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JCPenney Preps for Life After Sephora

JCPenney’s partnership with Sephora is inching closer to the end. Learn how the department store retailer is moving on and the technology helping it along.
Jamie Grill-Goodman
Editor in Chief
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JCPenney will launch its new “hyper-inclusive” in-store and online beauty experience in October, as its partnership with Sephora inches closer to the end.

Sephora, which has operated shop-in-shops inside JCPenney stores since 2006, delivered a blow to the department store retailer when it announced at the end of 2020 that it would team up with Kohl's on 850 "Sephora at Kohl's" shops by 2023.Sephora and JCPenney’s operating agreement is scheduled to end in 2023.

[See more: First Look: Sephora’s Beauty Shops in Kohl’s Stores]

Now, as JCPenney prepares for a post-Sephora future, it will launch JCPenney Beauty into ten JCPenney stores mid-October and on starting Oct. 15, with rollouts planned across all 600 remaining stores by 2023.

JCPenney is partnering with more than 170 brands to offer what it calls a “hyper-inclusive shopping experience” driven by customer demand for minority-owned brands.

“Rooted in inclusivity, JCPenney Beauty grew out of direct feedback from our customers,” said Michelle Wlazlo, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer, JCPenney. “Together with our brand partners, we have reimagined every aspect of our beauty experience — from the highly curated assortment and welcoming space to the integrated loyalty program and all new e-commerce experience.

The assortment will span makeup, skincare, haircare, styling tools, fragrance, nailcare, and bath and body products at varying price points.

"From established fan favorites to new cult classics, we're excited to champion diversity in beauty and help our customers discover their new favorite products while celebrating their authentic beauty,” said Wlazlo.

To source the bevy of beauty brands the retailer used Landing International’s digital marketplace, which connects growing brands with buyers from major and mid-sized retailers. The JCPenney and Landing partnership is powered by technology to bring beauty products from inclusive indie brands to customers across America. To build excitement and engagement with retail staff, Landing is utilizing its training tool to provide a single point of product knowledge to educate JCPenney's in-store sales associates on the participating brands. The training technology streamlines the creation of training materials so that indie brands save time and resources on their training programs, while still competing with established brand names for sales associate attention.

"We are so excited to partner with JCPenney on their new beauty concept," said Sarah ChungCEO, and founder of Landing International. "JCPenney's vision of inclusivity resonates deeply with Landing's values. We proudly support our brands and founders who reflect the beautiful faces of JCPenney."

The First 10 JCPenney Beauty Locations

  • Davenport, FL
  • Dearborn, MI
  • Greenville, NC
  • McAllen, TX
  • Mesquite, TX
  • Niles, OH
  • Springfield, MO
  • Saint Cloud, MN
  • Trumbull, CT
  • Whittier, CA

Nearly half of the brands in the JCPenney Beauty assortment are masstige brands — the tier fueling innovation, growth, and experimentation. The other half of the business is balanced between mass and prestige brands. Customers will be able to earn and redeem points on JCPenney Beauty products as part of JCPenney Rewards loyalty program. 

JCPenney Beauty will feature a shop-in-shop experience with Thirteen Lune, an inclusive e-commerce site founded by Nyakio Grieco, and Patrick Herning, the founder of 11 Honoré, a luxury plus size fashion label. Of the 170 brands at JCPenney Beauty, 39 are from Thirteen Lune including Buttah Skin, Bossy Cosmetics, Mischo Beauty, Pholk Beauty, Prados Beauty, Sara Happ, Spraise, Vernon François, and Wander Beauty. 

Meanwhile, Sephora, owned by LVMH, began opening the first of its in-store beauty shops inside Kohl’s stores in August with plans to have 200 of the retail experiences open this fall. The spaces measure more than 2,500 square feet and offer around 125 hair, fragrance, makeup and skincare brands. They’re staffed by Sephora-trained associates (known as “beauty advisors”) and Sephora purchases made at Kohl’s stores and on its website are eligible for Sephora’s Beauty Insider rewards benefits. The two companies are also integrating their e-commerce experiences so shoppers can locate nearby Sephora and Kohl's locations with the beauty products available.

Kohl’s operates more than 1,100 stores in 49 states, while Sephora has more than 500 stores in the Americas. Jean-André Rougeot, president and CEO of Sephora Americas, noted during the initial announcement last year that these not pop-up collaborations but rather a long-term brand partner investment.

Another retail/beauty collaboration on the way is Target and Ulta shop-in-shops. As with the Kohl’s/Sephora collaboration, these too will be manned by specially trained associates. Target has said more than 50 curated prestige brands will be featured in the stores, while an online experience will be offered on Target’s website and through its mobile app. Consumers will be able to rack up rewards from both Target and Ulta Beauty loyalty programs, and the experience is expected to be installed in 800 Target stores in the coming years.