JC Penney : Dividing to rule
Corporate information seekers are isolated and marginalised.
JC Penney, a leading US retailer, spreads corporate information across separate isolated sites.
JC Penney’s dotcom site is retail-focused and features footer links to corporate content under the heading Company Information. Clicking any of these links – careers, about us, media, investors – opens the selected corporate section in a new secondary window. All sit on separate sites or sub-domains; for example, ‘investors’ leads to ir.jcpenney.com/, while ‘media’ links to jcpmediaroom.com.
Three of the corporate sections are isolated from other corporate content, with no Company Information menu or cross-links. Only careers features a set of links to other corporate sections, and only on its home page. Content reflects the standalone development: investors and media each has its own version of the annual summary report, while there is shareholder information on the Media site.
Many companies treat their dotcom address as a sales and marketing site, excluding corporate sections from the main navigation and providing a subsidiary route to them. For major retailers such as JC Penney this has increasingly made sense as e-commerce has blossomed; what defies sense is the way it organises the various corporate sections into single strands rather than knitting them together as is common, through a common portal or degrees of cross-linking. The result is an exaggeratedly fragmented environment in which corporate information seekers other than job candidates are funnelled immediately into tight silos.
Why would JC Penney restrict cross-department browsing on its website in a way that it never would in one of its stores? Most likely it’s a sign of how the site is governed: sales and marketing runs the show and asks each corporate department to set up a site for its information in return for a link to it. None of the departments seems to be on the same ‘corporate’ floor, so they don’t talk to one another. As a result, corporate information seekers are left to feel confused, marginalised and frustrated with the site and the company.http://www.jcpenney.com/dotcom/index.jsp
First published on 26 June, 2012