- J.C. Penney brought in a new dedicated chief digital officer Monday to, in the company's words, "lead strategic advancements of the Company's digital platforms and bring the customer experience to life."
- Joining the company in the role is Karl Walsh, who previously served as chief digital officer for Pandora Jewelry. He has also served with consultancies Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey & Company. At Penney, Walsh reports to Chief Customer Officer Shawn Gensch.
- Previously filling the role of chief digital officer was Penney's Chief Information Officer Therace Risch, according to the company's investor website.
Digital is one of the several areas where J.C. Penney needs as much help and focus as it can muster with its limited financial resources.
Noting the increasingly blurred lines between store and digital sales in an omnichannel world, Penney doesn't break out its digital sales in securities filings. But data provided to Retail Dive this fall by Earnest Research show the department store retailer over the past three years has lost about 10% of its online market share to a selection of competitors, including T.J. Maxx and Marshalls of TJX Cos., Kohl's, Burlington and Ross Stores.
In its quarterly reports, Penney says it is working to "return to growth in our digital channel." That would be a good start in a retail market where major players are seeing double digit growth in their digital channels.
Gensch noted in a press release that almost 90% of customers "begin their path to purchase online." He added that Walsh's "background of building and executing digital strategies for global brands will help us improve our eCommerce offering and drive traffic across all channels."
According to the release, Walsh helped grow Pandora's global e-commerce business and increase consumer engagement across channels. That's a priority for J.C. Penney, too, as it tries to build out its omnichannel capabilities and improve the experience at Penney's flagship website, jcp.com.
Walsh is one of more than a dozen new executives that Penney CEO Jill Soltau has brought on this year as she tries to tackle Penney's persistent sales declines, profit losses and hefty debt load.