J.C. Penney adopts poison pill as protection against hostile takeovers
Plano, Texas — J.C. Penney Co. isn’t taking any chances. The retailer on Thursday announced it has adopted a one-year shareholder’s rights plan to protect itself against any future hostile takeover efforts.
The chain said the provisions of the plan will be effective until Aug. 20, 2014, unless rights are redeemed or exchanged for shares of its common stock on an earlier date. In its statement, Penney said the plan would be set into action if a person or group acquires 10% or more of the company’s shares or commences a tender or exchange offer that would result in someone owning more than that portion of the shares.
Penney said the plan wasn’t adopted in response to any effort to take control of the company. However, its adoption follows a public feud earlier this month between Penney’s board and activist investor William Ackman, the chain’s largest shareholder. Ackman, whose Pershing Square Capital Management owns nearly 18% of Penney, has since resigned from the board. Most recently, he hinted he might sell his stock.
This is the second time in recent years that Penney has put into place a “poison pill” plan.
Penney said that the plan does not include “certain affiliates of Pershing Square Capital Management, L.P. or certain affiliates of Vornado Realty Trust so long as such party’s beneficial ownership is permitted under such party’s letter agreements with the company.”
Accenture study reveals disconnect between CIOs and CMOs
New York — A disconnect between chief marketing officers and chief information officers threatens the ability of companies to deliver effective customer experiences, according to a new study by Accenture. Only one-in-10 of executives believing collaboration between CMOs and CIOs is currently at the right level.
The study, “The CMO-CIO Disconnect,” reveals that CIOs appear to be more committed to greater collaboration than CMOs. More than three out of four CIOs surveyed – 77% – agree that CMO-CIO alignment is important, compared to 57% of CMOs in the survey.
However, despite CIOs appearing more open to engaging with CMOs, only 45% of CIOs say that supporting marketing is near or at the top of their list of priorities.
Regarding the use of technology, CMOs and CIOs agree that technology is essential to marketing and that its primary purpose is to gain access to customer insight and intelligence (60% of CMOs and 73% of CIOs). But while CMOs claim that gaining customer insight is their number one motivator for collaborating with IT, CIOs rank this tenth on their list of reasons to work together. CIOs’ top motivation for collaborating is to improve the customer experience, which CMOs rank as their third most important motivator.
According to the Accenture report, CMOs and CIOs should consider taking the following actions to strengthen their alignment and improve collaboration:
- The CMO should be identified as the Chief Experience Officer and IT should be looked at as a strategic partner with marketing and not just as a platform provider.
- The skills mix in both organizations should be updated whereby the marketing department would become more tech savvy and the IT organization would become more agile and responsive to market demands.
- Both teams should agree on key business levers and embrace tools, processes and platforms to understand consumer intent and unlock consumer value.
“The CMO and CIO continue to work in silos, but now more than ever bridging the gap between those two organizations is critical for success,” said Brian Whipple, global managing director of Accenture Interactive. “With today’s multichannel consumer seeking highly relevant experiences and with digital and analytics platforms emerging to help companies, respond, marketing and IT executives must work more closely together.
“C-suite decision makers face a variety of challenges when collaborating, ranging from a lack of trust to differing business goals. These issues must be resolved to turn a company’s digital marketing capabilities into a platform for market differentiation, business growth, and profitability.”
The study was based on a survey of 400 senior marketing and 250 information technology executives in 10 countries.
The Real Measure of the Digitized Store: Human Interaction, Community and Connection
By John Bajorek, wdpartners.com
It’s easy to get sidetracked by tactics when rethinking retail design and conceptualizing the store of the future. It’s easier still to grow enamored of the potential of technology and consumer data to transform every aspect of the in-store experience.
Undoubtedly, online retailers have an outsized advantage in their ability to aggregate consumer data and present tailored, personalized offers and merchandise. Online shopping has also radically altered consumer expectations, especially among Millennials, who value the “unlimited options” of the online model above all other features of the shopping experience.
So, yes, store brands must adapt to these two converging trends. But every decision about integrating digital technologies into the store experience shouldn’t be based on what’s technically possible, but what’s desirable among consumers.
Before allocating massive resources rolling out digital technologies inside the store of the future, retailers should first ask themselves these three questions:
1. Does this technology enable human interaction or diminish it?
Mobile life means never having to actually talk to a human being, but mobile life is also isolating. Yes, social media is social, but it’s often not satisfying emotionally. How can retailers tap into this latent dissatisfaction, the lonely malaise of the Millennial-mobile generation and appeal to the human need for authentic connection?
For starters, digital technologies should complement or enhance human interactions, not replace them. If a digital technology is intended as a way to cut payroll or limit the role of store associates, it should be heavily scrutinized. In-store digital technologies should mediate human interactions and make purchase and selection more fluid. Think associates armed with iPads to close online orders, or handheld scanning devices to look up other color or size options. The store experience should always offer a space for authentic, human interactions.
2. Does this technology create community or disrupt it?
The pervasiveness of social media in our culture reflects the fundamental human need for connection, a sense of place; a way to navigate one’s place in the world and relationship with peers, family and society at large. For Millennials, this need has been supercharged, with almost every social interaction, purchase and entertainment experience mediated through digital platforms.
Internet technologies are altering the way people define and seek out community. Yet, for the most part, retailers have failed to bring this powerful emotional lever into the store environment. Among Millennials, peer influence impacts purchase behavior more than among other generations. Unlike Boomers and Generation X shoppers, they rank “customer reviews” as the second most appealing feature of online shopping, more influential over purchase behavior than “see and touch” and “instant ownership.”
3. Does this technology creep people out?
The wired store should exploit the power of big data, but tread carefully when integrating it into the personal interactions customers have with associates.
The era of a faceless store environment in which customers were neglected and no one knew anyone’s name is waning, but integrated customer recognition should never veer into Minority-Report creepy.
Amazon has perfected granular customer knowledge about past purchases for driving future purchase, but “you might also like” is far subtler than a store associate bringing up an underwear purchase from six months ago. Brands have learned to respect consumer privacy or face the consequences within the online shopping model. It’s expected today that online shoppers are in control and can easily opt-in, unsubscribe and opt-out. When it comes to utilizing customer data inside the store, the same standard of consumer control applies. Consumers should determine to what degree past shopping behavior influences a present-day shopping experience.
John Bajorek is VP digital services at WD Partners, a global design firm.