Like other department stores, Kohl’s is struggling to compete with online retailers, most notably Amazon. Faced with declining sales, Kohl’s is reducing inventory in hundreds of its stores. Now, in a classic keep-your-enemies close maneuver, the department store has decided to hand over the freed-up space to Amazon in 10 of its locations.
Beginning in October, select Kohl’s in the Los Angeles and Chicago regions will house “The Amazon Smart Home Experience,” a 1,000-square-foot zone featuring Amazon devices, like the Echo, Echo Dot, Fire TV, Fire tablets, and others.
The arrangement could be mutually beneficial, attracting customers to the department store while increasing Amazon’s brick-and-mortar footprint. The Seattle e-commerce juggernaut is clearly investing in physical retail, opening bookstores across the country, experimenting with pickup grocery and innovative convenience store concepts, and acquiring the Whole Foods chain of upscale grocery stores.
“We are thrilled to offer a unique new way for customers to try out our lineup of Alexa-enabled Amazon devices, learn more about our smart home services from Amazon experts and then buy those items directly from Amazon — all within Kohl’s stores,” said Dave Zimmer, vice president of sales and marketing for Amazon Devices, in a statement.
Home Depot, a physical retailer that has been faring better than others, is also partnering with a tech giant. The home improvement store will start seeing products through the Google Home smart speaker and Google Express site, according to Bloomberg Technology. Google and Walmart have also formed an e-commerce alliance.
The partnerships with brick-and-mortar retailers reflect increasing competition between Amazon and Google for smart home dominance as consumers embrace the Internet of Things.