Will an Apple Watch app make J.C. Penney hip?
The question of what J.C. Penney has to do to make itself relevant again has become a perennial question, one that has found the company making numerous moves in recent years to try to court a younger customer base. The chain’s latest attempt involves becoming one of the first retailers to partner with Apple to create an Apple Watch shopping app.
The Washington Post reports that the app is starting out with an intentionally limited list of features (so as to see how customers use the app and adapt it accordingly). The app will give users the in-store location of items they’ve saved to their online baskets. When items are out of stock, users will be shown where they can be found at the four nearest alternate Penney locations. It will also allow customers to check the status of online orders and provide lists of suggested items to buy.
Half of Penney’s 86 million customers are iPhone users, according to the Post. The retailer is banking on many of those buying the Apple Watch.
Source: Apple iTunes store
Some may find cause for concern with Penney going so far off-brand with this partnership. The retailer’s business is widely perceived as being driven by discounts. Pouring resources into an Apple Watch app is investing in a piece of technology that is anything but discount. Some also question its wisdom given the notoriously poor track record of Penney in forging a new, cooler image.
"I think this is a poor fit, honestly. I can see where they may receive some image benefits. … But as far as it leading to a lot of new sales? I don’t see it happening with the Apple Watch app," Elten Briggs, a marketing professor at UT Arlington, told WFAA.
Mike Rodgers, J.C. Penney’s executive vice president for omnichannel, is aware that being an early Apple Watch adopter is a gamble.
"We have to move fast, and this is a risky proposition. No one’s ever done this before," Mr. Rodgers told the Post.
- JCPenney lands partnership with Apple for watch app – WFAA.com
- An example of how shopping could work on the Apple Watch – The Washington Post
- J.C. Penney and the terrible costs of hiring an outsider CEO – Fortune
- J.C. Penney brings back catalog strategy to drive online sales – RetailWire
Does the partnership between Apple and J.C. Penney have the potential to attract a new shopper base and drive incremental sales for the retailer? What are the potential pitfalls of this attempt at brand revitalization?