J.C. Penney's enhanced fine jewelry department.

If you can get customers to shop fine jewelry, they’re likely to shop other categories.

That’s a big part of J.C. Penney’s thought process behind finessing its fine jewelry departments, a category that accounted for 6 percent of the retailer’s $13 billion in total revenues last year and a “top-performing” division.

WWD has learned that Penney’s, with holiday selling just around the corner, has stepped up its game plan for fine jewelry. Among the tactics is introducing smartwatches from Samsung, LG, MisFit, Relic and Garmin, which arrive in 245 stores — Penney’s best-performing fine jewelry locations — and on jcpenney.com beginning Oct. 30. Based on customer response, additional locations could be considered. Penney’s operates 875 stores.

Prices for the wearables sold in the stores will range from $155 to $349.99, though there will be an expanded assortment available online. Previously, Penney’s had a very limited smartwatch selection online and sold just one smartwatch in stores.

J.C. Penney’s smartwatch assortment. 

In other tactics:

• The fine jewelry department has been branded JCPenney Co. Fine Jewelry, Est. 1902, to evoke some history and heritage. The department was not branded before.

• The Modern Bride assortment within fine jewelry has been updated with new fixturing, graphics and display.

• J.C. Penney’s is more rigorously training sales associates for better service, educating them on the quality and characteristics of diamonds, gemstones and precious metals and imparting greater product knowledge.

“Fine jewelry is an extremely personal purchase, boasting some of the most loyal customers in our store. By bringing the latest trends in smartwatch technology into our assortment, we have the chance to attract new customers and introduce them to other areas inside J.C. Penney,” said Pam Mortensen, senior vice president of fine and fashion jewelry and watches.

“Our research tells us that fine jewelry is one of the best opportunities for cross-shopping” into other categories, she added.

J.C. Penney’s said it will have an “interactive” presentation, encouraging shoppers to touch and discover the watches. The company is developing a “watch professional” program that trains fine jewelry associates on the technical aspects and characteristics of each brand, including the smartwatches, and trends. It will launch in early 2018 and offer associates ongoing education via mobile devices, broadcast programs, e-learning courses and new product information cards for quick reference on the sales floor.

J.C. Penney’s has been selling Modern Bride engagement and wedding rings, in collaboration with Condé Nast, since 2011. The “refresh” with new back-wall graphics, printed engagement guides, updated fixtures and in-case presentations that better differentiate the merchandise has just been completed.

“The wedding ring purchase is a gateway to the rest of the store and Modern Bride represents a significant opportunity to develop a life-long customer relationship as she gets married, buys a house and starts a family,” Mortensen said. “She is a budget-conscious customer and comes to J.C. Penney for the value that we offer — without sacrificing design or quality. We already know that Modern Bride customers shop twice as often and spend significantly more than the average J.C. Penney shopper.”

Penney’s assortment in fine jewelry also includes Hallmark Bridal “affordable” bridal jewelry geared for Millennials, and Enchanted Disney Fine Jewelry. Penney’s tested Hallmark Bridal in select stores last holiday season and introduced the products to additional stores in May 2017. Enchanted Disney Fine Jewelry was introduced in select stores in February.

According to Penney’s, the fine jewelry strategy reflects efforts to improve on a good thing, rather than repairing something that’s broken. “Fine jewelry is not considered an underdeveloped part of the store. In fact, it has been one of our top performing divisions,” a spokeswoman said. “By reinvigorating our in-store fine jewelry presentation, we hope to entice new and younger customers and introduce her to shop more areas inside J.C. Penney.”

From Penney's Modern Bride assortment.

From Penney’s Modern Bride assortment.  Courtesy Photo

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