actorartathleteauthorbizcrimecrosspostcustomerservicedirectoredufoodgaminghealthjournalistmedicalmilmodpostmunimusicnewsworthynonprofitotherphilpolretailscispecialisedspecializedtechtourismtravelunique

RetailIamA JCPenney Associate in a dying world of retail. Any questions you have about things are done, why stores are messy, how things are on the inside, AMA!

Apr 9th 2017 by JCPAssociate • 21 Questions • 2553 Points

I've been an employee at JCPenneys for years. I have seen things change a lot and I want to clear things up to people about how the retail world is on the inside.

Proof: http://imgur.com/a/6hczB http://imgur.com/a/zzxNt

Edit 1: That's all for tonight everyone this was a lot of fun. I may continue tomorrow depending on how many and what kind of questions there are.

Edit 2: This was an awesome AMA and I had a lot of fun. I'll have to do another one of these sometime. Thanks for all the questions! I hope I cleared up some things about how retail is done from the inside. Stuff you'll never hear coming from the big guys that run the show.

Q:

As a fellow retail worker, you have my sympathies, friend.

Question is this: Who has been your most frustrating nemesis of a customer/coworker?

A:

coworker: this one guy we had that had a sever attitude problem. He would come in an hour late and leave 2 hours early and complain about not making any money and when he would get mad over the simplest of things he would break things. The guy was strong and like 7 feet tall so they kept him around and just let him do whatever because he was our, no, he was THEE heavy lifter for anything that needed moved or put up high in the stockroom. He finally had enough one day and walked out.

frustrating nemesis of a customer: definitely the older lady couponers that dont understand we cant stack 6 coupons on 1 item to make it free especially when they dont read restrictions on coupons and try that on Nike and such. Some are understanding and upset a little, but then some go all King Kong and want Supervisors to tell them the same thing.


Q:

How many times has your store been rearranged in the past two years? JCP seems to change their layout and brand image and they seem to panic if something doesn't work and they immediately shelve it (pun not intended) but this just seems to cause confusion to consumers IMO. Do you think JCP needs further change (maybe a guy who is great with mannequins and window design) or should they try to change to a more online merchandise distributor?

A:

The reason that things change around in the store every single time you go in there is because we get new stuff in all the time on trucks. For example we get bikini's starting in November or early December and get coats starting around June. We have to move all of this out to the sales floor in one massive department set to uphold a visual standard that the company sets. They have a test store to set a visual appeal for what goes on what table and where and what goes on the mannequins and colors and everything and they send that to us and when we do these sets we have to match that as best as possible or get chewed out by district management for not upholding JCP core standards. Your right though the way we do it by moving 2 departments a week is INCREDIBLY confusing to customers and workers and our Operations team cant find where merchandise goes half the time because it will be different every day. The entire concept is just as much opinion based so if one person moves something and someone else doesnt like it they will redo it. We have had our store manager make us move a department and the next day she didnt like it and we moved everything back. It's an incredible waste of time and money in my opinion but they see it as if they mvoe things customers will venture to find them which is opportunity for them to find more along the way and spend more money as well as getting trend zones set for things like prom or back-to-school. I wish so badly we would find a hard-set layout for things and work it as is and things would probably go smoother. We have so much merchandise on the floor people in wheelchairs cant get around easy if at all in some areas and we still have full stockrooms. We need more control over what inventory we get in as we have no control over what the Store Support Centers send us on trucks. I think our online is fine right now and they need to focus more on the physical locations because those keep closing more and more and we arent opening new stores to combat that so we just keep losing more and more money. The number one complaint from customers and employees is how much our stores move around merchandise. It becomes stressful when you go to stock a handful of belts that come in and the belt fixture is on a totally different carpeted pad area two or three times a week.


Q:

Thank you for your well thought out answer.

A:

any time, glad to help!


Q:

Why aren't Levi jeans arranged by numerical order?

A:

That my friend is a great question we ask almost every time we readjust the shop. They try and set it to where the best sellers are the easiest to get to or see such as the 501's and the 505's.


Q:

I had a professor who says JCP is one of the best shops in terms of treatment of workers at their factories and quality of product. That makes me feel good about shopping there. But is it true?

A:

Management and coworkers treat you like family. They will work with you very well and they believe in 'family-first'. If you have an emergency situation they will help you. Our stores General Manager has bought us all dinner before. Even our district management is friendly and brings treats sometimes when they come. Very good people to work with. They root out the bad eggs pretty fast actually.


Q:

Was it noticeable when consumers stopped coming in?

A:

Yes, but it's more noticeable how much they have cut down on staffing because of it. The people I work with are amazing people, but the environment we work in has changed considerably in just a short time. Our store is one of the higher performing so we still do well but even then it is noticeable and I cant imagine how it is at stores that do bad.


Q:

Have you ever been in a branch as it was being shut down? What was the general reactions of the employees if so?

A:

I have not. The store I work in does extremely well in the company and ours would probably be one of the last to close, but I still see the effects it has had on our store. We have customers call and ask all the time if we are closing and management tries to get us not to talk about it a lot to quiet the subject but it's a looming fear you have while working there. In January our CEO stated that we only had 4 stores in the company under-performing and very shortly after that was when he announced they were gonna close like 140 stores to try and push our online sales more. What's scary is that he is trying to compete more in the field dominated by Amazon and anyone that works retail knows that the bread and butter of our customer base is the old ladies that dont like online shopping.


Q:

Glad to hear that your branch is stable, the one near where I live just shut down a month or two ago.

A:

I feel sorry for the ones that lose their jobs, they told us that for the stores that close they will try and relocate workers to other stores but that's most often way too far of a commute for a different store. We already have some older lady dedicated customers that drive over 1 hour to come to our store because they like it.


Q:

I once tried on a pair of khakis and found dirty underwear in the pocket, why did you do this to me?

A:

That was probably a customer that returned it and no one checked the pockets. Women have a tendency to take underwear into the fitting rooms and try it on and leave it for the workers to put back, we can not sell used underwear.


Q:

They were mens pants, and a fancy sexy woman underwear. I'm still convinced it was you personally who did it.

A:

haha, no if I had sexy woman underwear I would keep it for myself. I get paid to care, not to share.


Q:

Why are the dotcom workers looked down on by the rest of the retail staff?

A:

because the rest of the staff doesnt do dotcom and typically judge that the dotcom workers dont do as much actual work. There's a lot of work they do behind the desk though. Sometimes it is true however and some dotcom workers really dont want to be out straightening and doing stuff in other parts of the store. The sales floor staff is most usually understaffed while still being kept to a standard of running register, getting you all to sign up for credit cards, cleaning out the fitting rooms every half hour, straightening up the entire department, while normally having side projects to do on top of that. The people that do that look at the dotcom staff and see that they do a few transactions and get orders out of the back and that's about it.


Q:

I just know from people that were in that department that they were constantly moving pallets of boxes and unboxing, quickly scouring the store in search of items, doing tons of order related things, having to run out packages, and of course dealing with unruly customers on the phone. Then the majority of the other workers treated them like they did nothing. I guess it makes sense that they don't see the actual tasks they do. Still crappy though..

A:

Yeah they do a lot more than it looks like from the outside. It's kind of like that in every area though the Operations team looks down on the sales floor because "all they do is run a register" and the sales floor team looks down on the Ops team because "all they do is throw stacks of shirts on a table". I have worked in every area of the store so I can see the pros and cons for every zone but most people that havent can be judgemental of others areas of work. Ops team deals with an unrealistic and difficult workload, Sales Floor deals with all kinds of customers and the maintenance of how well the store looks. For it to work well it has to run like a well oiled machine and not all do unfortunately.


Q:

Is it really just online business, or that people don't have enough disposable income like their parent's generation? I buy all my clothes either thrift, after Christmas sales, and I keep clothes for years. Most my friends are the same way. And I grew up in "mall culture" where we would spend weekends at the mall, spending lots of money. I don't see that at all.

A:

I think it's a bit of both. The world is changing in a weird way. Even though I work at Penneys and get a discount I still barely buy anything there and aim for clearance items when I do, but once your buying stuff on clearance for like a dollar or two were not making money on that we are just taking what we can get so we can make space for new items.


Q:

Do you have a furniture department in your store, and does it do well? The JC Penny here single handedly forced our furniture store to drop Klaussner because Penny's sells it at stupid low margin.

A:

We dont have a furniture store here but I imagine if we did it wouldnt do well. There is another retailer here with a big furniture area and it's a ghost town in that part.


Q:

Serious question. It seems like the clothes at JC Penney are really poor in style and often in quality. Who decides what clothes get purchased for retail display?

EDIT: Not trying to rip on JCP. If it makes any difference, let me point out that Sears is WAY worse.

A:

JCPenney is a brand name with tenure. They partner with different manufactures to sell their clothes so poor quality is often just the partner in general. However JCP does have their own private brands that they try to hide to cover that up such as A.N.A. and Stylus. Stylus is actually the exact same as the older brand just called JCP. It's the exact same. I feel sorry for people losing their jobs at Sears.


Q:

What would you do when they let you go?

A:

They would pull you into the office with whoever is doing it and explain to you why they are terminating your employment and for what reason. What gets intense is when employees steal and then the manager calls them in to the office and little do they know there's a cop on the way.

If they let you go then you apply like crazy.


Q:

Are you ever jealous of the dotcom workers?

A:

Not me, I've done everything in the store including cash office. Dotcom workers deal with UPC numbers more than I like to and trying to find packages and call people and such. Working on Operations was probably my favorite area, you do all the fun stuff there. Working register isnt bad though because you get to meet all sorts of people and everyone has a different story to tell.


Q:

How was it in terms of hourly payment? What did you start off at? How were raised determined?

A:

It's a minimum wage job, when I first started JCP paid above minimum wage and raises were once a year and mostly determined by how long you were there so basically you could get a raise worth 12 months of service each year but when they bumped up minimum wage your raises did not stack on the new base pay so after having a few raises now I'm back to making minimum wage.


Q:

The constant pushing me and my wife about signing up for the in-store credit card was a huge reason we stopped shopping there. Can you please pass along the message to the higher ups that this method is an absolute turn off?

A:

We try to pass it along but it's how the company makes money and the companies religion is making money. Trust me associates hate that they have to harass every customer about it but if we dont get one person a day to sign up then we get scolded about it. Only so many people are gonna want to sign up for a credit card and they only keep raising the goal for the day all the time.


Q:

Do they still do the enployee night every year just before Christmas?

A:

Yeah we have parties and such and they treat us to good foods. Especially on Black Friday.


Q:

1 - Why are you saying retail is dying?

2 - Do you know whether JCPenney would have branches in Mexico City? I mean, we Mexicans have Sears all over the country and a pair of SaksFifthAvenue's in Mexico City; but I would like to see more foreign retail stores here.

A:

Physical retail is dying. Things like Amazon is hurting that bad. Why go out and drive to several different stores and spend all that time and gas when you could sit on a computer for a few minutes and order everything you need to survive. I like the experience of shopping and enjoying myself but at the same time I enjoy going to Amazon and ordering what I want for cheaper and having it come right to my door. Its already put our Sears under and they just closed a week ago and although I dont believe JCPenneys is gonna close all down this month or this year, I dont see it picking up from where it's at now. I think if they expanded stores to Mexico it would probably do well since there are none there now it would be a nice new thing. It all depends on how our CEO does things though. Most of the people higher up in the company went to college and got degrees in how to run places like this and they have never worked a day in the actual store on our level doing what we do.