US retail giant JCPenny sets up Australian website as local players shun e-tailing

One of America’s largest department store chains is attempting to cash in on the ambivalence shown to online shopping by Myer, Target and David Jones.

One of America’s largest department store chains is attempting to cash in on the ambivalence shown to online shopping by Myer, Target and David Jones.

In a move certain to shock Australia’s retail establishment, JCPenney has today said it has launched an online store with an Australian website URL and owned by a locally-established licencee.

The online foray into Australia would have to beg the question as to whether the chain has an intention to enter the Australian market in bricks and mortar format if its online operation succeeds – or if it has its eye on acquiring an Australian business whose stores it could convert, such as Wesfarmers’ Kmart operation.

JCPenney has more than 1000 department stores throughout the US and Puerto Rico, as well as one of the largest apparel and home furnishing sites on the internet and the nation’s largest general merchandise catalogue business. The Australian website is managed by JCPIC Australia, which operates under an exclusive licence arrangement.

Sharon Hooker, operations manager of JCPIC Australia, said the company was eager to present its merchandise to Australians who are the third biggest online consumers in the world pro-rata to population.

“Australians are keen shoppers and we expect them to respond well to the opportunities offered by the JCPenney Australia site, to select high-quality and brand name merchandise at prices that compare more favourably than with those locally,” says Hooker. “All prices on the JCPenney Australia site are shown in Australian dollars. With many items priced comparatively lower in the United States, buyers are in for some very pleasant surprises.”

The JCPenney Australia site features an extensive range of merchandise at smart prices, with a variety of departments including women’s, housewares, jewellery, men’s, kids and baby, maternity, bed and bath, windows (curtains and fittings) and more. There are also pages devoted to well known and popular brand merchandise.

Hooker says the product line-up changes every week, and always features several special offers. She says that, in addition to the convenience of shopping from one’s computer, most purchases are shipped to the purchaser’s home within 12 to 14 working days of ordering.

But would Australians be prepared to wait two weeks to receive something purchased online, especially when goods shipped from Amazon in the US generally arrived within a week if they were in stock?

Hooker says the new JCPenney Australia online website is expected to become especially popular with families living in rural, outback and remote areas of Australia who will enjoy access to its wide range of apparel and home furnishings.

Inside Retailing

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