Customers at JC Penney can expect to see a lot more technology in the future.
The company began deploying handheld devices to stores in November that allow employees to access training manuals, information about designers, and even check out customers from any point in the store. The technology is a welcome and exciting change for the store in Ahwatukee Foothills.
“We’re really proud of the changes,” said Rosa Anderson, store manager. “I think retailers always want to be at the forefront of technology and customers are going to see more of this.”
JC Penney has been renovating all of its stores in the past few years to go from department stores to more of a collection of branded shops from different designers. Inside their Levi shop they have iPads on display with a “look book” of all the different fits so customers can scan through photos and find the style that’s right for them. Employees around the store are equipped with iPods that allow them to educate themselves and customers about the shops and products, as well as complete their purchases. Anderson said the iPods are cutting down on lines and allowing employees to be where they should be, out on the floor helping customers, rather than stuck behind a register.
“It allows me to engage with customers all over the floor,” said Chae Pollard, a fashion expert at the Ahwatukee Foothills store who focuses on creating a sort of personal shopper experience for customers. “I like making sure I give them the complete experience. Not only do I get to give them that consultation, find the products and see how it fits and build that relationship, but now I can check them out. I don’t have to send them to the front where someone they haven’t worked with for the last hour and a half checks them out. It’s convenient and it keeps it really personal. It makes them feel comfortable.”
Pollard said the iPods also help her keep within a budget when she’s assisting customers. As they shop she can scan their items and adjust prices that are on sale. When customers are ready to check out they just scan their card and enter their own information. Their receipt can be printed at stations around the store or emailed directly to them.
While the new technology is allowing employees to spend more time away from registers, the registers are not going away.
“We’ll still have cash customers and returns that may be a little more intricate,” Anderson said. “We’re actually expanding that into a service desk where they’ll be able to get gift wrapping or boxes as well. It’s inconvenient to leave here with a gift and go to UPS and pick up a box and wrapping, so we’ll be able to provide that.”
Anderson said she’s excited about all the changes at the store, and that customers are excited as well.
“Now that we’re getting it, we’re learning it on a daily basis,” she said. “Sure there are days when we don’t know how to do something, but customers are so great. They’re very gracious and inquisitive. I think it makes it easier for us because they’re so interested.”
Employees at JC Penney admit they aren’t the first store to come out with this new technology, but with a new CEO coming from Apple they estimate that they’ll be front runners with new technology in the future.
At this time, the company says 25 percent of its transactions are coming from mobile check out. The Ahwatukee location is currently at 26 percent.
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