In June, J.C. Penney’s named longtime Apple retail guru Ron Johnson as its new CEO. What could a Mac-ified Penney’s look like after the man who launched a thousand Apple stores gets his hands on it? Herewith, a few possibilities—from the forward-thinking to the far-fetched—to consider before Johnson takes the helm on November 1.
In June, J.C. Penney’s named longtime Apple retail guru Ron Johnson as its new CEO. What could a Mac-ified Penney’s look like after the man who launched a thousand Apple stores gets his hands on it? Herewith, a few possibilities—from the forward-thinking to the far-fetched—to consider before Johnson takes the helm on November 1.

Alternative Reality: Imagining the iPenney Experience

The iPenney Experience
The iPenney Experience
In June, J.C. Penney’s named longtime Apple retail guru Ron Johnson as its new CEO. What could a Mac-ified Penney’s look like after the man who launched a thousand Apple stores gets his hands on it? Herewith, a few possibilities—from the forward-thinking to the far-fetched—to consider before Johnson takes the helm on November 1.
Positivity
Positivity
Adopting Apple’s ban on the use of the word “unfortunately” prevents salespeople from uttering, “Unfortunately, those jeans don’t come in mauve,” among other phrases.
Selectivity
Selectivity
Before making a purchase, customers are invited to try on a significantly reduced variety of undergarments—all tantalizingly tethered to stainless steel-topped tables.
Tracking
Tracking
Customers’ whereabouts and buying habits are documented by a GPS chip inserted in the talons of the bald eagle logo on the store’s American Living brand apparel.
Hierarchy
Hierarchy
The company drops “Concierge,” “Specialist,” and “Trainer” staffer nicknames in favor of more populist “Greeter,” “Smarty Pants,” and “Coach.”
Support
Support
For troubleshooting and hands-on diagnoses, the Designer Genius Bar is staffed by Paula Deen, the Olsen twins, Kimora Lee Simmons, and others with JCP-exclusive labels.
Learning
Learning
In-store “Getting Started” workshop series includes “Getting Started With Elastic Waist Jeans” and others, all taught by conscientious staff members.
Rollouts
Rollouts
Johnson unveils the latest PowerBig and TallPro collections himself in a much-hyped symposium setting while wearing a black turtleneck and beltless jeans. It is breathlessly covered.
Aesthetics
Aesthetics
Black, white, and silver merchandise dominates the minimalist sales floor, which has bright lights, buzzy acoustics, and Euro-Pop to encourage lingering around.
Contracts
Contracts
JCP demands customers sign a two-year agreement if they want any kind of in-store service, though service still has a habit of disappearing in the middle of a conversation.
Efficiency
Efficiency
The store introduces handheld checkout devices for all employees. Customers can also book a store appointment ahead of time to prevent waiting in endless lines.
Openness
Openness
In an effort to increase transparency, the retail chain replaces private fitting rooms with a series of glass cubes in the middle of the shopping floor. Escalators are made of glass, too.
Employees
Employees
Instead of mannequins, perky hipsters and slouchy PhD candidates looking for extra cash are hired as models; piercings, tattoos, and Pete Wentz bobs are encouraged.
Advertising
Advertising
In a new “I’m a Penney” advertising campaign, a hip, cool JCP is personified by Lady Gaga. She trades barbs with a dowdy Susan Boyle look-alike, who is cast to depict rival Kohl’s.
Tag Lines
Tag Lines
When the “I’m a Penney” ads get stale, the store unveils a new series of ads for the summer 2012 collections, including one for strappy sandals with the tag: “There’s a strap for that.”