Is JCPenney finally getting their s**t together?
After several disastrous sales and public relations years, JCPenney seems to think their future is finally looking bright. According to JCP’s new CEO Marvin Ellison, who took over in August, the department store is now in the rebuilding phase of their recovery plans, and past what he called the “patching holes” phase.
Back in 2011, Ron Johnson, former senior vice president of retail operations at Apple, came to JCP with new ideas to make the company more modern. Johnson did away with coupons and sales, wanting a store where all prices were generally lower than competitors at all times – no coupons necessary. In addition, he did away with or downplayed JCP’s in-house brands like Arizona and St. John’s Bay to bring more attention to fashionable brands like Nike and Liz Claiborne.
By the end of Johnson’s reign, he had cut out 14 Penney’s house brands and replaced them with “cooler” outside brands. By the fourth quarter of 2012 fiscal year, same-store sales had plummeted 32 percent and by April of 2013 Johnson was ousted as CEO.
JCPenney is feeling pretty confident
With last quarter’s sales up 4.1 percent, Ellison is confident that the return of their house brands, store makeovers, and a focus on improved technology can continue to improve their sales, and help the company get back to where it was pre-Johnson.
Ellison and JCP will be mostly working on behind the scenes technology that shoppers won’t even consciously notice. The JCP team will focus on improved database management, demand forecasting, and personalized offers based on shoppers’ buying patterns.
Improving each shopper’s experience is going to be a main focus; while JCP has the same number of shoppers as before its 2012 disaster, 86 million, its annual sales are $6 billion lower. Encouraging shoppers to purchase more with personalized offers is an easy way to subtly increase spending.
Investing in technology
Time and money spent on technology can also help JCPenney avoid the pitfalls that Target and other such stores are now forced to deal with publicly. Target’s shelves are suffering and constantly out of stock because their inventory management system is inadequate and lacking updates.
However, the right technology can help retailers purchase the right amount of product for each and every store – no underbuying, no overbuying, no wasted money, no unhappy customers.
Will investing in technology save JCPenney from itself?