Rival department stores John Lewis and Marks & Spencer have already begun rolling out wireless internet access across their stores in the hope customers will use their smartphones and tablet computers to access offers and order out of stock items.
Debenhams is rolling out the service following a trial in three stores, and the launch of a mobile app which saw 250,000 barcode scans instore. The retailer says 20% of its online traffic now comes from mobile devices.
Retailers say they are willing to take the risk that customers will compare prices on sites such as eBay and Amazon in order to capitalise on instore selling opportunities.
Connected customers will receive discount vouchers while instore and be encouraged to order clothing items online if they are not available in their size, for example.
Debenhams’ mobile commerce manager Sarah Baillie said last month that retailers cannot possibly try to prevent customers using mobile in store so it is vital they get involved.
Retailers are embracing WiFi following a rallying cry from Google late last year calling on them to improve their in-store mobile experiences to stay viable on the high street.
Meanwhile, technology solutions company QuBit said last year that UK retailers are collectively missing out on as much as £4bn in revenue due to “poor” mobile web strategies.