Racing to M and S in Hackney for a wi-fi hotspot

FREE WI-FI will be offered at four Marks and Spencer stores within easy reach of Hackney people. From May 2013, hotspots are due to operate at Mare Street E8 1JB, at D3 in Westfield Shopping Centre, Stratford E20 1EH, at Leyton E10 6JP and at Islington N1 0RR.

The wireless-networking installations are part of a £250 million hi-tech project under way in Marks stores throughout the UK. Other branches accessible to Hackneyites are in Liverpool Street environs and elsewhere in the City.

Some analysts claim that M and S is spending more than other UK retailers on uprating its technology. It wants to encourage shoppers to use their smartphones to browse the retailer’s catalogue from home and to attract them through its doors. Hence the wi-fi, along with iPad-toting assistants walking the floors.

Chief executive Marc Bolland announced the free wi-fi plan when he unveiled a new store at Ellesmere Port in Cheshire, the second-biggest, after the Marble Arch store.

The free wi-fi should be a boon to Hackneyites. Whether they will cross the Marks threshold will depend on, for example, the fashions and the speed of service and of in-store collection of items. Shoppers decided several years ago that the retailer had to do more than flourish new technology to win them back in the large numbers of late last century.

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