The new JCPenney approach
I recently stepped into a remodeled JCPenney, not far from my home, in the Southdale Mall, Edina. Since my father worked for Penneys for 35+ years, I've always been willing to give them a chance, even though they never were the hippest of stores. But as you probably know, the company recently replaced their CEO with Ron Johnson, who famously headed up Apple's Retail stores to great success.
His moves with JCP have been greatly scruntinized, and there's been lots of handwringing over dropping sales and lost profits. The stock's been taking a beating. He's been fairly radical with what he's done to the company, eliminating all those hundreds of "sales" that retail stores continously run, upgrading their inventory, simplifying their price structure, and remodeling the stores.
What I found upon entering the remodeled store was something refreshing and inspired. Since he was from Apple, I already had a bias toward supporting Mr. Johnson. But I believe in his approach, and think he's on the right track. I want him to succeed too.
The number one word running through my mind when walking through the remodeld store was 'decluttered.' Racks and racks of tightly packed clothing have been replaced by a much more minimal, less-is-more approach to inventory. Areas of the store are being organized into clearly defined departments, or "stores within a store." Everything is so much clearer, cleaner and more manageable.
I feel more relaxed walking through the store. I feel encouraged to browse. When I pick up an item, I can see clearly what the price is. And if it's marked down, that too is printed nicely on the tag. There's no coupons to bring in, no guesswork as to what the final price will be. Simply put, they got rid of all the bullsh** that plagues most retail stores.
I guess if the store was busy (which sadly it was not), it may not have been as enjoyable a shopping experience for me. Hard to say. But not only was the store easier to shop, the quality of clothing seems better too.
Good Design = Good Business
Design has always been at the forefront of Apple's success, and it's clear that design has become a major marketing strategy for JCPenney. Their weekly inserts look so much nicer. So clean, vibrant, and clear. Their ads on TV have stronger appeal. And the clothing is so much more in style.
Good design has typically been more the domain of higher-end, higher priced stores. But Target embraced design to great success. It's differentiated them from the Wal-Marts of the world. Why not JCP? It can't all be about sales and low prices. JCPenney will never win that battle. At least they're starting to form a stronger identity, and giving people a reason to visit.
How This Applies to Web Design
You may wonder what this has to do with my job and this blog. I see JCP's new direction as inspiring for everyone, including web design. By focusing on simplicity, clean and clear messages, and good use of 'white space', you can make your own website more appealing. Offer a pleasant experience. Tighten things up. Focus on quality. It sounds like a winning strategy to me.Tags: