In less than a year of opening its technology centre in Bengaluru, US retailer JCPenney has made it the hub of fundamental engineering solutions,one that works very closely with the tech team in Plano, US.

Bengaluru: In less than a year of opening its technology centre in Bengaluru, US retailer JCPenney has made it the hub of fundamental engineering solutions, one that works very closely with the tech team in Plano, US. The $12.5-bn US retailer has 400 people in India now, with 100 of them part of its omni-channel strategy, building solutions that integrate multiple retail channels such as physical stores, home delivery, the Web, and the mobile.

The Bengaluru facility has the capacity to hold 1,000 people, indicating the extent of hiring the company plans. Like several American retailers including Target, Macy’s and Sears, JCPenney has been struggling in recent years against the onslaught of online retail and changing consumer preferences, and it sees India’s technology prowess as key to recovering lost ground.

Michael Amend, Executive Vice-President of omni-channel in JCPenney, calls his omni-channel initiative Project Pulsar, and a significant part of this team and the leader who runs it sit in Bengaluru. “We have built a pricing and promotion engine, we are investing in building mobile app capabilities, and improving the in-store experience. We are also rolling out an intelligent order sourcing logic that, when an order is made online, scans the entire inventory in real-time, understands the labour cost, transportation costs, value of the goods and a whole host of factors to figure out what is the best place to source the order from,” he told on a recent visit to Bengaluru.

The complex algorithm has turned the traditional order-sourcing system upside down. “The team here have done an amazing job of improving the accuracy and relevance of our search through some new tech, including machine learning and advanced algorithms,” Amend said.

The pricing and promotion engine wasn’t part of the roadmap initially. But looking at the talent, the global leadership has fast forwarded the journey. “Way beyond what we expected,” said DhritimanSaha, SVP digital at JCPenney. Flipcart, Snapdeal and other e-commerce players in India have produced a ready pool of talent, and JCPenney has attracted some of them. “Many leaders sitting here are playing a global role. My engineering head sits in Bengaluru, but she has a team back in Dallas. My search engine leader sits here, he has a team here and in Austin,” Saha said.

SnehilGambhir, MD, JCPenneyBangalore, provides another instance of how the teams here are driving tech solutions for the company’s global markets. Code-named Project Delphi, the machine learning algorithm calculates the total price of items in a cart after applying local coupons real-time. “Prior to that, we had legacy technologies that weren’t scalable. It wasn’t cloud-based and we couldn’t drive personalised promotions,” Gambhir said.