Ron Johnson: Retailing is hard, but Steve told me to trust my intuition and do the right thing

The CEO of JC Penney Ron Johnson sat with CBS “This Morning” to defend his company’s new spokesperson Ellen DeGeneres from attacks by the religious group One Million Moms that seeks to boycott the retailer if it did not axe DeGeneres over her sexual orientation. Putting the controversy aside, the interview (available on the CBS website and over at YouTube) gets interesting at mark 3:50 when Johnson reflects on his long tenure as Apple’s Vice President of Retail. The “Steve Jobs of the retail industry,” as some have dubbed him, said retailing is anything but a walk in the park:

Retailing is hard and that’s what Steve said when we started stores at Apple. But you look, you know, dozen years later and the stores are really popular with people. And they’re really popular because people know that the store cares more what the product does for them than just selling the products. At Apple, in many ways, the relationship with the customer begins when they buy.

Johnson, 53, drew parallels to how he built the Apple Stores on experience. Before joining Apple in January 2000, Johnson served as Target’s Vice President of Merchandising. He left Apple in November 2011 to take the reins at JC Penney. Apple hired CEO of Dixons John Browett as Johnson’s replacement, prompting pundits to opine how folks consider Dixons stores “the worst of Best Buy and Radio Shack combined.” When asked about the lessons he learned from Apple’s cofounder, Johnson responded:

Read more