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JCPenney To Increase Ecommerce Focus

Posted by Michael Bloch in ecommerce (Tuesday January 25, 2011 )

While some major retailers complain about the effect of the Internet on their bricks and mortar operations, others are seeing opportunity – like JCPenney.

The company has announced it will be closing a bunch of “real world” stores and a few other actions to realize savings of up to $30 million a year; which they’ll then plow back into other avenues, including their online operations.

JCPenney operates over 1,100 department stores throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. With it’s roots stretching back to 1902, it’s been an exception to the rule when it comes to the Internet; a big business with its roots very firmly in physical stores, yet seemed to have embraced online retailer with a passion earlier than most.

Meanwhile, in Australia, some retailers are still whingeing about the effect online sales, particularly overseas purchases, are having on their businesses – including one that (if memory serves me correct) didn’t see the Internet as a threat or important a few years back.

I remember the weird looks I would get when I would describe how the Internet would change things for business here; to the point I (virtually) abandoned Australia to focus on the U.S. market. That was back in 2000/2001. Nearly a decade has gone by and much has changed, however, there are still many business leaders with old world thinking who aren’t keeping up with their customers who are more than happy to shop online – and if they can’t buy an item from a local merchant, they are quite happy to virtually shop overseas.

The rallying cry of loss of jobs due to the trend is just a smokescreen – people wailed about computers taking jobs and if anything, the uptake of technology has created more employment.

I do feel for the employees who will be affected by the action resulting from the announcement, but JCPenney’s move is also another signal to people in the workforce to re-skill if necessary or to add to their skill set. Back in the early 90’s, I didn’t know how to use a computer and didn’t even want to know. Then in the mid-90’s I realized I would need to know the basics to secure a decent job. It was the smartest move I ever made.


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