When I walked out of jcpenney, this past Tuesday morning, I had snapped 178 photos within an hour. The slideshow this week is longer (8 minutes) than the previous ones in my Window Shopping Project. It progresses from Dresses to Swimwear to Juniors to Intimates & sleepwear to Tights, Purses, Women's Sizes, Shoes, Career dressing, Cosmetics, Jewelry, Sundresses, Boutiques, Jeans. Having visited three mid-level retail department stores this week, I must say that I was impressed!
The last time I stepped foot in this store was last September when my daughter was shopping a last minute bridesmaid dress. I was along to corral the grandson. It was early on a Saturday evening and I found that shopping disorienting. But since, this store like 1,106 others operating in all 50 U.S. states and Puerto Rico is undergoing a significant change.
The last week in January, Ron Johnson, the same man who launched Apple's retail stores and cut his retail teeth at Target, rolled out "a new logo, a new spokesperson, a new pricing strategy, an investment in Martha Stewart Omnimedia, and another designer partnership with Nanette Lepore."
Johnson has said, "We want our customers to shop on their terms, not ours...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." I saw first hand evidence of the new pricing strategy in the juniors department of this store, although the changes will continue through 2015.
No doubt, American readers of my blog have seen clips of Ellen DeGeneres advertisements for jcpenney and perhaps you were part of the controversy surrounding her selection as spokesperson. She, like Sam Walton before her, once worked for jcpenney. She is thought to "put the fun back in the retail experience." And perhaps, the fun in fundamental "Fair and Square" pricing. "Everyday pricing" refers to "our regular prices which are always great." "Month long values" are "even better prices on the things you need now." And "best prices," which you see some of in my video, indicate "our lowest prices," which "always happen on the 1st and 3rd fridays of every month, while they last."
The new logo alludes to the American flag in a subtle and sophisticated way...and it pervades everything from the merchandising to the shelf tags in the store I visited.
One wonders what James Cash Penney would think of these changes. Penney was one of the founders in 1902 of "The Golden Rule" store in Kemmerer, Wyoming. Unlike the discount retailers I reviewed in February that sprung up in the American Midwest, Penney's grew in the Rocky Mountain states. In 1963, J.C. Penney issued its first catalog. And years ago, I visited a catalog store in rural Montana. By 1993, J. C. Penney was the largest catalog retailer in the United States. In 2011, the company announced it would exit the catalog business.
I don't know that I've ever seen the television shopping channel(s) I have read that they developed and I can't say that I have ordered anything from their website, but I do think there are some exciting changes in store at jcpenneys.
In the hour I spent there, at least three sales assistants inquired whether I needed help, but no one intruded on my shopping experience. I was pleasantly surprised by the diversity of their assistants and of the clientele. A woman speaking French made her way with two children through the store. And only in the shoe department did a male clerk inquire what I might be doing snapping so many photos of the merchandise. I've never worked in retail so I wonder if employees have to deal with secret shoppers out to scope out quality control. Do any of my readers have insight about this.
In short, I would shop the revamped jcpenney, especially if I had an occasion for a new dress. And to answer last week's lingering question--the new approach to merchandising does not appear to extend to the outlet store.
Have any of my readers noticed the changes at jcpenney's? And what was the last thing you purchased there?