Harvard Business Review tells us about former Apple Senior Vice President of Retail Operations and current J.C. Penney CEO Ron Johnson's attempts to rebuild the department store into something new:
... Johnson aims to create 80 to 100 highly-branded "stores within a store" (e.g. a Martha Stewart boutique). Channeling the spirit of Apple's Genius Bar, every J.C. Penney will also have a "Town Square" offering complimentary services to customers as well as promotions such as free hot dogs and ice cream in July.
The lynchpin of J.C. Penney's revitalization is a new "Fair and Square Every Day" pricing strategy. The plan stems from Johnson's realization that three-quarters of everything sold at J.C. Penney is typically sold at a 50% discount from list price. Instead of using deep discount sales to attract customers, starting this week the chain will simply offer three prices: (1) "Every Day", (2) "Month Long Value" (theme sales such as back-to-school related products in August), and (3) "Best Prices" (clearance). Prices will also now end in "0" instead of "99" and price tags will list just one price (instead of including the de rigueur "previously sold at a higher price" convention).
When I was a kid, Sears tried to do away with sales, pushing an everyday low prices angle. It was a New Coke-level disaster that lasted, if I recall correctly, much less than a year. Is this re-imagining destined for the same fate? Or is Johnson going to redesign the department store for the 21st century? Is this the first real attempt to make brick-and-mortar stores something that the internet can't replicate? It's up to you to decide, Slog!