Subscription Box’s Newest Member? JCPenney 

The company targets Big & Tall customers with latest effort

Author: Rimma Kats

December 12, 2017

JCPenney has teamed up with Bombfell, a men’s subscription box service, to offer curated boxes to its Big & Tall customers.

According to Dallas News, which first reported on the initiative, the service will work the same way many other subscription box services do, with a stylist curating several pieces based on the customer’s preferences. But this partnership in particular will offer Big & Tall sizes—something JCPenney specializes in—as well as pricing intended to undercut typical subscription box services.

Bombfell’s average price point is $89 per item. However, via the JCPenney partnership, items within the Big & Tall box will average $39. Similar to other subscription services, this one includes a $20 styling fee that goes toward whatever a customer keeps.

Like most department store chains, JCPenney is struggling amidst a consumer shift away from mall shopping. “As shopping moves online or to discount chains, mid-tier department stores need to find ways to differentiate their brand and create stickiness,” said eMarketer analyst Yory Wurmser. “A subscription service is one way, but I don’t see it as a game-changer—rather as a sign that the chain is thinking creatively about consumer behavior. I expect more moves in the coming year where JCPenney tries to create a more modern shopping experience.”

The retailer is relying on personal stylists—with years of experience working in production, design and merchandising in men’s fashion—as well as technology to offer personalized recommendations to each user. But for the department store to thrive in the space the same way a company like Stitch Fix has, it may all come down to data.

In fact, while some subscription box companies struggle to stay afloat, Stitch Fix’s number of active clients jumped nearly 10 times to 2.2 million as of July 29. Furthermore, a study from Hitwise found that online traffic in the subscription box space declined by 3% in September compared with a year prior. But Stitch Fix’s traffic didn’t: It more than doubled during that same period. 

And data is likely the reason that the company is seeing such success. San Francisco-based Stitch Fix recently filed to become a public company, and within its S-1 filing, the term “data science” was mentioned roughly 64 times, in addition to “algorithms,” which was cited 76 times.