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JCPenney apps push mobile coupons in build-up to holiday season

Department store chain JCPenney has continued to rollout applications that support mobile coupons as it gears up for its holiday season sales push.

The retail giant has rolled out several applications under its Weekly Deals banner, including one for Android and another for iPad, to push mobile coupons and discount information. Promoting special offers via several mobile platforms is critical to capturing consumer attention leading into the holiday sales push.

“I think it’s become quite clear that mobile consumers are adopting a variety of devices, whether smartphones or tablets,” said Neil Strother, Kirkland, WA-based mobile practice director at ABI Research. “Smart marketers like JCPenney want to be on those screens, engaging with customers as intense an intense shopping season comes upon us.

“It makes sense for a company like JCPenney and others in that retail space to try to connect with consumers on those devices, since a growing number or searching for deals and opportunities to save some money,” he said. “Plus, it puts them in that position where it gives them a chance to experiment.”

JCPenney first rolled out its Weekly Deals application for the iPhone last year.

JCPenney was not available for comment by press time.

Weekly Deals apps
As the holiday season approaches, smart marketers will be focusing mobile campaigns around push notifications, commerce and  coupons, according to Bruce Hershey, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Adz2Mobile, Naples, FL (see story).

The JCPenney Weekly Deals applications all include a major features that stress those focus areas.

For example, This Week’s Special Offers includes mobile coupons for items on sale at JCPenney.

Application users can present the coupons at the register to receive discounts on purchases made at any of the retailer’s locations.

Here is a screen grab of a coupon from the JCPenney Weekly Deals iPad application:

Another section, This Week’s Ad, includes views of products currently on sale at JCPenney, across categories such as women’s apparel, men’s apparel, shoes and jewelry.

Users can click through a category list on the left side of the screen to browse photos of different items and pricing information.

Potential customers can also add items to their favorite’s list.

Finally, application users can click on the Stay Connected tab to opt-in to receive mobile alerts from JCPenney such as coupons, downloads and advertisements

The Android version of the application includes a navigation bar at the bottom to switch between a Shop section where the weekly ads and offers are located, as well as a store locator and a Favorites section where items that users have tagged can be found.

In the iPad version, those same navigation bar tabs serve as the homepage.

The iPad application also features a large display on the right half of the screen where users can get larger views of products they click on as they browse the application.

Mobile experience
JCPenney is no stranger to mobile.

In addition to its applications, the retailer has aggressively promoted its seasonal sales, including back to school, using tactics such as mobile coupons, mobile optimized Web sites and advertising via iAd (see story).

The company also effectively used mobile Web sites and 2D bar code initiatives to drive sales last holiday season (see story).

Mr. Strother said these applications are consistent with JCPenney’s other mobile efforts and a savvy way of driving foot traffic.

“JCPenney is digitizing and mobilizing the traditional weekly circular,” Mr. Strother said. “To me, it makes a lot of sense.

“They’re a retail brand with bricks-and-mortar locations trying to drive foot traffic,” he said. “If some of the eye balls are on mobile and want to opt-in, and don’t have to go to TV or online, it’s a good idea.

“These are new forms of digital action and engagement, and JC Penney is following in the tradition it started a couple of years ago with back-to-school mobile experimentation.”

Final Take
Peter Finocchiaro, editorial assistant at Mobile Commerce Daily, New York