Offline Catalog Experience Makes JCPenney.com Tops Online
Written: Oct 9, 2001 (Updated Oct 9, 2001)
The Bottom Line
JCPenney.com offers wide selection, good value, and fast delivery. It's a site I'll use over and over.
Iíve been a JC Penney catalog shopper since my children were very small. Every October Iíd get their Christmas catalog, which offered a discount for items purchased early. Iíd order toys for my kids, knowing how hard it was to get to the toy store without them, and have the toys delivered to my Momís house. One night, about a week before Christmas, Iíd go over after they were asleep and weíd have a gift wrap party. Iíd transfer the wrapped presents to the trunk of my car, and tiptoe up the stairs to hide them in a closet.
My second son once surprised me by making a Christmas list for Santa when he was in kindergarten. It read something like this:
I went laboriously to the JC Penney catalog and transcribed it into items. ďSanta wonít understand that list,Ē I told him, knowing only too well that we would.
Iíve used the JC Penney online site several times now, and find it to be one of the most comprehensive, easy to use online shopping sites on the net. Their many years of experience as a catalog sales company has given them the edge as a leading online department store merchandiser.
Coupons and Sales
JC Penney participates in a number of rebate, coupon and sale promotions. Last Sunday, for example, they offered 30% off all regular price items online (coupon code FALLVIP.) They advertised this in a mail circular and offered the promotion concurrently with a storewide sale. I took the opportunity to purchase some school uniform items for my daughter, and got one pleated skirt, two pair of pants, and two golf shirts for $44.
JCPenney.com coupons can be found in a number of places besides your mailbox. I have seen JCPenney coupons on dealcatcher.com and milesource.com, and recently used a 20% off a $50 purchase coupon on dealcatcher.com I just checked both these sites, and donít see any Penney coupons currently, but Iím sure theyíll be offered in the future.
Shoppers can sign up for JCPenneyís e-mail sales and promotion registry to receive e-mails of special offers.
JCPenney.com is also signed up with www.ebates.com (3%), charity site shopandsupport.com (4%), and college savings program www.upromise.com (3%.)
Once youíve decided which rebate program to access JCPenney.com through, and have gathered any online or mail coupons to use, itís time to look at the site itself.
Finding Things Is a Pleasure at JCPenney.com
If you have JC Penney catalogs, you can order items by keying in the item and catalog information. Penneyís catalogs include their Fall/Winter Big Book, their Christmas catalog, and specialty catalogs such as Palm Beach Jewelry, Big and Tall Men, Maternity, Especially for Talls, Uniforms and Scrubs, Gift Registry, Jodee (lingerie), Fashion Influences, Special Needs, Home Values, Plus Sizes, and Baby Book. Catalogs can be requested online, and, if there is a small charge attached for a few, it is offset by a coupon which more than covers the cost.
If you donít have a catalog, items are organized into categories and subcategories, and clothing items can be found by manufacturer (such as Leviís) as well as size and gender groupings. Pictures appear with each item, and you can magnify each picture and see it close up.
When I was looking for school uniforms for my daughter Sunday, I wasnít entirely happy with the size charts. The uniform shorts Iíd gotten her at the beginning of the year were Junior Size 3. She also had a pair of navy pants from her elementary school last year, which was Child Size 12 slim. I looked at the Junior 3 uniforms, but they didnít list the inseam length for the pants (neither did the childrenís pants size chart, except I knew that the 12 slims fit.) There wasnít a length listed for the skirt. Her school has a strict rule: ďSkirts and shorts must be no shorter than five inches from the floor when kneeling.Ē
Their return policy is fairly liberal. Items accompanied by a receipt can be refunded for cash (or credit card credit), with no deadline listed. Items without receipts can be returned for store gift cards. Shipping is not refundable.
Furniture can be returned within 7 days.
Still, Iíd rather see size charts that gave lengths or height parameters for clothing purchases.
When buyers go to the checkout page, they see a list of items ordered. A box for promotional coupons or codes is listed, and savings are deducted on the following page.
Payment can be made by JC Penney credit card, MasterCard, Visa, American Express, or Discover.
Two types of checkout are available--standard or express. Standard checkout offers the options of gift-wrap or payment by gift certificate. I have tried to use the express checkout and run into snags, so I generally stick with standard checkout.
Items can be delivered to home addresses or to the nearest store (a store locator is listed on the website.) Shipping costs accrue in either case, but they are about 25% less when items are delivered to the nearest store.
Unlike so many online stores, which charge for shipping per item or by purchase price, JCPenney.com charges shipping costs based on total weight of items. Item weight appears in the online and offline catalogs.
JCPenney is a secure site, using industry standard encryption procedures.
E-mail confirmations are sent upon purchase. Shipping progress can be checked online.
Items delivered to the nearest store usually arrive within two to five days. Items delivered to the home arrive in 4 to 5 business days. I have not seen any options for express delivery, and assume that if you want an item more quickly, itís best to have it sent to the store.
United Parcel Service appears to be JCPenney.comís preferred method of delivery, although it states that it uses both United Parcel Service and the US Postal Service.
Why I Like JCPenney.com
I like JCPenney.com because of their wide variety of products, the flexibility of choosing products by offline catalog numbers or through their online site, their frequent sales and promotions, the high quality of their merchandise, and their prompt delivery.
In the department store category, Iíve also used walmart.com, and have found that JCPenney offers a much wider variety of items and many more coupon specials (although, overall, Wal-Martís prices are lower.)
Christmas is coming.....I donít have real little ones to shop for anymore, but I will shop with confidence at jcpenney.com for my faraway family and friends.