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Why JCP's Online Strategy Is Not That Bad

Stocks in this article: JCP AAPL ANN FIVE BURL M GOOG AAPL

"While J.C. Penney has made great strides in the store, the fact is that those strides have come at the expense of developing some key platforms to thrive in the mobile commerce era," said Brian Sozzi, CEO of Belus Capital Advisors and a contributor to TheStreet in an interview. "Macy's (M) remains the King Daddy of this geeky on the lips 'omnichannel' retailing movement well underway."

The Plano, Texas-based J.C. Penney may be seen as a laggard when it comes to its e-commerce and mobile strategies, but J.C. Penney says that's not the case.

"We are looking to enhance our overall omnichannel experience, and we are committed to offering a seamless shopping experience for our customers," according to an email sent to TheStreet by the company on Friday to share details regarding its e-commerce strategy "Mike Rodgers just joined the company a few months ago, and is working on the next phase of our omnichannel strategy. We will certainly share more details soon."

In February, J.C. Penney hired Rodgers, the former Saks CIO, for a newly created position of senior vice president of omnichannel strategy and execution. J.C. Penney also has a senior vice president of e-commerce, Liz Asay, according to its Web site. Asay also heads up the Sephora mini-stores within roughly 400 of the department chain's stores.

Rodgers had been at Saks since 1993, but was named executive vice president and CIO in 2007. In that position, Rodgers "enabled a state-of-the-art fulfillment center based on advanced robotics to support omnichannel strategy for the rapidly growing Saks Direct business," a J.C. Penney spokesperson had told Internet Retailer at the time of hiring.

Saks was acquired by Hudson Bay Co. in November 2013. For all of 2012, Saks e-commerce unit, Saks Direct generated an estimated $899 million in online sales in 2012, the last full year before the acquisition and up 20.1% from 2011, according to Internet Retailer.

J.C. Penney declined a request by TheStreet to speak with Rodgers on Friday. That said, the company did answer several questions regarding the strategy via the same email.

"We do not break out online sales dollars in our reporting, but we can share that all of our stores are online and connected to JCPenney.com," the email said. "In fact, our [point-of-sale] POS registers have been online and capable of placing jcpenney.com orders for many years."

The spokesperson said stores also have mobile POS capability in stores to supplement our traditional registers during busy shopping times. "Customers are, indeed, able to pay for merchandise right on the spot with these devices. Our mobile POS devices also allow our associates to connect to jcpenney.com, where they can help customers 'find more' by ordering sizes and colors not available in the store. These orders can be shipped to store or to a customer's home," the email stated.

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