JC Penney CEO responsible for marketing cuts leaves for Lowe’s

The CEO at JC Penney is leaving the struggling department store chain to take a new gig at Lowe’s. Marvin Ellison, who joined Plano, Texas-based JC Penney four years ago and has recently reduced marketing expenses for the brand, is staying on until June 1. The next day, he’ll assume responsibilities as chief executive of Lowe’s Co., in Mooresville, N.C. The current leader of Lowe’s, Robert Niblock, is retiring.

Investors reacted swiftly, sending JC Penney shares down 6 percent in Tuesday morning trading. The stock is currently trading near $2.35. Last week, JC Penney reported disappointing first-quarter earnings, with comparable store sales up only 0.2 percent.

Ellison, a former Home Depot executive, took over JC Penney at a time when the retailer was suffering the aftereffects of a reinvention disaster led by former CEO Ron Johnson, who eliminated coupons and ostracized core JC Penney shoppers. While Ellison is credited with helping the brand regain some of its sales in a difficult shopping environment, he has also been reducing marketing expenses in recent months. Last week, on an earnings call to announce first-quarter sales, Ellison said the company has been shifting more dollars into digital in order to be more nimble.

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Marketplaces: Embrace or Maneuver Around. Ignore? Peril

Sextants: Rarely seen nor part of everyday life. But there is no instrument more pure or more technically perfect. Not requiring a physical connection to anything, the sextant is complete and never imprecise. Its ability to see and reveal raw truth, data if you will, is its power. Over hundreds of years, its navigational abilities have created freedom, provided safety, inspired unrelenting discovery as well as crushing failures and led to unimaginable wealth.

Such is the land of marketplaces too. Not created by Amazon, Alibaba or other emerging players, but by the Persian culture. A marketplace or a bazaar’s purpose has always been to connect needs and desires with those who can fulfill them. To thrive as a merchant requires a vigilant balance and knowledge of one’s customers and the products sold. This has not changed, tax nexus, GDPR and privacy be damned.

Like the purity of information from a sextant, customer insights and needsfrom both the customers you already have as well as the ones you wantshould be the primary constant driving a brand’s decision about its marketplace investments. Customers are the ones we serve and need to understand. Harsh as it might be to revenues and profits in the short term, this is what will sustain growth. With research, media analysis and tracking technologies, we can know a good deal.

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Amazon draws fire for selling face recognition to law enforcement

The ACLU and civil rights groups are demanding that Amazon stop selling its face software to the government.

Amazon’s facial recognition technology, Rekognition, is raising concern among privacy advocates. The American Civil Liberties Union and other civil rights groups have issued a letter calling out the potential for abuse of the system among law enforcement, and asking Amazon to stop selling it to government agencies. Additionally, the letter highlights a lack of oversight of how technology like this is being used.

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