There seems to be great panic about JCPenney shutting down 138 stores; and a 1.3% drop in revenue from stores open for a year. The stock prices are falling and people are talking about how eCommerce is killing retail stores. Is there a real reason to panic?

The growth of brick and mortar revenues has been on the decline for some time now (2% in 2016 compared to 16% growth in online revenues),  There is an inevitable evolution of retail stores into showrooms and pick up points, as online searches drive visits to stores, Businesses that focus on improving online revenues and strengthening their omnichannel strategy will ride the wave and win the game.

As per,, 40% of JCPenney store traffic already does originate online.  I was curious to see whether there is scope for improving their online customer engagement to drive up revenues in the wake of all this furor. I used a tool called, similarweb, studied their website and their digital campaigns.

I was surprised by some of the results.

The website basics are very strong, and there is good potential to grow the revenues.

  1. The website has 30M visits per month with good site navigation, speed, low bounce rates, and with more than 70% of their visits coming from direct traffic or organic search.
  2. The average time spent on site is 6:17 minutes, which is decent but not top of the line.
  3. Good product recommendations and my own personalized page based on my browsing history.

However, there are some of the most obvious missed opportunities for customer engagement and eCommerce conversions.

After I create an account, my welcome email is a bland message listing the benefits of signing up including an invitation to join the rewards club

  1. Why would I as a registered email subscriber not be automatically enrolled in their rewards program and accumulate points or discounts every time I buy from them?
  2. As per the CEO, they are refocusing on athletic and leisurewear, besides Sephora beauty. They could have induced me into the “club” by sending me an email with a walkthrough of their new focus categories.
  3. They could send me what’s trending in the categories I already browsed so I build affinity towards the JCPenney brand and shoppers community.

I left items in the cart and got no product recommendations based on the products I viewed or even left in the cart.

Based on our experience with 200+ retailers, personalized emails get open rates between 25%-50%, and in general, good emails get eCommerce conversion rates of over 5%. So in spite of expressing my intent to buy and leaving my footprints all over the site, they did not take the opportunity to retarget me and rekindle my interest enough to come back and make a purchase.

I checked out their social media engagement and found that posts are done only at two-three day intervals.

Daily posts on Facebook can potentially reach 5-6% of their 5 Million Facebook fan base organically with no ad spend. These can be automatically scheduled with no additional effort by the social media team.

With a good 5M fan base and 30M monthly visits, there is plenty of customer intent and profile data that can be mined to create very effective customer acquisition strategies with FB retargeting campaigns at a pretty low cost. Today their site gets only 2% of their visits through social media – this can be bumped up with the low cost and smart strategies.

With the right use of deep data and consumer analytics, and the latest marketing automation tools, an uplift in online revenues by even 10% could boost their overall numbers and improve shareholder confidence.

YFret is a marketing automation platform built for marketers who use conversions as a key metric, looking to translate deep insights into actions, want a simple to use tool that gives control on their marketing while automating tedious repetitive stuff.  Please contact Tina Mani at or 1.415.601.3258.