More than 30 years after exiting the major appliance business, JCPenney is looking to get back in.
The Texas-based department store chain said it will begin testing a 90- to 150-model majap assortment in 22 stores beginning Feb. 1. The test line will include refrigerators, ranges, dishwashers, and laundry pairs in a range of price points from GE/Hotpoint, LG and Samsung.
The pilot stores, located in San Antonio, Texas, San Diego and Tampa, Fla., will feature dedicated appliance showrooms adjacent to other home departments and staffed with specially-trained sales associates. Select products will be showcased within lifestyle vignettes.
The 1,020-store chain will also add “a broad assortment” of majaps to its jcp.com e-commerce site this spring.
The company said the decision to re-enter white-goods was driven by customer data showing that the vast majority of Penney customers are homeowners and frequently search for majaps on the retailer’s website.
The chain also conducted extensive third-party consumer research in which the majority of respondents “thought it made sense” for JCPenney to sell major appliances, which they considered a natural extension of its home business and an incentive to visit the department stores more frequently.
CEO Marvin Ellison also described the category as a potential shot-in-the-arm for its home business, which remains “one of the least productive areas” in the stores.
“The introduction of major appliances will help us continue to significantly improve sales and gross profit per square foot in our home department,” he said.
The pilot comes as a rival department store chain — longtime top appliance dog Sears — continues to shed market share.
Ellison added that his company will improve the way customers shop for appliances by building “an emotional connection” with Penney’s largely female customer base, which already trusts the chain to furnish its home products and wardrobe. The retailer will also leverage its private-label credit card and rewards loyalty program to make new appliance ownership attainable for more families.
“We are excited to design a shopping experience that combines great products, strong presentation and exceptional customer service to compel new and existing customer to shop and spend more,” he said.
JCPenney exited the white-goods category over 30 years ago, back when the products really were white.