Retail veteran Ron Johnson is iterating on the on-demand economy.
Johnson, who spent the better part of his career in the brick-and-mortar trenches, developing Target Corp.’s design muscle through collections such as Michael Graves’ home line, creating Apple’s retail concept and overseeing its growth to 400 units, and serving a brief and disastrous tenure as chief executive officer of J.C. Penney, has a new gig — and it has nothing to do with physical retail.
Enjoy.com provides last-mile delivery by trained tech experts for brands such as Google, Sonos, AT&T and Magic Leap. Johnson launched Enjoy.com with chief creative officer Tom Suiter, whom he met at Apple in the early Aughts. “We worked together on a variety of projects through the years,” Johnson said. “I went to him when I first had the idea for Enjoy and asked him to help frame the idea.”
While retailers and e-tailers rush to speed delivery time from days to the same-day to hours, Johnson believes it’s a race to the bottom.
“In a world that started digital and has gone mobile, the question I ask is why not bring the store through the door,” he said. “Everything is delivered to the door, including groceries. An on-demand economy gets you to the doorstep really fast. We’re the one that creates the value going through the door.”
Each of Enjoy’s 1,500 experts receives more than 160 hours of training before they can schedule an appointment to deliver products such as Magic Leap One’s virtual reality headset or Sonos speakers and teach consumers how to use or set-up the devices.
The service is now limited to tech products, but Johnson said, “In the near future, we’ll be broadening to other categories.” Sources said that could include luxury apparel, where a consumer’s home would be their fitting room and Enjoy fashion experts or stylists would deliver various looks, returning unwanted items to a retail or brand partner. The luxury industry, which has been slow to move online, could take advantage of Enjoy’s delivery infrastructure.
Sources said the same scenario could apply to beauty, where aestheticians would introduce consumers to brands in a convenient and more intimate way than department store beauty departments where makeovers and sampling are done in full view of other shoppers. If it sounds like Avon or Mary Kay, the difference is that Enjoy doesn’t sell its own products. Orders are placed through manufacturers’ web sites, which offer Enjoy’s free expert delivery during the online checkout process. Brands pay for the service.
“We cover 51 metro areas, that’s more than the Apple stores,” Johnson said, adding, “We’ll be at scale in the U.K. this year.” The company plans to launch in Canada and be up and running in continental Europe beginning in 2020.
To attract the best experts, the positions are full-time, salaried and with full benefits. They work four 10-hour days a week; however, the service is staffed seven days a week. The ever image-conscious Johnson set a dress code for experts: Lacoste shirts, Kit and Ace pants and Allbirds shoes. They drive company-owned silver Chevy Equinox SUVs, and trail Rimowa rolling suitcases with product orders on one side and ancillary items for up-selling on the other.
“This on-demand mobile store is a very innovative model,” Johnson said. “We’ve raised $200 million and built out all the capabilities. You need high-volume products like the iPhone, [which is sold through Enjoy’s carrier partnership with AT&T]. The reason the economics work is the orders go through the manufacturer. AT&T turned off shipping. It’s just Enjoy.com.”
Johnson said Enjoy’s Net Promoter Score is 96 percent. The positive reinforcement is a stark contrast from Johnson’s prior job at Penney’s, which he joined in November 2011. He quickly earned the enmity of loyal shoppers by eliminating the retailer’s popular coupons in favor of a concept he dubbed,”Fair and square pricing.” Penney’s lost $1 billion and shares tumbled 23 percent before Johnson left in 2013.
“After that kind of hard experience, I didn’t work for a year,” he said. “I said, ‘I’m going to make myself available for free and talk to companies like Airbnb and Twitter.’ Despite how hard that had been, most of my career has been a blessing.”
After the Penney’s debacle, Johnson wanted to build something himself. “I love creating things,” he said. “When I did Michael Graves at Target, that was entrepreneurial. Apple was entrepreneurial. So many people from the Apple store went to work in the mobile economy because they wanted flexibility. There were so many times at Apple when [customers] asked if they could have the Genius Bar go to their house.
“We’re now in a growth stage,” he said. “We’re raising a lot of capital. The device was the next frontier of retail. Now, the home is the next frontier. We pair the convenience of online with the confidence of a store. My gut says the iPhone and Sonos speakers came through the door; what else can come through the door?”