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Hot on the heels of its Whole Foods procurement, Amazon is raising eyebrows yet again by expanding its recent partnership with Kohl's department stores. Starting in October, select Kohl's locations will begin accepting Amazon.com returns. Since our community place more orders from Amazon than any other store, we figured we'd make sure you didn't miss out on this news.
Mergers and Acquisitions
Yesterday, Kohl's announced that next month it will begin accepting Amazon.com returns (including unboxed merchandise) in 82 stores throughout Los Angeles and Chicago. The retailer will then pack and ship these returned items back to Amazon's fulfillment center free of charge.
This is just the latest in Amazon's efforts to make returns easier for consumers. The e-commerce giant also recently installed Amazon Lockers at more than 400 Whole Foods locations nationwide so that shoppers can easily pick up or return their Amazon.com purchases without setting foot in a post office.
Kohl's + Amazon: Odd Couple or Dream Team?
While it may seem like an unexpected coupling, Kohl's actually made an announcement earlier this month that it will begin selling a range of Amazon devices and accessories (like the Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Amazon Fire TV and Fire tablets) in 10 stores across Los Angeles and Chicago starting in October, as well.
These locations will include specific 1,000-square-foot zones staffed by Amazon sales associates to better assist with customer inquiries. These in-store sections are intended to provide an interactive experience for shoppers that they can't obtain online. This should in theory also avoid you having to wait in long Kohl's return lines, since Amazon returns will have their own separate areas of the store.
Many believe this unusual partnership is a promising move for both retailers, as well as their loyal customer bases. Amazon gets to utilize Kohl's existing brick-and-mortar stores without fronting the costs of maintaining them, while Kohl's gets Amazon shoppers through its doors in the hopes of spontaneous sales.
According to Kohl's Chief Administrative Officer, Richard Schepp, "This is a great example of how Kohl's and Amazon are leveraging each other's strengths." Schepp called the concept "unprecedented and innovative," adding that the store is "thrilled to launch" the upcoming service.
The arrangement is obviously good for all of us Prime members and Kohl's coupon stackers, because who doesn't appreciate having more return options in general? And, as if easier returns aren't enough, Kohl's is placing designated parking spots near store entrances for customers with Amazon.com returns. Granted, Amazon returns are pretty seamless as it is. You can just drop them off a the UPS store or have them come pick it up at your home.
Return to Sender: Outcome Unknown
While Kohl's shares rose after both of its recent Amazon announcements, some are wondering if Kohl's may be following in the beleaguered footsteps of Toys"R"Us. The retailer declared bankruptcy just this week -- and some are speculating that its current financial woes can be traced back to an unfortunate 10-year deal with Amazon that began in 2000 and ended early in a bitter court battle.
Toys"R"Us had agreed to become Amazon's official toy distributor and even relinquished its website in the process. When Amazon began hosting other toy stores on its site, Toys"R"Us filed suit, terminating the arrangement and winning a $51 million dollar payout. Borders and Target have also publicly regretted entering into partnerships with Amazon, so how this will play out for Kohl's remains to be seen.
What are your thoughts on Amazon returns taking place at Kohl's department stores? Would you use it if it was available in your city?
Images courtesy of Amazon and Kohl's. ©2017 Kohl's Department Stores, Inc.
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