Michael (Mike) Amend

Michael (Mike) Amend
EVP, Omnichannel
J. C. Penney Company, Inc.

Last Updated: 01/02/2018

Executive Summary

Mike Amend was appointed as Executive Vice President of Omnichannel for JCPenney in August 2015. Prior to joining JCPenney, he served as Vice President of Online, Mobile and Omnichannel for The Home Depot. Before Home Depot, Amend held various leadership roles at Dell, BEA Systems and Sprint Corporation.

Personal Attributes and Interests

  • Amend says that causes he cares about include children, education, science and technology.

Current Focus

  • Launch Subscription Box Service: In December 2017, JC Penney partnered with Bombfell to offer a line of boxes that will cater to the big and tall male customer, Chain Store Age reported. It’s a demographic, the company noted, that has been growing in recent years. “We thought this was a good first start … for the next few months we are going to learn as well,” said a company spokeswoman. “The benefit of learning with Bombfell is they are the ones who have the platform and the means of doing this, and we also have a large big and tall customer base.” Amend said, “Customers view subscription boxes selected by a stylist as “a new form of convenience. Men want to be stylish, too, but everyone is busy and starved for time. Here’s a better way: They receive a shipment that’s trend right, personalized and in season.”
  • Key Growth Initiatives: During the company’s August 2017 earnings call, CEO Marvin Ellison told analysts, “…while we remain focused on our strategic framework of private brands, omnichannel and increasing revenue per customer, I'd like to discuss the key growth initiatives that give us confidence in our ability to continue delivering improved sales, profitability, and delivering our earnings expectations for the back half of 2017.
    • First, our beauty categories continue to deliver positive sales results and one of our key components of beauty is our best-in-class partnership with Sephora. We now operate over 600 Sephora inside JCPenney shops and we opened a total of 70 locations in 2017. And in the third quarter, 38 of these new locations will open. This will allow us to end the year with nearly 650 locations and at that time, we'll have Sephora shops in approximately 75% of our stores. We're also excited to announce that Fenty Beauty by Rihanna will be launching this quarter and will be exclusive to both Sephora and Sephora inside JCPenney. We believe this new launch will drive incremental sales and foot traffic to our Sephora inside JCPenney shops in the second half of the year. Another component of our beauty strategy is salon and JCPenney salon business remains a key component of our beauty strategy and we see continued benefits in rebranding to Salon by InStyle. In addition to rebranding, we're focused on the enhancing of our digital and mobile scheduling platform as well as hiring talented stylists. And as a reminder, our salon customers shop the stores twice as often per year as our non-salon customers. So we see the salon rebranding as a tremendous customer acquisition strategy. And our fine jewelry business had another strong quarter of delivering positive comps. We're the only retailer that can offer the combination of Sephora, salon and fine jewelry under the same roof, and at JCPenney, we're creating a unique beauty experience that cannot be replicated online and one that brings theater and excitement to our physical stores.
    • Second, our home refresh initiatives continue to provide strong results. We delivered positive comps in our home division for the second quarter. As we continue to drive market share gains in this category, we're excited to announce we've signed a new partnership with Electrolux home appliances, and through Electrolux, we will be carrying a complete line of kitchen appliances from Frigidaire later this quarter. Adding Frigidaire to our assortment gives us the ability to drive business-to-business sales with one of the industry's best opening price point brands. We're also extremely excited about the expanded footprint of mattress to our assortment. In the second quarter, mattresses delivered significant comp growth and we are well on the way with the roll-out of over 300 in-store mattress showrooms. Our assortment will include perception-shifting national brands such as Tempur-Pedic, Sealy, Serta, Stearns & Foster, Simmons, and Beautyrest. The store expansion roll-out will give us a total of just over 500 stores with mattress showrooms by Labor Day.
    • And third, we're committed to becoming a world-class omnichannel retailer. We continue to significantly increase online SKUs, and we have plans for continued SKU expansion throughout 2017. We recently announced that all online orders will ship free to our stores with no minimum threshold required. We are confident that this new strategy will drive incremental customer footsteps to our stores. We are well on our way to creating a best-in-class omnichannel business here at JCPenney. Our buy online, pick up in-store same-day initiative remains critical to our omnichannel strategy. And today, approximately 80% of the stores' existing inventory is eligible for free same-day pickup. This is a tremendous milestone given that we introduced this feature just one year ago in July with a limited number of SKUs eligible when we launched. As we now drive more online customers into the store, we'll continue to minimize our last-mile delivery costs and drive meaningful traffic to our stores.
    • And fourth, we're finding new categories and opportunities to grow our business. The toy industry is a $20 billion industry today and continues to grow, and after a great customer response to testing toys last holiday season, we confidently made the decision to open toy shops in all go-forward store locations in time for back-to-school. These new toy shops will drive increased traffic and sales in-store and online as we continue to focus on increasing revenue per customer.
    • And lastly, we continue to improve and strategically adjust our apparel categories with an emphasis on fixing our women's apparel business. In the past, JCPenney has been over-assorted in traditional women's clothing and under-assorted in casual and contemporary women's clothing. In the second quarter, we took aggressive steps to liquidate some of the less desirable apparel inventory to make room for the expansion of the more casual and contemporary women's apparel being launched for back-to-school and the fall season. And the first step in converting women's apparel to a more casual environment was to increase our penetration in activewear, and we're accomplishing this by expanding our relationship with Nike and Adidas, while providing our customers a great opening price point option with our activewear private brand, Xersion. We have a great partnership with two of the leading activewear brands in the world, and our recent results reflect that our customers are positively responding to our expanded assortment of activewear. The next step is to offer our female customers a trend-right contemporary offering that fits for a busy lifestyle. We're addressing this need with our recently announced exclusive partnership with legendary footwear designer, Libby Edelman. Libby will bring an exclusive collection of apparel, contemporary shoes, handbags and accessories to JCPenney. Libby's products will be available in 500 stores and at jcpenney.com. And in an effort to continue the expansion of our contemporary assortment, we recently announced the launch of first ever Project Runway brand inspired by the Emmy-nominated show and its talented group of design contestants.
    • Finally, we're leveraging our private brands and design and sourcing infrastructure to introduce our customers to our City Streets private brand. City Streets will offer our customers an everyday low price that is contemporary, trend-right and at a low price. Our early results with our new City Streets brand have been exceptional. And in addition, during the fall season, we'll enjoy a 40% improvement in design-to-delivery cycle time in many of our private brands. And this will allow us to maintain trend relevance while reducing inventory. So in closing, we're very focused on two critical factors: first to operate the business for growth; and second, to deliver earnings profitability.”
  • Approaching Digital Differently: Amend likes to say he heads a startup inside 115-year-old J.C. Penney, Dallas News said in July 2017.  The article touts Amend's office, which is open and staffed with data scientists, DevOps and site reliability engineers, page designers, and product managers.  The setting "releases our capabilities," Amend said, and matches a new workflow with empowered teams completing two-week implementations of decisions that are driven by data.  "Sure, we still have one-, two-, and three-year visions and strategies, but we have to break up the execution into chunks."  Having a strong digital platform will be crucial, especially with 138 fewer stores that Penny closed at the end of July 2017.  For now, the article said, Penney has 875 stores, and those locations have been immersed in the online business.  He spoke confidently about Penney's online operation during interviews, at about the same time Amazon.com and Sears agreed to sell Kenmore appliances together.  This came at the same time Nike agreed to a similar partnership with Amazon.  Asked about the daily barrage of new challenges, Amend said niches of competition are constantly springing up.  Penney is in the mattress business fighting with new online-only sellers Casper and Helix, "just two of so many home goods competitors," he said.  "There are hundreds of millions of customers out there. We focus on our customers, and we're not trying to be Amazon. They are doing interesting things and having success," Amend said, "but we have a huge customer base, and we can serve them better and get more of their wallet."  Also, Penney customers may not fit the typical high-income customer profile of an Amazon Prime member, he said.  Research tells Penney that it has one of the lowest customer overlaps with Prime members of any mass retailer and department store, Dallas News said.  "Our customers have household incomes of $60,000 to $90,000, and they tend to be hardworking, two-income families living both in rural and urban settings," Amend said. "They don't have the discretionary income to commit to membership fees."  Back in 2015, still stabilizing its business from a failed attempt to reinvent the department store by former CEO Ron Johnson, Penney lacked a basic online shopping service: buy online and pick up in store.  That changed just a year ago.  "That's table stakes," Amend said, a term that means the minimum a business needs to be in the game.  The company has improved immensely.  "Marvin talks about the art and science of retail. When I started working here, the art was someone's opinion without the data," Amend said.  Besides changing the way employees in the online operation work, Penney set out to "democratize access to the data," so that not only the technical staff could understand it, he said. "It was a pain to get someone to give you access to the data."  Now dashboards and heat maps allow the artful side of the business to measure such things as sales to in-stock levels or pricing to customer behavior, Amend said.  "And these are thought of as company sales, not online sales and store sales, just J.C. Penney customers."  Penney added bicycles back to its inventory as well.  People are looking for one-stop shopping online, Amend said.  It works well with its new Rewards program to have more items people can buy to earn points.  "Culturally, we had to figure out how do you operate a 115-year-old company in a digital era?" Amend said. "We've moved from a traditional retailer to a more technology-centered organization."
  • Hub of Fundamental Engineering Solutions: In less than a year of opening its technology center in Bengaluru, India, JCPenney has made it the hub of fundamental engineering solutions, one that works very closely with the tech team in the United States. The company has 400 people in India now, with 100 of them part of its omnichannel strategy, building solutions that integrate multiple retail channels such as physical stores, home delivery, the Web, and the mobile. Amend calls his omnichannel initiative Project Pulsar. “We have built a pricing and promotion engine, we are investing in building mobile app capabilities, and improving the in-store experience. We are also rolling out an intelligent order sourcing logic that, when an order is made online, scans the entire inventory in real-time, understands the labor cost, transportation costs, value of the goods and a whole host of factors to figure out what is the best place to source the order from,” he said. The complex algorithm has turned the traditional order-sourcing system upside down. “The team here have done an amazing job of improving the accuracy and relevance of our search through some new tech, including machine learning and advanced algorithms,” Amend said. The pricing and promotion engine wasn’t part of the roadmap initially. But looking at the talent, the global leadership has fast forwarded the journey. “Way beyond what we expected,” said Dhritiman Saha, SVP digital at JCPenney. Back in June 2016, while announcing the opening the center, Amend said, "We are looking at India predominantly as a talent play, and not for doing incremental stuff. We are going to re-platform, redesign and do cutting-edge work... there will be global roles for people here."
  • Launch B2B Services for Hotel Industry: In May 2017, JCPenney said it planned to leverage its new home services business to try to win more sales from hotels and other lodging companies, Fortune reported. The move comes less than a year after Penney re-entered the appliance business, selling washing machines and refrigerators among other bulky items, as it seeks to broaden its product offerings beyond apparel. Penney gave credit for the idea to sell to hotels to those businesses themselves, who it said were already placing big orders of bedding, bath and window treatments from its website. "Our entry into the B2B (business-to-business) program reinforces our home refresh initiative, while providing new and innovative ways to achieve sustainable growth and profitability," CEO Marvin Ellison said. Penney will use an outside sales force to line up new businesses, which will also include residential property managers, and said its private brands of home items like towels and sheets will give it an edge on cost. Ellison estimated the U.S. hospitality industry is a $200 billion sector that offers significant opportunity for JC Penney to gain market share" and get more business out of each customers.

Key Challenges

  • What He’s Up Against: CEO Marv Ellison told analysts in 2016, “the JCPenney of 2010 will not win in 2020. That business model can’t work for the future. There are elements of that business model we are very confident that can work and specifically that element is private brands. It’s a huge competitive advantage that we have as a Company. But, as I’ve discussed in the past, when I arrived back in November of 2014, I quickly realized that we were heavy on art and very poor on the science of retail. We spent a lot of time on presentation standards. We spent a lot of time on the esthetics of our environment, but we didn’t spend enough time on the backend process, since that really drives retailer to be efficient, things like supply chain efficiency, things like having a seamless e-commerce connectivity to brick-and-mortar, like having robust information technology, mobile apps and devices that really create a great seamless environment for customer, the way she wants to shop, the time, the place and the opportunity, and not to mention, how we look at and measure productivity across the entire enterprise, whether it’s at home office, in the store or in the supply chain. So, it is not coincidental that we went out and really attracted some very talented individuals as a new Chief Information Officer, new Head of Store Operations, new Head of Supply Chain, new Chief Marketing and Customer Officer just to name a few. These individuals were brought in because we had to modernize our business from a retail perspective…We want to have great presentation in the store. We don’t want to walk away from that, but that great presentation has to be backed up with more sophistication around replenishment, around measuring productivity on the floor and around how we can gain great profitability from the product that we sell. In addition to that, we had to create a true omni-channel experience. I know the omni-channel term is overly used in retail but for me it’s very appropriate because JCPenney was once a dominant catalogue retailer. So, you could argue that JCPenney was one of the first omni-channel retailers between brick-and-mortar and catalogue. And online is only a very sophisticated modern view of what the catalogue was 50 years ago. And that was totally lost in the leadership transition and change in philosophy.  So, now, we’ve brought in a great e-commerce leader and we’re in the process of really creating a seamless connection between e-commerce and brick-and-mortar, and that has never existed in any shape, form or fashion in our Company. We’re ready to roll out a new mobile app that’s been in beta for the last few weeks and we’re excited about it because it’s something that we desperately need based on how our customers shop…we’re one of few retailers today that do not have the ability to have buy online, pick-up in-store same day in our stores; we have roughly 250 stores in the first quarter, we’ll have all stores chain-wide rolled out by the end of August. In our pilot location in the first quarter, roughly 40% of the customers that came into the store to pick up an item that they had purchased, bought something additional. I mean that’s a huge, huge conversion rate. And having rolled this out at a different retailer, I understand the benefits of it…we’re balancing the art and the science of retailing. We’re truly becoming an omni-channel retailer, because you have to be. We have 1,000 store locations. We’re going to be piloting enterprise fulfillment where we’re going to take stores that are in uniquely geographic locations and use those stores as the first choice for online replenishment…So, we’re excited about these things. And we’re not going to make the same mistake. We may make different mistakes; we’re not going to repeat mistakes. I can guarantee that.”

Biographical Highlights

  • Amend holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Management Information Systems from Oklahoma State University.  He also attended the executive program in General Management, Finance, Marketing and Innovation at the University of California, Berkeley's Haas School of Business.
  • Chief Architect, eCommerce, Sprint Corporation (1999-2003)
  • Deputy CTO, BEA Systems, Inc. (2003-2008)
  • CTO, Global Online, Dell Inc. (2008-2011)
  • VP, Online, Mobile and Omnichannel, Home Depot (2011-2015)
  • EVP, Omnichannel, JCPenney Company, Inc. (August 2015-Present)

Other Boards and Organizations

  • Member, Board of Trustees , Texas Baptist Children's Home (2013-Present)
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Contact Information

6501 Legacy Dr.
Plano, TX, 75024
United States



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Personal Interests

  • Education
  • Technology
  • Children's Charities