Kohl's Grabs A Shot Of Starbucks For Marketing Chief

Kohl's (NYSE:KSS) has snagged a longtime Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) executive as its new head of marketing and e-commerce. Michelle Gass will start work in mid-June as chief customer officer for the third-largest U.S. department store chain, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday (May 22).

Gass, who worked at Starbucks for 16 years, is credited with leading development of the coffee chain's loyalty program, its Frappuccino drinks and VIA instant coffee, and the rebranding of the company's Seattle's Best Coffee subsidiary in 2010. Earlier in May she was replaced as head of Starbucks Europe, Middle East and Africa.

The announcement came less than a week after Kohl's reported a lackluster quarter in every area except online, where sales rose more than 30 percent. E-commerce now accounts for for 7.8 percent of the chain's sales, up from 5.9 percent a year ago, and the chain also plans to start shipping online orders from 200 of its stores by the end of this year.

That was during a year when Kohl's might have been expected to benefit from JCPenney's (NYSE:JCP) problems as now-departed CEO Ron Johnson killed sales (in more ways than one). But most of Penney's expatriate customers seem to have gone to Macy's (NYSE:M) instead. Gass' marketing challenge isn't just going to be building Kohl's online momentum, but also bringing customers back into the bricks-and-mortar stores. Omnichannel is critically important, but Kohl's clearly has a handle on that—and it's the 92.2 percent of Kohl's business that's not online that will make or break the chain.

For more:

- See this Bloomberg story

Related stories:

Kohl's Opens Silicon Valley IT Office For Online, In-Store
Starbucks Preparing A Major Shift In How It Sells Food
Are Macy's, Target and Kohl's Ready For A Really Early Black Friday?

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