February 7, 2011, 4:22 PM

J.C. Penney store kiosks get web connected—and smarter

Penney’s stores get greater web access via stylish kiosks and iPads.

Lead Photo

A "findmore" store kiosk

Kiosks are getting a whole lot smarter at J. C. Penney Co. Inc. as the mass merchant continues its quest to integrate the web more thoroughly into its network of 1,100 stores.

In addition to deploying today what the retailer calls the “findmore smart fixture” in over 120 stores, iPads soon will be in use at 50 jewelry counters. Both tools are designed to improve access to the broader product assortments and product information available on JCP.com, the retailer says.

The initiatives are part of J.C. Penney’s e-commerce strategy that encourages customers and store associates to “find more” products and information on the retailer’s 250,000 online offerings through JCP.com, the new kiosks, iPads or web-enabled point-of-sale registers.

“We’ve always seen the value of integrating the online and in-store shopping experience offering customers the opportunity to have access to a greater merchandise selection by offering access to online purchases in the stores,” says Tom Nealon, group executive vice president of J.C. Penney, No. 16 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. “Offering an in-store digital experience that drives additional sales is a true differentiator for J.C. Penney and continues to build on our leadership in the digital space as we merge our online and in-store shopping experiences.”

The new, mostly glass in-store devices go beyond the kiosk concept with a 42-inch touchscreen and department-specific content. Features enable shoppers to:

  • View merchandise available on JCP.com that might be out-of-stock in a store.
  • View product availability in a store or other nearby stores.
  • E-mail images and information about an online item to themselves or a friend.
  • Use 360-degree-views and zoom features to see all details of a product.
  • Scan the bar code of an in-store item to learn more about the product’s features, additional colors and sizes available, and washing instructions. The kiosks also provide product recommendations for complementary items, such as suggesting tops and accessories when a shopper scans a pair of pants.
  • View items and outfits and add them to an online “dressing room.” The customer can print a list of the items, then locate the products in the store and try them on.
  • Purchase online items from the kiosk and have them shipped to their home. Items can also be shipped for free to the local J.C. Penney store. Additionally, customers can print out a receipt and purchase an online item at an in-store register, with the rest of their in-store purchases.

In April 2009, J.C. Penney launched the first kiosks in the home departments of select stores. The kiosks now have expanded to three more departments—women’s, men’s and footwear—and children’s is slated to follow.

The “findmore” concept also soon will be applied to Penney’s jewelry departments in select stores, using the iPad handheld computer from Apple Inc. (No. 4). Jewelry department employees can use the device to present a store’s collection of bridal jewelry available through its Modern Bride section on JCP.com.

An iPad app for jewelry counter staff includes the notebook feature found on the e-commerce site that enables shoppers to add engagement and wedding rings to a virtual notebook and compare ring features side by side.

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