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Top Retail Execs Weigh In on the Customer
Don’t take former J.C. Penney Co. Inc. chief executive officer Ron Johnson’s absence from the Milken Institute Global Conference panel on retailing in a digital world as evidence that the executives who did appear totally disagreed with his reinvention strategy.
Although Johnson was only alluded to during Monday’s discussion at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, the panelists — especially HSN ceo Mindy Grossman and Claire’s Stores Inc. ceo Jim Fielding — emphasized the idea that enhanced and curated shopping experiences — not just price alone — will help keep traditional retailers relevant as e-commerce continues to boom. Without explicitly saying so, the panelists’ underlying messages suggested support for the rationale behind Johnson’s efforts, if not his execution.
“In order for people to thrive in this new environment, they really have to focus more on experience,” said Grossman, beginning the discussion. She disavowed the idea that retailers should think in terms of different channels in order to maximize that experience. “We don’t even use the word ‘channel’ any more. I think it’s antiquated,” she said, preferring to talk more about “creating networks.”
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