… instead of acting dumbfounded by customers’ defecting to online sites, retailers have finally put in place technology that links their online stores with their physical stores. They’re also trying to make their stores more fun.
I had a few occasions chatting with the IT people of the company in the past few years. They were reluctant to adapt to the on-line trend of the retail market. One year, they wanted to expand their on-line catalog business; the next year, they closed the on-line catalog business and moves the majority of their IT people overseas in the following years. This time, it appears that the new SVP, Mike Amend, hired from Home Depot, is ready to face the on-line retail business challenges.
This article highlights a lot of positive actions for the company to transition itself from a traditional retail business to an on-line one.
- Recognizing its market strength: Research from comScore tells Penney that its customers have household incomes of $60,000 to $90,000, and they tend to be hardworking, two-income families living both in rural and urban settings. They don’t have the discretionary income to commit to membership fees.
- Last month, Penney added the ability to ship from all its stores, which immediately made about $1 billion of store inventory available to online customers and cut the distance between customer and delivery.
- About 80 percent of a store’s existing inventory is eligible for free same-day pickup.
Last week, it offered free shipping to stores with no minimum purchase. Large items like refrigerators and trampolines are excluded.
- JCPenney.com now stocks four times the assortment found in its largest store by partnering with other brands and manufacturers.
- More than 50 percent of its online assortment is drop-shipped by suppliers and doesn’t go through Penney’s distribution. Categories added range from bathroom and kitchen hardware to sporting goods, pets and toys
- JCPenney.com now has one Web experience regardless of the screen: phone, tablet or desktop.
- Its new mobile app and wallet include Penney’s new upgraded Rewards program. Customers can book salon appointments on it. The in-store mode has a price-check scanner.
- Penney set out to “democratize access to the data,” so that not only the technical staff could understand it, now dashboards and heat maps allow the artful side of the business — the merchants — to measure such things as sales to in-stock levels or pricing to customer behavior.
Retailers are being asked to adopt new technology daily.
But new technology can’t be adopted just because “it’s cool,” it has to solve a problem, said Michelle Bogan, partner at Kurt Salmon.
… told the audience of more than 200 retailers not to commit all their company’s technology budget at the beginning of a year. Things are changing too fast.
GameStop used to commit 80 percent of its budget early in the process, he said, now it’s trying to reverse that spending pattern with only 20 percent or 30 percent committed at the start of a year.