FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Monday, April 03, 2006

JCPenney Wraps Pilot of Self-Service "Concept Store"

Last week, retailer JCPenney closed a temporary "pop-up" storefront in New York City's Times Square that it had opened earlier in the month to coincide with the Oscars. The store was an experimental "concept store" in which shoppers made all their purchases via kiosk.

Instead of having racks of clothes, the store featured minimalist displays of large photos and mannequins modeling certain items. Shoppers could then place an order through a kiosk and either take their purchases or have them shipped to their home. The store was staffed with a handful of managers from other stores, who were on hand mainly to answer questions and assist shoppers with the kiosks if necessary.

Though few shoppers had difficulty with the kiosks, reaction to the store was reportedly mixed. Some shoppers liked the kiosk concept, while others would liked to have seen more inventory in stock. Admittedly, using technology in clothes shopping -- a tactile experience in which shoppers like to try on different sizes and styles -- is more of a challenge than with other products.

JCPenney said that the purpose of the store was to generate interest in their website, JCP.com, though they are continuing to test kiosks in three of their more conventional stores. They surely had some takeaways from the concept store experience, such as the situations in which kiosks were effective and where they were actually counterproductive.

Source: SelfServiceWorld