JCPenney kills catalogs for 'look books'

JCPenney did away with its giant catalog last year, but stuck with smaller, more specialized catalogs for things like school uniforms and window coverings. But if you're a fan of flipping pages and ordering items, say goodbye to the catalog as we know it: JCPenney still wants you to look, but prefers you do it online or in a physical store.

In lieu of the 12 specialty catalogs, JCPenney will be sending out marketing materials similar to "look books." Fashion houses and designers traditionally use look books to illustrate new collections, but the trend has been sneaking into the mainstream with mass marketers like Target and Kohl's showing off new designer/partner collections as "looks," in addition to item-by-item listings online. Even Best Buy is using look books to showcase its holiday offerings, so JCPenney's transition isn't the surprising part: it's what took it so long.

According to the Dallas Morning News, the new books will direct shoppers online and to stores, allow the company to stock less inventory and allowing JCPenney to be more nimble when responding to price declines and sales. Print is a static reference, web sites and physical stores are not. The new books will begin appearing in Spring 2011.

Shifting from catalogs to look books isn't the only change JCPenney is making. The retailer announced it was renovating 76 stores to include 1,500 square-foot Sephora stores inside JCPenney locations. There will also be dedicated shop-within-shops for new brands such as MNG by Mango and Call it Spring by ALDO, and new fixtures for the roll out of Liz Claiborne across 30 categories.

In the interest of being more interactive, these locations will feature Findmore interactive in-store fixtures, that let shoppers access and purchase from from the store. These store renovations are primarily in California, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, New York and Texas, and will cost the company approximately $160 million.

This story was corrected at 6 p.m. Tuesday, September 28. An earlier version of this story said the catalogs did not include prices when, in fact, they do.
Read Full Story