of these giant stores (he used to work at Target), the cell coverage is so bad that wifi is the only way to get coverage and potentially do something interesting with customers’ mobile phones in store. If we assume that mobile research will be an important part of buying in the future then it might turn out they’ll just have to go back and reinstall all that wifi anyway.

September 19, 2013 // This post is about: , , , , ,

Comments

  • Laurent Raufaste says:

    Not sure that the kind of WiFi where you need to sign in is useful for this though. It’s too damn hard to use on a phone. It’s either open WiFi, or extended telco coverage.

  • Steve Poppe says:

    One of the beliefs of Twitch Point Planning is that consumers twitch from one experience to another (typically a richer media experience) to help them make a decision about a product. In retail, this is often accomplished with a smartie. Sluggish WIFI in stores can be a real buzz kill.

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