A glimpse at the man J. C. Penney Co. hired as its new chief information officer provides a clue about the value retailers place on technology today.
Thomas M. Nealon, who starts to work at Penney’s in October, was top gun in the transformation of Southwest Airlines’ technology — including customer interactions — when he worked for a company called EDS. Before that, he worked for an IT management consultant firm, and before that he was chief information officer at Frito-Lay.
His job description at Penney’s indicates he will lead the development of systems for jcp.com, “the billion-dollar e-commerce site that serves as the hub of the company’s multichannel retailing strategy linking stores, catalog and the Internet.”
“Why,” you may be asking, “should I care?” Because if you are a retailer competing for business in today’s environment, you had better have an Internet presence, even if it’s just the simplest of Web sites telling customers where your store is, what you sell, what your hours are and why they might be interested in what you are selling.
Even if today’s customers don’t buy online, they frequently start their shopping trips online by searching out stores they may want to visit.
Take a cue from a venerable name in retailing — one that began long before anybody ever dreamed of anything remotely akin to the Internet. If a giant the size of Penney’s can dance to the techno beat, then perhaps you should too.
Coming up in Retail Strategies: More about layaway.