Opportunity: Better price tags
There has been a lot of buzz about changes in the offing by JC Penney's ( JCP) new CEO, Ron Johnson, the former Apple executive credited with the phenomenal success of its retail stores. The retail chain has a new logo, stole Martha Stewart away from Macy's ( M), hired Ellen DeGeneres as a spokeswoman and is embarking on a redesign to give stores a more "town square" feel. Johnson is also revising the way the stores price merchandise, doing away with the haphazard way items were put on sale and moving closer to a Wal-Mart ( WMT)-inspired "everyday low prices" strategy. One of the small moves that may prove to be a big hit: a redo of the price tags that dangle from items. The aesthetics of a price tag may seem like the tiniest of concerns for a CEO, but consider this: The JC Penney modus operandi has always been to keep sticking red sale stickers on top of the tags, then sticking new stickers on top of them and so on and so on. The result is a sloppy tag that has two drawbacks: First and foremost, it signals that JC Penney is more low-rent than upscale. No shopper expects this to be Nordstrom, but they also don't want it to exude the aura of a Family Dollar ( FDO) store. Secondly, on a psychological level, it gives shoppers an impression that markdowns come fast and furious. Why buy today, when something is bound to be even cheaper tomorrow? It is a cat and mouse game the retailer can't win. So, yes, that tiniest of details -- the price tag -- can make a big difference.