Monday, April 8, 2013

JC Penney CEO Ron Johnson is Out, Good Riddance

Terrific news. JC Penney CEO Ron Johnson (formerly of Apple and Target) has been fired. Former CEO Mike Ullman is back in.

Ron Johnson clearly had no clue how to run JC Penney.

His incredibly stupid management of the retail giant nearly killed it. Whenever you see a business change from discount coupons to "everyday low prices," it means "no sales anymore." Johnson got rid of popular, high-quality brands and replaced them with cheap, sub-Walmart merchandise.

What's really bizarre is Johnson had no online marketing strategy. For a supposedly "hip" innovator, this is a very strange blind spot for Johnson.

The JC Penney website is a terribly inept, unappealing, dull. When you visit it, you have no idea what it is. It looks like some spammy link farm. The central slide show is annoying and boring. There is nothing happy, glamorous, or exciting about the website. It might as well be selling auto parts. I did notice that there is suddenly a discount coupon on it.

That faint grey text on white background, the commonly encountered curse of modern web design, makes their website a pain to read, but at least they do use dark black text in several spots.

Sales staff at JC Penney went from friendly to hard to find, prices escalated as quality nose-dived, and Johnson's plan to serve ice cream and free haircuts for kids was a completely idiotic idea, especially for people shopping for clothes.

"Does this XL shirt make me look fat?" I asked. "No, but the ice cream you're eating is making you be fat," my sidekick replied.

It's good to see Ron Johnson go. Maybe now JC Penney can regain its position as a leader in mid-range merchandise, great discounts, and cheerful customer service.

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