Pumpkin Patch trials free wi-fi

Pumpkin Patch will roll out free wi-fi to most of its stores in the next year as another technology-embracing move to boost overall sales.

About 11% of the listed children's clothing retailer's Australasian sales are now done online.

And while it closed under-performing stores in the US and Britain this year, it is boosting its online presence with a "click and collect" service, online clearance "esales" and online-only offerings at its Patch General Store.

It has built up a database of two million active customers. 

At the company's annual meeting in Auckland today, chief executive Neil Cowie says the next step is free wi-fi.

"Seventy per cent of smartphone owners use them while in store shopping so free wi-fi is a low-cost way of enhancing the customer experience and creating another reason for customers to come into store, stay longer and therefore buy more."

Mr Cowie told NBR ONLINE Pumpkin Patch delivered about 500 styles to online auction website Amazon's European warehouses in the past fortnight.

Pumpkin Patch has more than 180,000 followers on Facebook, he says, and is promoting its products through social media such as Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest.

The company will give profit guidance at its half-year result in February – after the crucial Christmas season.

"What will happen over Christmas if things get tough people start discounting, then your margins are under a bit of pressure," Mr Cowie says.

Pumpkin Patch shares (NZX: PPL) are unchanged at $1.25 this afternoon, after gaining 95% this year.

dwilliams@nbr.co.nz

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