PacSun Unveils Wi-Fi Hot Spots

As part of its comeback strategy, Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. has been making deeper investments into technology, and the latest investment has the Anaheim, Calif.–based retailer exploring Wi-Fi wireless networks.

The resurgent surf and skate–friendly retailer selected more than 11 of its leading California stores to be free Wi-Fi hot spots. PacSun’s Wi-Fi was built by AT&T. Shoppers who are AT&T consumers will have extensive opportunities to use their iPads and other mobile devices in the store. Non-AT&T customers can gain Wi-Fi access on a store “splash” page. Offering a Wi-Fi environment is an example of how PacSun keeps up with consumer demands, said Jose Viera, PacSun’s senior director, IT infrastructure and services.

“The demand for constant wireless connectivity continues to grow. Providing AT&T Wi-Fi in our stores is another example of how we’re improving the shopping experience for our customers,” Viera said in a company statement.

PacSun also distributed 500 iPads among its sales staff at these stores. The iPad comes with a lookbook application specially made for the store. Sales staff can use the app to show customers a myriad of options of colors, silhouettes and styles in the PacSun inventory. AT&T also built a sales staff–only Wi-Fi channel where store managers and sales staff can communicate.

In addition, AT&T built Wi-Fi hot spots for McDonald’s restaurants andStarbucks coffee shops. Wi-Fi and mobile-device options are being explored by fashion retailers. This year Nordstrom Inc. announced a mobile point-of-sales program where sales staff can execute purchases and check on store inventory.

2012 has been a year when PacSun increased its investment in technology. In October, it announced a deal with Demandware Inc. in which the Massachusetts-based technology company would build the store’s platform for omnichannel retail. With this platform, a consumer can make purchases through a variety of devices and methods ranging from smartphone to personal computer, not to mention personal visits to the store.

Boston-based technology consultant Judah Phillips said more retailers are embracing Wi-Fi. “The benefit comes with the risk,” he said. Consumers will use the Wi-Fi to compare prices with other retailers. “If you’re not competitive, the customer will be walking out the door that much quicker.”