JCPenney is reintroducing the appliance category to stores after a 30-year absence.
The retailer will test the program in 22 pilot locations in San Antonio, San Diego and Tampa, Florida. Each location will feature 90 to 150 appliance models in a dedicated showroom staffed by trained associates.
There will also be a broad assortment of branded appliances available on jcp.com beginning in April.
The program is the product of customer research that revealed the "vast majority" of JCPenney shoppers own a home and are frequently searching for major appliance options on the retailer's own website. Additional third-party consumer research revealed that the majority of those surveyed thought it made sense for JCPenney to sell major appliances. Respondents saw it as a natural extension of the brand's home business, and indicated that the availability of appliances would entice them to visit JCPenney more often.
"We plan to continually listen to our customers' feedback and learn from our pilot operations over the next few months," said JCPenney CEO Marvin Ellison. "Although our sales results in our Home business are much improved, it still remains one of the least productive areas in the store. The introduction of major appliances will help us continue to significantly improve sales and gross profit per square foot in our home department."
JCPenney's home department underwent some dramatic changes during former CEO Ron Johnson's tenure. Traditional styles made way for more modern designs, house brands were phased out and the JCPenney shopper went elsewhere. Ellison has been tasked with bringing her back, and expanding the customer base to include younger shoppers.
The appliance program is just one of several initiatives in the works at JCPenney.
"Our research shows that the female consumer is the key decision maker in the appliance purchase process. Recognizing that over 70 percent of our shoppers are women, we're going to improve the way customers shop for appliances by building an emotional connection with the female shopper who already trusts JCPenney to furnish her home and wardrobe," said Ellison. "We are excited to design a shopping experience that combines great products, strong presentation and exceptional customer service to compel new and existing customers to shop and spend more at JCPenney."
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