J.C. Penney goes after Babies ‘R’ Us customers with new shops
If you want to buy baby clothes in J.C. Penney stores, it’s no problem, but to buy a car seat, crib, stroller or a variety of other baby products from the department store retailer, you’ve needed to go online and place your order on jcpenney.com. Soon, however, you will be able to go to one of 500 Penney stores and pick up all the above.
Last week, Penney announced that it is expanding its merchandise selection of baby products in shops within 500 of its stores that are located close to where Babies “R” Us used to operate before going out of business. The retailer operates 860 stores total across the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
“We are seizing this opportunity to pursue available market share and aggressively go after the baby customer with these new shops,” said James Starke, senior vice president and head of merchandising for Penney, in a statement.
The new shops are scheduled to launch later this month to coincide with Penney’s annual “Baby Sale.” The retailer plans to promote its new, expanded baby product selection with a 12-page direct mail piece.
“J.C. Penney appreciates the importance of having a broad assortment of baby products online, but we also know that there are certain items that parents — especially first-time parents — want to see in person. They want to test out the stroller, feel the crib sheets and compare bottle sizes in person,” said Mr. Starke. “Our competition is underestimating the importance of a physical in-store baby shop and that is where J.C. Penney is going to differentiate.”
Penney’s baby shops will be located next to baby apparel and feature updated graphics and signage. Most of the products on display will be stocked for customers to bring home the same day, while in some locations, some larger pieces, such as cribs and mattresses, may have to be shipped to customers’ homes. Items such as dressers, changing tables and gliders will continue to be available through Penney’s website.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you make of James Starke’s assertion that competitors are “underestimating the importance of a physical in-store baby shop”? Does this move make sense relative to recently expressed misgivings from management that Penney’s has taken its eye off its core market, i.e. Boomers? Will having in-store baby shops boost traffic, sales and market share for J.C. Penney?