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JCPenney unwraps holiday-themed WAP site to drive shoppers in-store

November 26, 2009

JCPenney taps mobile to promote its holiday sales

JCPenney taps mobile to promote its holiday sales

Retail giant J. C. Penney Company Inc. has launched a holiday-themed mobile Web site to promote its post-Thanksgiving and post-Christmas sales.

The WAP site at lets customers to browse the company’s gift assortment, find a local store and register for a wake-up call from JCPenney for early risers attending JCPenney’s big Day After Thanksgiving and Day After Christmas sales. Consumers can also choose to opt-in for future mobile alerts from the brand, as well as choose to save and send gift ‘hints’ to friends and family of items they view from the gift assortment.

“Our mobile initiatives tend to attract a younger consumer, but it’s really geared to anyone with a smartphone—moving forward, all mobile phones will eventually become smartphones,” said Kate Coultas, spokeswoman for JCPenney, Plano, TX.

“Our mobile initiatives, as well as our social initiatives, allow us to reach customers can their terms—they are the ones deciding to opt in to engage with the JCPenney brand,” she said.

“[Mobile] also creates an easy and convenient shopping experience by bringing out style, quality and price right to their fingertips.”

JCPenney operates 1,109 department stores throughout the United States and Puerto Rico, one of the largest apparel and home-furnishing sites on the Internet at, as well as the nation’s largest general merchandise catalog business. The company posted revenue of $18.5 billion in 2008.

Hey handsome, it’s Cindy calling
Customers will have the option of choosing a wake-up call on Black Friday from one of JCPenney’s partners, including Cindy Crawford (style expert for JCPenney’s Cindy Crawford Style brand), Kimora Lee Simmons (designer for JCPenney’s Fabulosity brand) or Rascal Flatts band members Gary LeVox, Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney (whose recent “Rascal Flatts American Living Unstoppable Tour” presented by JCPenney promoted the company’s American Living brand).

Customers can sign up for the wake-up calls at or via the mobile Web site at, which is powered by ad agency Ipsh .

Additionally, consumers can download a free JCPenney iPhone application from the iTunes App Store (see story).

The application, which was developed by Yustin and Sevnthsin, lets consumers browse a select group of store-advertised sale items featured in the latest weekend sales circular; create a portable shopping list within the application by saving items as favorites; check for the latest special offers; and find the nearest store to either their current location or to a ZIP code/city name.

“Regarding our iPhone app, there are more than 13 million iPhone users in the U.S., allowing us to share our style, quality and affordable prices each week with a rapidly growing base of consumers,” Ms. Coultas said.

Furthermore, in partnership with Cellfire Inc., JCPenney is helping shoppers ring up savings with a mobile coupon program.

Customers are can download and carry coupons on their mobile phones that can be scanned directly from the phone’s display screen at the register.

New imaging scanners capable of reading these 2D bar code coupons have been deployed at point-of-sale registers in 16 JCPenney stores in the Houston metro area (see story).

Phasing out paper in favor of digital
As part of its effort to continually adapt its marketing strategies to meet evolving customer preferences, JCPenney has taken steps to further reshape the way it engages with customers through an integrated marketing approach that incorporates stores, catalogs, online applications and emerging digital marketing platforms, including social media and mobile.

Increasingly, catalog shopping has converged with online, mobile and in-store shopping as customers view catalogs as “look books” and inspiration sources for their in-store, online and mobile purchases.

In response to this convergence and the ongoing migration of customers to shopping online and via mobile devices, JCPenney will no longer publish its twice-yearly “big book” catalogs and will dedicate those resources to a range of customized, more timely specialty catalogs, continued targeted growth initiatives on and ongoing digital media services.

JCPenney says that the discontinuation of “big book” catalogs aligns with the retailer’s ongoing commitment to promote the sustainability of forests and other natural resources and contributes to its goal of operating in an ethical and socially responsible manner.

The company anticipates a year-over-year reduction of 25 to 30 percent in paper used for catalogs in 2010, continuing a four-year trend of declining paper consumption.

JCPenney claims that is one of the largest general merchandise sites on the Internet, with more than 250,000 merchandise offerings and millions of opt-in e-mail subscribers.

Additionally, JCPenney has developed a range of digital marketing initiatives, such as the iPhone application and presence on social media sites such as Facebook, where JCPenney has so far amassed a following of more than half a million fans.

JCPenney has used mobile advertising to raise awareness and drive adoption of its mobile initiatives.

“I cannot disclose numbers for proprietary reasons, but we have been very pleased with the response to the WAP site, iPhone app and mobile coupons initiatives,” Ms. Coultas said. “They are mentioned on and via mobile advertising.

“Our mobile coupon test has been successful and we are planning to roll it out nationally next year,” she said.

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Dan Butcher is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach him at

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