Q&A at the NRF: J.C. Penney’s CEO Discusses Multichannel Evolution
Catalog Success Editor in Chief Paul Miller caught up with J.C. Penney Chairman/CEO Myron “Mike” Ullman during last week’s National Retail Federation convention in New York. Ullman touched on several topics, including Penney’s multichannel advances and its ability to thrive while other big book catalog retailers were forced to redefine themselves over the years.
Catalog Success: How do you see the role of your big book catalog changing?
Ullman: We have a number of specialty catalogs and that’s where our growth has been. Our big book is still important; it still plays a role, especially among our more loyal customers, and it’s still successful.
Catalog Success: How is your Web site evolving?
Ullman: Over the past year, it has evolved more, becoming more lifestyle oriented. But it was successful from the beginning because we already had the catalog. Some other advances, such as blogs, however, are not a direction of ours, because it remains a successful commerce site.
Catalog Success: You’ve outlasted the other old-time general merchandise big book cataloger/retailers like Sears and Montgomery Ward: How?
Ullman: We have a very experienced management team running our catalog and Internet. When [Penney Executive Vice President/ JCPenney Direct President] John Irvin and his team came in with the [catalog and Internet marketing] experience they had; They found ways that were no longer successful in assortment planning and merchandising and changed them appropriately.
Catalog Success: How are you able to mold your customers from one or two of your channels to the other(s)?
Ullman: We installed 35,000 point of sale [Internet terminals] in our stores a year ago for customers to find what they couldn’t find in the stores they were in. These [terminals] help them find products either in other stores or on our site.