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JCPenney spins millennial-friendly major appliance sales with in-app purchasing

JCPenney has started offering in-application purchases for major appliances in select markets, taking the chain’s efforts to lure back customers by reintroducing a long-absent product category to mobile for the first time.

The department store chain started offering major appliances again earlier this year in a few markets following a 33-year absence. As JCPenney attempts a comeback following an ill-fated transition away from big sales events, a move that ended up alienating a lot of customers, connecting to millennial customers via mobile is going to be essential.

“Millennial audiences engage with brands primarily through mobile devices and are much more apt to purchase big-ticket items through mobile applications,” said Scott Forshay, senior mobility strategist for mobile product strategy and innovation at IBM. “That said, it’s vital for the brand to understand how their intended audiences will utilize the device at the bottom of the funnel.

“Combating showrooming is imperative, so positioning competitively from a pricing perspective and accentuating differentiated service offerings like free delivery and installation is an essential strategy to lure millennial audiences,” he said.

Appealing to millennials
On April 28, JCPenney updated its iPhone app to offer online purchasing of major appliances to customers in San Antonio, San Diego, Tampa and Washington.

The appliances are also being sold online at

The return of appliances is one of several product launches geared toward attracting millennials consumers, including those who may be starting a family and/or buying a home.

JCPenney believes there is an opportunity to drive sales via major appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines. Sears is currently the top retailer of home appliances but has seen its sales declining for years.

JCPenney will is also going up against, Home Depot and Lowe’s in this category. All are leading mobile retailers, putting the pressure on JCPenney to step up on the technology front, where it has been lagging.

The ideal platform
JCPenney clearly recognizes the importance of mobile and has been bolstering its app to provide a leading experience.

The app offers many of the latest features and functionalities. For example, users can sign up for rewards, search for coupons and apply them to online and in-store purchases, scan product bar codes to find in-store inventory and place an order as well as receive relevant in-store offers via beacons.

JCPenney’s app is likely to play a key role for the retailer as it looks to regain a foothold in the major appliances category.

“From a consideration perspective, the mobile app can be extremely influential as a research mechanism, allowing shoppers to consult product reviews both in-store and off-premise,” Mr. Forshay said.

“Its influence on purchase, especially in regards to the brand’s promotional mobile marketing efforts through in-app push notifications, can potentially provide the attribution data necessary to understand the efficacy of its programs.

“Lastly, from a post-purchase perspective, the app is an ideal platform for positioning high-margin products like extended warranties and, leveraging the contextual information tracked by the device like location, the brand can offer utility in any repair services it may potentially choose to offer.”