November 18, 2010, 11:59 AM

J.C. Penney makes a massive mobile push for the holidays

Penney launches an m-commerce site, app enhancements, location-based services and more.

Lead Photo

As part of a big mobile push, Penney has launched an m-commerce site.

J.C. Penney Co. Inc. sees mobile commerce as a serious multichannel force this holiday season and is making a massive push, launching an m-commerce site, enhancements to its mobile apps, location-based app promotions and an iAd campaign through Apple Inc.

Shoppers access the m-commerce site by typing in the standard URL, which detects they’re on a mobile device and redirects them to the mobile-optimized site, built by Usablenet Inc. In addition to full m-commerce capabilities—browsing, searching and buying—the mobile site includes a Find Near Me button that when pressed uses a smartphone’s GPS capability to display driving directions to the nearest J.C. Penney store.

J.C. Penney, No. 16 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, also has updated its mobile apps for devices running the iPhone and Android operating systems. The apps let shoppers browse the weekend sales circular; create a portable shopping list by saving items as favorites; find the nearest store to either their current GPS location or to a ZIP code or city name; and sign up for mobile coupons. New app features include the option for customers to make purchases directly from the app and the ability to view their JCP Rewards account, where they can check their points and access $10 reward coupons.

Additionally, the department store chain has signed up with location-based services Foursquare, Brightkite and Facebook Deals. Shoppers using these mobile apps can “check in” using their smartphones when they arrive at one of J.C. Penney’s 1,100 stores and will receive a special $10 off a $50 purchase promotion delivered to their phones via the app.

And J.C. Penney will run a mobile display ad campaign through Apple’s iAd network. The mobile ads, displayed in iPhone apps in the Lifestyle category in the iAd network, will feature a gift hunting game, encouraging shoppers to find a $10 off $50 coupon as they explore an assortment of J.C. Penney gifts. It declines to disclose the cost of the ad buy.

All of this is on top of the merchant’s ongoing mobile coupons program, which it launched earlier this year. The program allows shoppers to opt in to receive weekly coupons sent via text message to their mobile phones. Customers show the code on their mobile phones to a J.C. Penney associate for in-store purchases or enter the code when shopping on Shoppers can text JOIN to the retailer’s telecommunications short code, 527365 (JCP365), to sign up for mobile coupons or sign up on the e-commerce site. Shoppers also can access coupons anytime via the apps.

“We have always been committed to offering relevant shopping experiences to our customers,” says Tom Nealon, group executive vice president of J.C. Penney. “As smartphone, text messaging and mobile web browsing usage continue to grow, mobile is quickly becoming the next frontier in online shopping. We’re focused on continually developing mobile experiences that engage our customers and allow them to easily make purchases directly from their mobile device.”

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