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Macy’s Mobile Connection Conundrum: Customers Won’t Work Very Hard To Watch Your Commercials

Written by Evan Schuman
March 3rd, 2011

When Macy’s rolled out its mobile Backstage Pass program on February 24, the goal was straightforward. Customers would see QR codes placed throughout the stores, and scanning them with their phones would bring up a promotional video—an effect that could also be realized through a text message request. But it’s forcing the chain to confront the mobile connection conundrum head-on.

The videos—bandwidth hogs that they are—have to be able to quickly be seen on the consumer’s phone. But how? Some Macy’s stores offer customer Wi-Fi access, but not all. With (quite legitimate) mobile security concerns the talk of the Web, getting consumers to log into a store’s wireless network won’t be that easy. Those security fears are atop the fact that many consumers won’t know how to sign into Macy’s Wi-Fi, even if they want to.

Also, of the few consumers who are in a Wi-Fi-friendly store and are comfortable with the perceived security risks of connecting to a retailer’s Wi-Fi and know how to connect and know that connecting to Wi-Fi is even an option, how many will want to take the minute and bother to do so for what are commercials? Granted, they are commercials starring the likes of Bobbi Brown, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Tommy Hilfiger, Michael Kors, Greg Norman, Rachel Roy, Irina Shabayeva and Martha Stewart, but they are commercials nonetheless.

If the Macy’s in question happens to not support Wi-Fi, customers must look at the video using whatever signal they get from their carriers. This, of course, assumes that they can get any signal at all. In many Macy’s—including the chain’s New York flagship store—getting a signal is difficult, especially if it’s deep inside an inside mall.

Assuming the customer gets a connection, the one thing Macy’s will never see is consistency of video performance. Clearly, with different handsets and carriers and bandwidth congestion, some experiences will be a lot more painful than others.

Then there is the issue with reading the QR codes.


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