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01/11/2022

J.C. Penney taps Gap, Neiman Marcus tech execs

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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J.C. Penney is making two senior-level technology appointments.

The J.C. Penney Co. Inc. is supporting ongoing technology innovation efforts with appointments of two retail industry veterans.

The department store retailer has named Sharmeelee Bala and Katie Mullen to C-level, technology- and digital-related positions. Bala has been named CIO, and will assume responsibility for the IT organization and global technology systems that support the company’s stores, operational centers and supply chain, and corporate functions.

Bala will lead development of solutions to combine J.C. Penney’s physical assets with its digital footprint. She joins the company from Gap Inc., where she held leadership positions since 2018 and most recently served as the head of product engineering. Bala also spent 20 years with Walmart in a number of technology and executive roles of increasing responsibility. She earned a master’s degree in engineering technology from BITS Pilani in India.

Meanwhile, Mullen becomes J.C. Penney’s chief digital and transformation officer (CDO). Mullen will lead the growth of the e-commerce business, including jcp.com. She will also be responsible for driving enterprise strategy and the company’s transformation agenda.

Mullen most recently spent nearly three years with Neiman Marcus Group, serving as chief transformation officer and then chief digital officer. Previously, she was a partner and managing director at Boston Consulting Group. She has a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and a master of business administration degree from University of Pennsylvania.

The retailer is bringing these veteran executives on board as it has been attempting to beef up its digital shopping experience. Recently, J.C. Penney deployed smart predictive technology to better understand what assists shoppers in making purchase decisions. The company is using artificial intelligence (AI) technology from Metrical in an effort to drive e-commerce transformation and improve its online customer experience.

Since deploying the Metrical predictive AI platform, Penney has experienced a 40% increase in new cart creation, an 18% reduction in cart abandonment, and a 10% improvement in revenue on targeted visits.

J.C. Penney also recently built upon existing buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS) and curbside pickup services by partnering with on-demand delivery platform DoorDash to offer same-day delivery of select online orders. The retailer is delivering beauty and salon merchandise in select markets, as well as home goods from more than 600 stores, via DoorDash. Shoppers can browse and order beauty and salon items such as makeup, skincare, fragrance, styling tools, and haircare; as well as home goods, for same-day delivery on orders placed up to an hour before the store closes through the DoorDash mobile app or e-commerce site.

“With a strong balance sheet and unique products and services backed by our iconic American brand, J.C. Penney is a destination for best-in-class talent like Sharmeelee and Katie,” said Marc Rosen, CEO, J.C. Penney. “Sharmeelee and Katie will be invaluable partners as we move forward with our digital journey and transform the business through technology and innovation.”

J.C. Penney operates more than 650 stores across the United States and Puerto Rico and at the company’s flagship store, jcp.com.