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JC Penney Wants To Replace Cash Registers and Checkout Clerks With Automated Machines

J.C. Penney storefront
SCott Olson / Getty Images

JC Penney has been around for more than 100 years after opening their first store in Wyoming. The company’s financial struggles are well known and some of their solutions have customers shaking their heads. The most recent change was the elimination of sales and coupons, which did not go over very well with customers, and so far has been very unsuccessful.

JC Penney’s latest idea is to replace cash registers and checkout clerks with automated checkout. This plan is similar to the one used in Apple retail stores which are virtually cash register free and was created by former Apple retail CEO Ron Johnson who is now – wait for it – the current CEO of JC Penney!

Johnson’s plan to do away with cash registers involves replacing them with several types of technology like WiFi networks, mobile checkout and RFID (radio frequency identification), which essentially tracks merchandise in the store. Have you ever used self-checkout at Wal-Mart or Schnucks’s? I can tell you first hand – it is pain in the butt and you usually need an associate to help you – not a good idea.

Penney’s customers are leery of this plan and current employees are REALLY nervous that they will lose their jobs. Johnson says the plan is to keep the former checkout clerks so they can help better serve the customers and provide more efficient customer service… yeah, right!

Do you really want to have an employee scan your credit card into an iPad Touch? I don’t. Whatever happened to dealing with real people? It is bad enough that you can’t call a business anymore without going through an automated nightmare that takes forever to get you to someone who can actually help you.

I don’t know about you, but the idea of being charged for a purchase through electronic cyberspace scares me to death. Good luck finding someone to help answer a question or tell you where to find an item. They hope to have this in place by 2014. Black Friday Christmas shopping should barrels of fun under this plan.


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