Senate Passes $250 Billion Bill to Foster Manufacturing, Tech

The Senate passed a bipartisan bill in a 63-32 vote this week that allocates $250 billion for technology R&D to counter foreign competition, primarily from China. The U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) intends to boost research investment, build semiconductor manufacturing capacity and focus on AI development. The National Science Foundation (NSF) will also play a more significant role. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) stated the bill is “about investing in that innovation economy of the future.” It still needs to pass the House. Continue reading Senate Passes $250 Billion Bill to Foster Manufacturing, Tech Startup Brings a Personal Touch to Online Retail

Ron Johnson, a former retail exec with Apple and J.C. Penney, has launched a Web-only startup to offer a new twist on online retail. Menlo Park-based Enjoy Technology will begin offering high-end consumer electronics in select locations today via its website, The site will sell smartphones, laptops, tablets, drones, and more — in addition to offering free delivery and in-home setup service. Johnson expects that the in-home service will give Enjoy an advantage over established rivals such as Amazon and eBay. Continue reading Startup Brings a Personal Touch to Online Retail

Former Apple Retail Chief Gets Ready to Help Online Shoppers

Ron Johnson, a former executive at J.C. Penney and Target and the man behind Apple’s successful retail stores, is now leading a new company into the future of shopping. The startup is called Enjoy, and most of its plans are still under lock, but Johnson suggests the company is trying to change the way online shoppers connect with new products. Enjoy’s service, which may bring a little more human touch to the process of choosing products, is scheduled to launch next year. Continue reading Former Apple Retail Chief Gets Ready to Help Online Shoppers

Retail Strategy: Exec Discusses What He Learned Building the Apple Stores

  • Ron Johnson, the new CEO of J.C. Penny and the former SVP of retail for Apple, talks about what he learned building the Apple Stores, the leading U.S. retailer with sales of $5,626 per square foot, nearly double the sales of Tiffany & Co, its closest competitor.
  • People come to the Apple Store for the experience, the most important part of which is the staff. The philosophy is NOT focused on selling, but on building relationships and making the customer’s life better, a model that worked for Apple.
  • “The staff is exceptionally well trained, and they’re not on commission, so it makes no difference to them if they sell you an expensive new computer or help you make your old one run better so you’re happy with it,” explains Johnson. “Their job is to figure out what you need and help you get it, even if it’s a product Apple doesn’t carry. Compare that with other retailers where the emphasis is on cross-selling and upselling and, basically, encouraging customers to buy more, even if they don’t want or need it.”
  • The Apple model is not easy, and has required persistence. The Genius Bar, for example, was not popular in the beginning, but Apple stuck with it as the best way to help customers. “Three years after the Genius Bar launched, it was so popular we had to set up a reservation system,” writes Johnson.