‘The 5 big mistakes that led to Ron Johnson’s ouster at JC Penney’

Let’s just point this out upfront: By most accounts, Johnson was trying to accomplish the seemingly impossible with a radical reinvention of the JC Penney brand. Many thought that if anyone could do it, it was Johnson, the retail superstar credited for making Target hip and turning the Apple Store into a monster success story. His plans were bold—too bold, virtually everyone now agrees. Correspondingly, he was removed as CEO not because he came up a little short of the goals set for the company. He was ousted because he failed in spectacular fashion.

Good analysis.

  • G

    They panicked and think going back to the past will save them. The first commentator is priceless. They must have customers from hell. “I like JC Penney and shop there a few times a year. I have only ever been in the Apple Store once, to buy my wife an iPhone on Valentines Day and I will never return. Ever.”

    • kibbles

      yeah i chuckled at that. was going to respond with, “You’re buying it wrong”, but didnt want to register.

    • Unfortunately, I agree with him. I avoid going into the Apple stores here in Arizona at all cost. They’re a miserable experience. Too crowded with teenagers who have no intention on buying anything. Virtually no computers in the store anymore. No software. No 3rd party anything (except iPhone cases). You can’t get anyone to help you. When you do get someone, they’re clueless freaking idiots who know little to nothing about the Mac. Paying for something can take 3X longer than it did to decide what to buy.

      The busier Apple Stores are victims of their own popularity.

      • Wow. I have the exact opposite experience at my Oklahoma City Store. Helpful and knowledgeable staff, plenty of computers to try out (a couple each of desktop and laptop models), plenty of accessories (headphones, cases, microphones, and more). Maybe there is something wrong with the Arizona store itself, or Apple needs to focus on standardizing the experience across states?

        As for software, the shrinking software section is happening in stores throughout the industry. BestBuy, Staples and more are seeing shrinking software sections (or the expansion of crap budgetware). Don’t even get me started on how sad it looks and feels walking into a GameStop. BRick and mortar stores have to rethink what they are offering, especially when it comes to boxed software. Online downloads

        • Jim H

          Ditto at the Providence Place mall in RI

      • “No one goes there any more. It’s too busy”. 🙂

        • lucascott

          A problem many companies would love to have.

          But I do think some folks nailed the issue with all this change at JC Penny. It wasn’t just too much too soon for the customers but apparently the staff also. I went into a store a few months back and none of the staff seemed to really care to help. Many of them looked sloppy and hungover etc. I heard they tried to move to an iPod checkout system rather than set registers and the staff hated it. I can’t help but wonder if some of it was because they couldn’t hide anymore. They were expected now to be out in the racks actively cleaning and helping folks. And those that weren’t were getting hours cut and even laid off as bloat in the staff. That kind of thing might make any employee less thrilled to embrace change

  • That is just the thing JC Penny was trying to go with the “everyday low-prices” model of Wal-Mart instead of the discount/coupon game of Macy’s where a coupon has 300+ exclusions listed in microscopic type.

    The brand had already a specific identity with consumers and trying to flip that identity on its head is just not something that consumers allowed.

    It will be interesting to see what they do going forward. It seems like the core consumer demographic is Baby Boomers +. Johnson seemed to have a plan on how make the brand work for younger groups. I just don’t see it lasting over the next 40 years.

  • I can’t remember ever having been in a JC Penney. Which is not to say I haven’t ever been in one, just that there’s nothing I can recall.

    If they’re any better than the last squalid Sears I had a look around, I’d give them praise. I’ve seen a noticeable decline in the selection of a several chain department stores, including Target and Bed Bath & Beyond.

  • Timmy

    Apple started from one store to slow expansion. They had time to see if it would be succesful and experiment along the way. That’s a different story than to change all existing stores and concept at once.

    Same happened in the Netherlands when the a well known grocery chain had the idea to radically change every store and its services at once, also change the name of the stores; it failed miserably and they lost a lot of money. Yes, the person responsible was also ousted.

    Apple expanded retail like a startup, slowly but in for the long haul.