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J.C. Penney plots e-commerce comeback


Can JC Penny pull off a come back? They seem to be headed in the right direction.


J.C. Penney [fortune-stock symbol=”JCP”] was once an e-commerce trailblazer. And now the department store operator, still recovering from a catastrophic sales decline in 2012, says it has a plan to reclaim that mantle.

The retailer launched into e-commerce almost 20 years ago, well before its main rivals: by 2007 web sales had reached $1.5 billion, way more than Macy’s [fortune-stock symbol=”M”] and Kohl’s [fortune-stock symbol=”KSS”].

But Penney frittered away that edge, the decline self-inflicted. The worst missteps were former CEO Ron Johnson’s focus in 2012 on a failed re-imagining of the 114-year-old retailer into a hipper store, along with the ill-advised separation of Penney’s e-commerce and stores teams, a strategy that flew in the face of every other retailer’s efforts.

The results were breathtaking: e-commerce sales fell by 33% in 2012, and Penney’s $1 billion loss that year left it hamstrung financially at a time the likes of Macy’s, Nordstrom…

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