Kohl’s is going to the dark side?

All over the news you’ve seen that Amazon and Kohl’s are forming a partnership. And it has the potential to be brilliant for both companies.

For the retail world, this may be the ultimate partnership, a combination of eCommerce and retail, both leveraging each other’s strengths to provide the best possible experience for their customers.

This is a perfect example of the new customer-centric approach retailers are utilizing, which is putting an end to the channel-focused business model that keeps in-store and online efforts working in silos.

The partnership will enable Kohl’s to accept Amazon customer returns, and they will pack them up and ship them back for free! That is a partnership that I think most U.S.-based online shoppers can benefit from. I don’t know about you, but when I need to return my Amazon goods, admittedly they sit around my house for weeks and sometimes never make it out of my house (yes, guilty) so I am thrilled that I can run them into a local store while I’m out running errands.

Amazon’s director of worldwide customer returns, Shivi Shankaran, feels that this is an incredible opportunity to pair up Amazon’s great return service with a great in-store shopping experience. Amazon realizes they are missing out on brick-and-mortar retail. This is exactly why they just bought Whole Foods last month, and why they are also building out a chain of physical bookstores (11 and counting). Everything in this world is truly cyclical. Reminds me of how direct mail has made a comeback after email saturation began to annoy consumers.

As for the Amazon returns at Kohl’s, there is still some mystery as to how it will work in reality. So far, we know that the service will be available at 82 Kohl’s stores in the Chicago and Los Angeles areas starting this month. A few blogs ago, I mentioned Kohl’s reserving close up parking “for online shoppers only,” and now they will have the same dedicated up-front parking spots for Amazon shoppers making returns. Stay tuned for more details about how the “Amazon return center” will work. My guess is that it will be located at the back of the store (for obvious reasons) just like their current return department.

This partnership has the potential to really increase Kohl’s foot traffic. Currently 28% of Kohl’s shoppers who come in to pick up an online order make a purchase while they are there browsing. This is an omnichannel strategy at its best. Kohl’s came in at number 18 in the Internet Retailer 2017 Top 500. I can only imagine where they will be in a year or two.


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