A Store Without a Checkout Counter? JCPenney Presses on with Retail Revolution

“Thus far, the dramatic makeover of JCPenney has hardly been smooth sailing. The overhaul, in which coupons and nonstop sales have been replaced with lower everyday prices, has resulted in confusion among customers and months of subpar sales, as well as the recent ouster of a top executive for the company. Nonetheless, JCPenney CEO Ron Johnson is sticking with the plan to revolutionize a tired old brand—and perhaps retail at a whole.

Speaking at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference, Johnson—a retail superstar who spent years building up Target and the Apple Store—made one eye-opening comment after another.

For instance, considering that America’s fastest-growing retailer is Amazon, and that online retail is booming compared to brick-and-mortar shopping, it’d be better to be a purely online operation going forward, right? Not so, according to Johnson. “If I had to pick today, would I rather be an online-only retailer trying to compete ten years from now, or a physical retailer trying to compete ten years from now?” he said. “Knowing that the digital and physical worlds come together, I’d take the physical retailer in a heartbeat.””

TIME Moneyland

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