J.C. Penney is going to expand its home services by testing six new programs in 100 stores. Starting later this month, shoppers will see signs in J.C. Penney home departments and on its digital storefront for services in bathroom remodeling, home heating and cooling systems, quick-ship and installed blinds, whole home water solutions, awnings, and smart home technology.
Total Retail's Take: You have to give credit to J.C. Penney for its willingness to try new things. Whether this new business initiative is going to work for the traditional department store chain may be a whole another story. J.C. Penney recognizes the status quo isn't working, and therefore is trying to identify potential opportunities when it can gain market share. Home services is such an area, as Home Depot and Lowe's consistently report quarter-over-quarter sales gains. J.C. Penney CEO Marvin Ellison is hoping to increase his sales with both new and current customers, noting that 70 percent of his current shoppers are homeowners. (Ellison is also very familiar with the home improvement vertical, having spent six years at Home Depot before coming to J.C. Penney.) I have my doubts that J.C. Penney will ever be a market leader in home services, but I don't think that's its goal. Ellison is looking to gain market share where there are opportunities, not dominate new verticals. With store traffic on the decline, J.C. Penney is wisely diversifying its business.