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Soon after Ron Johnson left Apple to become CEO of J.C. Penney, in 2011, his team implemented a bold plan that eliminated coupons and clearance racks, filled stores with branded boutiques, and used technology to eliminate cashiers, cash registers, and checkout counters. Yet just 17 months after Johnson joined Penney, sales had plunged, losses had soared, and Johnson had lost his job. The retailer then did an about face.
How could Penney have gone so wrong? Didn't it have tons of transaction data revealing customers' tastes and preferences?
By Stefan Thomke and Jim Manzi
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