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Ron Johnson, Apple's former head of retail widely recognized as spearheading the Apple Store initiative, took the wraps off a startup called Enjoy, which seeks to aid shoppers making online purchases.
Talking to The Wall Street Journal on Thursday, Johnson said Enjoy is a service that will change the way consumers buy "things that matter," allowing customers who start their shopping on the Web to connect with a product before making a decision. The strategy is akin to the "try before you buy" policy that has seen great success with Apple Stores around the world.
While he wouldn't offer specific details about the service, Johnson said Enjoy will help customers make informed choices, something lacking in the fast-paced world of online shopping.
"That's when you typically want something more than fast delivery; you might want a little help," Johnson said. "There's a place for high touch in a high-tech world."
A customer looking to buy a new GoPro camera was used as an example. According to Johnson, Enjoy will help consumers understand more about the capabilities of products with which they are unfamiliar, like more expensive one-time buys or devices packed with new technology.
"There's more to life than logistics. There's more to life than a review," Johnson said. "Just because we're moving online, it doesn't mean that need for a connection is going away. No one has really thought that through yet."
Rumors of what has now been announced as Enjoy first circulated in September, when The Information claimed Johnson was working on an eco-friendly on-demand product delivery service. While not completely dismissing the report, Johnson said, "We don't need another delivery service."
Joining Johnson at Enjoy are two former Apple execs, Jerry McDougal, who was a VP of Retail in Cupertino, and Tom Suiter, a creative director noted for his work on the iMac campaign.
A former Target executive, Johnson is perhaps best known for realizing the Apple Store concept, a major revenue driver for Apple that sells more product per square foot than any other retailer. He left the company in 2011 to take on the role of CEO at J.C. Penney. Johnson was fired subsequently
in early 2013 due to slumping sales. Enjoy marks his return to the world of retail.
Enjoy has already raised $30 million in venture capital from the likes of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Oak Investment Partners and Andreessen Horowitz. The service is slated to launch in 2015.