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JCPenney ditches “fair and square” pricing for old sales tactics

After a year of trying simplified sales, JCPenney is nixing the “fair and square” model and going back to convoluted sale tactics their demographic wants, as proven by slumping sales.

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JCPenney’s fair and square model still around

JCPenney has been experimenting with and tweaking their business model under new CEO, Ron Johnson, as they respond and adapt to a changing economic climate. Johnson has been seeking ways to not only expand the company’s market share but to modernize and streamline the shopping experience.

These experiments have come with mixed results, as seen in a 10 percent drop in store traffic, which most believe is due to the company’s removal of coupons in favor of a “fair and square” pricing model where they simply keep prices low, with rounded numbers, offering a full month of the lowest sales price. Simple but different, and while risky, some believe it could have paid off in the long run.

According to USA Today, nearly a year after sales and coupons were ditched by the company, JCPenney will be bringing back sales.

“Our sales have gone backward a little more than we expected, but that doesn’t change the vision or the strategy,” Johnson told USA Today. “We made changes and we learned an incredible amount. That is what’s informing our tactics as we go forward.”

Going back to the traditional sale model

For decades, the legacy brand had been offering weekly sales, weekend sales, white sales, and while simply offering the best price possible makes sense, customers didn’t catch on, as reflected in sales numbers, which ultimately led to the company’s Marketing Chief who was let go with no public explanation.

“We’re moving away from the word ‘month-long value’ because no one really understood that, to calling it what we intended to do, a sale,” Johnson said. Prior to his reign, the company offered nearly 600 sales per year across their departments, which customers apparently understood better than “fair and square” which may say more about the company’s demographic than the intelligence of an experimental CEO.

One of the first sales offered will be a pre-Valentine’s Day sale, 20 percent off on all fine jewelry from February 1st through February 14th.

jcpenney sale

The experiments aren’t over yet

While business must be tended, it is disappointing the criticism the company is receiving for experimenting and trying to simplify shopping rather than offer hundreds of confusing, randomly timed sales. Johnson’s willingness to try new things, pivot, and go back when necessary is admirable, and fortunately, he hasn’t let this experiment hold him back from trying more innovation in retail.

Various reports indicate that the company will be adding manufacturers’ and competitors’ prices to all price tags in the store, which naturally has already drawn criticism as The New York Post claims employees were being told to arbitrarily fabricate these higher prices, which the company has vehemently denied, stating that all prices posted are approved by JCPenney’s legal team.

What is most fascinating is not only the level of criticism the company has received, but how it must feel for Johnson personally – imagine a shoe repair shop employing three people including the founder being called to task for trying a sale, quitting the sale after it didn’t work, then trying new marketing tactics. At least in this scenario, the repair shop and JCPenney are trying new things rather than failing and blaming the economy or consumers.

Marti Trewe reports on business and technology news, chasing his passion for helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to stay well informed in the fast paced 140-character world. Marti rarely sleeps and thrives on reader news tips, especially about startups and big moves in leadership.

Business News

Supreme Court okays trademarking for ‘generic’ name URLs

(BUSINESS NEWS) Generic name trademarks have helped to stave off monopolies of broad products and services, but the Supreme Court just ruled that generic company names like Booking.com, can now be trademarked.

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For years, The United States Patent and Trademark Office has denied rights to names termed as “generic.” This was previously used to prevent generic terms from monopolizing a section of the market. It has prevented many companies from doing that as well.

However, as we move into the 21st century we begin to see things that may not be so cut and dry. As usual life gets messy and things are far more grey than they previously have been.

Recently, the US Supreme Court ruled that website names are eligible for a change to the previous trademark rules. The website that pushed for this privilege first, Booking.com that is owned by Booking Holdings Inc., argued that they needed this ruling to stop consumers from following copycats down a rabbit hole and away from their business.

The decision, heavily weighted at 8-1, gives Booking.com, nationwide legal protection against competing companies trademarks.

A remark released later by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the Supreme Court states, “We have no cause to deny Booking.com the same benefits Congress accorded other marks qualifying as nongeneric.” An argument quoted from the decision continues as since, “‘Booking.com’ is not a generic name to consumers, it is not generic.”

This stance, taken by the majority, exemplifies a firm position on the rights of the individual companies’ abilities to identify themselves as they see fit.

The lone dissenting vote coming from Justice Stephen Breyer who argued that he fears that this decision “will lead to a proliferation of ‘generic.com’ marks, granting their owners a monopoly over a zone of useful, easy-to-remember domains.”

Honestly, if you can’t come up with your own domain that either incorporates, but doesn’t copy, or gets your point across without being too generic, you may need to hire a PR person.

This move forward from the Supreme Court opens up a lot of possibilities for people to be creative with their businesses. If generic and simple names will be the norm, then people will have to think outside the box in the future. Bring on the challenges.

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New company beats Amazon with next morning delivery?

(BUSINESS NEWS) Amazon has a new competitor in South Korea: Coupang, with faster shipping than Prime.

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What if I told you Amazon Prime’s, 1-3 day guaranteed delivery time isn’t the fastest e-commerce service the world has to offer? You would think I’m lying right?

Coupang, one of the world’s fastest delivery services located in South Korea, allows you to order any item, anytime before midnight, promising that it will be at your doorstep by 7am! (I wasn’t lying!) With 70% of its employees living within a 10 minute radius of a Coupang center, 80% of residents residing in populated cities and 95% of it’s population owning a smartphone, South Korea has become the perfect e-commerce epicenter. Coupang employees over 10,000 people who together deliver 99.3% of all orders within 24 hours. Imagine it’s Tuesday night, you’re falling asleep and suddenly remember you forgot to get your wife a present for her 50th birthday tomorrow. You have two options: accept your fate of being put in the dog house for three long weeks, or quickly order a few great items off Coupang’s website that’ll be delivered BEFORE she even wakes up!

Like Amazon, Coupang allows its customers to create a profile, store desired products in a list, and check out using your saved payment method. Half of South Korea’s total population of 51.6 million has installed Coupang’s app with a surge of people trying Coupang for the first time during stay at home orders due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The company struggled to meet fulfillment demands, especially those including PPE, household cleaning products, and children’s necessities. While many companies are struggling to stay afloat, Coupang is quickly adapting to meet consumer demands. In March, the company opened a new logistics center to expand its overnight/same day delivery services and is currently working to reach an even broader population.

Believe it or not, right before Coupang received a $2 Billion investment from SoftBanks, its founder, Kim Bom debated walking away from it all. Bom founded the company in 2010, receiving the investment in 2018 and is expected to pursue an IPO by the end of 2020. So for all of you entrepreneurs wondering if you should give up on that decade long dream…DON’T. Coupang went from selling a few hundred items each day to 3.3 million. Now that’s what you call entrepreneurism!

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Google plans to pay publishers for content (a little too late)?

(BUSINESS NEWS) Google will finally pay publishers for news, but only a few, and they have to meet Google standards.

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I mean…could you get any greedier Google? (Chandler Bings voice).

After years and years of pressure and complaints from publishers that Google’s search feed doesn’t properly recognize them or the news they work so hard to report, Google has finally announced that they will begin to pay publishers for content. But only some.

WHAT A LOAD OF BS.

According to the News Media Alliance, Google profited 4.7 BILLION in 2019 as a search engine for the news industry. So now, not only is Google fleecing its content providers and the writers who are working to create material for them, but it’s quite likely that Google’s algorithm is pushing paid news to the top of its search feed. What does this mean for users? It means that for one, you will see what they want you to see, but most importantly, it means that Google HAS the money to pay its publishers but chooses not too!

Google’s announcement to start paying publishers excludes all publishers outside Brazil, Germany, and Australia. Even within the countries that Google closed a deal with, there are many that do not meet its “high quality content” requirement for a paid position. The problem with all this nonsense is that we stopped letting the news come from others like us, and instead, according to the U.S News Media Alliance, the news is entirely owned by a handful of companies. You may have 635 channels on your TV, but if you google…or maybe you should duck duck go it, you’ll find that all those channels lead back to one huge organization.

SO WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?

Google has definitely been pressured to make some big changes, and while paying publishers is a good first step in the right direction, is it enough to make up for years of damage?

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