February 13, 2012
J.C. Penney just blew up its brand — in a good way — thanks to a new management team with some radical new ideas. J.C. Penney is about to be the most interesting retail story of the year.
Late last year, J.C. Penney began building a dream team with Ron Johnson — the man who launched Apple‘s retail stores — as its new CEO. Johnson cut his retail teeth at Target and from there he poached Michael Francis to serve as J.C. Penney’s new president. Francis is largely responsible for Target’s branding and marketing efforts.
And this week, Johnson took a sledgehammer to the J.C. Penney way of doing business. It’s the most exciting thing I’ve seen in retail since Apple opened stores, again with Johson at the the helm.
There’s a new logo, new spokesperson, new pricing stategy, an investment in Martha Stewart
Omnimedia and another designer partnership with Nanette Lepore. All in two short months.
J.C. Penney — now being referred to as jcpenney — is implementing a new pricing strategy, slashing prices up to 40% with to keep them that way year round. Not EDLP, this fair pricing strategy is designed to keep prices low on the basics shoppers look for frequently and introduce new merchandise on a routine schedule.
“We want customers to shop on their terms, not ours,” said Johnson. “By setting our store monthly and maintaining our best prices for an entire month, we feel confident that customers will love shopping when it is convenient for them, rather than when it is expedient for us.”
It’s a shocking move for any retailer, let alone a department store where hi-low pricing and promotions have long been the norm.
There will also be an entirely new layout, with brands merchandised in shops within the store rather than endless racks and runs of shelves. There aren’t many new ways to display merchandise and any effort to re-invent the in-store experience will be welcome with shoppers and provide a reason to buy in stores, rather than looking for bargains online.
“The department store is the number one opportunity in retail today. We are going to rethink every aspect of our business, boldly pursue change, and create long-term shareholder value, as we become America’s favorite store,” Johnson said. “Every initiative we pursue will be guided by our core value to treat customers as we would like to be treated – fair and square.”
The new logo is meant to evoke the American Flag, a move likely to resonate with today’s shoppers and set it apart from the rest of the retail pack.
Most retailers make tentative steps toward change. They take a year to develop a new store format, reconfigure a layout or commission a logo. Then they test it, refine it and test it again. It can take years to roll out changes to a large store base and often before that happens, the plan changes again.
But Johnson is anything but typical. Changes begin on Feb. 1 and in August jcpenney will begin updating all stores with new merchandise and presentations, adding two to three shops each month through 2015 in what management is calling a complete transformation.
It’s refreshing, daring and probably exactly what the retailer needs. It’s probably what a lot of retailers need but few have the leadership and support to do it.
For more information, visit: http://www.forbes.com/sites/lauraheller/2012/01/26/why-jcpenney-will-be-the-most-interesting-retailer-of-2012/