JCPenney Makes a Commitment to Omnichannel

With sales of $1.08 billion for fiscal year 2013, an increase of 5.8%, it appears JCPenney has its ecommerce channel back on track.

And on its Feb. 26 earning call, JCPenney chairman and CEO Mile Ullman said the retailer is ready to make ecommerce a part of an overall omnichannel sales strategy.

Ullman officially introduced former Saks Fifth Avenue CIO Mike Rodgers as JCPenneys’ senior vice president of omnichannel strategy and execution. Ullman said Rogers will be in charge of integrating digital capabilities and marketing between stores in jcp.com – from marketing to browsing to check-out – to be seamless across channels.

“I believe the future of retail is omnichannel, and we are committed to leading our sector in omnichannel functionality,” Ullman said. “As a pioneer in online retail, we believe JCPenney can and will help lead the way in the development of true omnichannel experience.”

Ullman also discussed how JCPenney stopped jcp.com, which suffered a 33% decrease in sales last fiscal year, from bleeding. Those steps included improving merchandise assortments, restoring inventory levels and enhancing the online experience.

JCPenney also built a marketing strategy for the back half of 2013 that focused on traffic and driving promotions, in-store visuals to support the marketing events and delivered a “successful” holiday season marketing strategy, Ullman said.

Online sales through jcp.com continued to show improvement this quarter, contributing $381 million in sales, an increase of 26.3% from the same period last year.

“We realigned merchandising and marketing teams for .com to support our omnichannel approach to the business,” Ullman said. “We still have more work to do but we are pleased with how quickly the business came around with just these few strategic adjustments.”

JCPenney ecommerce sales also benefitted from Mother Nature. As consumers stayed at home due to foul weather conditions and the polar vortex, jcp.com sales grew almost 45% year-over-year in January.

“We think the customer is traumatized to a degree of all the bad weather and probably was particularly excited by shopping even online during parts of the bad weather,” Ullman said. “But we are encouraged by our online business, and continue to invest in it.”

For the full year 2013, JCPenney total sales decreased 8.7 % for the year.

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