Kohl’s and Amazon: Can They Really Be Friends?

These are challenging times for brick and mortar retailers. With malls struggling and bankruptcy victims piling up, where do retailers turn?
Nine months into the year and just a few months out from Christmas, these are the stores that have filed for Chapter 11 so far:

  • The Limited (January 17)
  • Wet Seal (February 2)
  • Eastern Outfitters (February 6)
  • BCBG Mx Azria (March 1)
  • Vanity (March 1)
  • Hhgregg (March 6)
  • RadioShack (March 8)
  • Gordmans Stores (March 13)
  • Gander Mountain (March 20)
  • Payless (April 4)
  • Rue 21 (May 15)
  • Gymboree (June 11)
  • Papaya Clothing (June 15)
  • True Religion Apparel (July 5)
  • Alfred Angelo (July 14)
  • Perfumamia (August 26)
  • Vitamin World (September 12)
  • Aerosoles (September 15)
  • Toys R Us (September 18)

In lieu of this extraordinary retail disruption, Kohl’s announced¬†earlier this month, that they would be launching a “smart home experience” in ten of its stores leading up to the holiday shopping season. These ten locations will be selling Amazon devices, such as the Echo and Fire, in stores. Additionally, you can schedule someone to come and set up your smart devices in your home.
This was step one in their partnership. Step two was announced today.
Kohl’s will begin accepting Amazon returns at some of their locations. They will then pack and ship these back to an Amazon fulfillment center for free, all while providing Amazon customers premier parking spaces because Amazon shoppers expect convenience above all else.
In a time of extreme retail disruption, the logic is that, if someone goes to Kohl’s to return their Amazon item, they may purchase something else while at Kohl’s. The benefit to Amazon is that Kohl’s is easily accessible. Right now, they can leverage each other’s strengths.
But with Amazon’s recent acquisition of Whole Foods, will this relationship with Kohl’s just be a fleeting romance…or something more?
That is the big unknown. In the short-term, Kohl’s stock is up. Only time will tell if this friendship is built to last.

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Sharon Suchoval

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