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J.C. Penney Hires Target, Home Depot Execs to Boost Omnichannel Offering

J.C. Penney wants to propel its omnichannel capabilities as part of an ongoing turnaround and the retailer has hired two new executives to aid in the effort.

Michael Amend, formerly the vice president of online, mobile and omnichannel for Home Depot (which was named Internet Retailer of the Year in 2014 by Internet Retailer), will be Penney’s new executive vice president of omnichannel as of Aug. 4.

Mike Robbins, former senior vice president of global supply chain for Target will join the company as senior vice president of supply chain effective Aug. 10.

“Mr. Amend and Mr. Robbins are two exceptional industry veterans who have a successful track record of creating enterprise inventory networks that enable brick-and-mortar and e-commerce to merge into one seamless shopping experience,” said Marvin Ellison, who officially took over the role as chief executive officer for J.C. Penney on Aug. 1 taking Mike Ullman’s place. “Their backgrounds perfectly align with our long-term growth plan to become a world-class omnichannel retailer.”

The retailer already offers customers the ability to buy online and ship to any one of its stores and more customers opted to order that way in the first quarter. “This results in more trips and add-on purchases when they visit the store to pick up their order. On average, a buy online ship to store customer will purchase additional merchandise 20 percent of the time when they visit a store,” Ullman said on the earnings call in May.

Penney’s has also enhanced its ability to fulfill online orders from its in-store base inventory, a concept the retailer calls enterprise inventory. In the first quarter, Penney’s expanded the number of stores used to fulfill online orders by more than 160 stores.

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“Our goal is to continue to expand our buy online ship from store capabilities to better leverage our inventory, utilize our existing stores as mini fulfillment centers, and satisfy the needs of our omnichannel customers. It’s important to note that an omnichannel customer shops 2.5 times more frequently in a year than a traditional brick-and-mortar customer, so it is essential that we continue to convert store-only customers to omnichannel,” Ullman explained on the call. “Later this year we will be rolling out buy online pick up in store same day in several key markets with a Company-wide rollout planned for 2016.”

Penney’s has been battling its way back from big losses—the retailer reported a nearly 25 percent drop in sales in 2012 and sustained steady declines until last year when it reported a 3 percent sales increase.

In May, Penney’s reported a 2.14 percent increase in net sales to $2.86 billion in the first quarter and same store sales rose 3.4% for the period.

Ullman said at the time of the report’s release, “We are pleased with the company’s solid performance this quarter across all key metrics including sales, gross margin and EBITDA. This year we are switching gears, going on the offensive to gain back share and grow our business profitably while executing our vision to become the preferred shopping choice for Middle America.”