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JCPenney Amps Up Overhaul: Shops-in-Shops, iPads, and Haircuts Are Headed Your Way

Shop-in-shops going down right in time for the back-to-school push, via JC Penney
Shop-in-shops going down right in time for the back-to-school push, via JC Penney

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Under the leadership of chief executive Ron Johnson, JCPenney is barreling ahead with the next phase of their brand overhall. The first step, if you remember, entailed tossing daily deals in favor of one promotion per month and getting rid of sales by lowering prices across the board. That change, along with the brand's new, "hipper" advertising, has led to pretty rough results so far.

Now the second push, which is scheduled to start in time for August's back to school shopping bonanza and continue through 2015, will kick off with the Johnson's ace-up-the-sleeve: shop-in-shops. Penney's is planning to divide store space among branded "boutiques," "shops," and "stores," in ascending order of size. Back in May, Johnson told Fast Company this strategy is going to be a game changer: "For decades, department stores were organized to have a center store of cosmetics, jewelry, and women's handbags," he said. "Department stores have been limited intellectually by their traditional categories of home and apparel. We can put in whatever shops we want. It liberates you to do what's relevant to people in their lives."

For the first round of shops, look forward to denim bars stocked with Arizona Jean Co., Levi's, and the new I Jeans by Buffalo. In the following months, some surprises like Lulu Guinness (what?) and Vivienne Tam. Oh, and sad about Betsey Johnson going under? Find Betseyville by Betsey Johnson at a Penney's near you soon.

And that's not all. Ron Johnson, who was last seen at Apple, Inc., is introducing mobile checkout via iPads. He will also be making, er, aesthetic improvements, such as reigning in the florescent lighting and tightening up the clusterfuck-of-mannequins-and-displays look that JCP has rocked for some time. Mannequins will be turned to face aisles, and fixtures, tables and signage will all be made cohesive to the individual branded shops. Ben Fay, executive vice president of store design, said future shops should "suggest a storefront" that will draw shoppers.

And finally, they're wrangling a certain demographic by making one of those shops a barber. Come August, Penney's will offer free haircuts at its salons for kids entering kindergarten or grade school. Aw.

· JCPenney Admits Their No-Sale Strategy Has "Driven Away Customers" [Racked]
· JCPenney Is Standing By Their Confusing No Sale Policy, Which Is Just Fine With Target and Macy's [Racked]