Amazon’s unlikely alliance with Kohl’s is getting even tighter.
Starting in July, Kohl’s will begin accepting returns for items purchased on Amazon at all of its stores, more than 1,150 in total. The move marks a major expansion of a two-year-old partnership between the retailers. It started in 2017 with a pilot program at 10 stores and expanded to 100 stores a year later.
Kohl’s accepts items without a box or shipping label, free of charge. It then repackages the items and sends them off to Amazon return centers.
For Kohl’s, the Amazon partnership is one of several initiatives to bring more traffic to its stores. Amazon furthers its brick and mortar presence and gives its customers another easy option for returns without having to add additional real estate.
“We are thrilled to bring Amazon Returns at Kohl’s to all of our stores across the country,” Kohl’s CEO Michelle Gass said in a statement. “Amazon and Kohl’s have a shared passion in providing outstanding customer service, and this unique partnership combines Kohl’s strong nationwide store footprint and omnichannel capabilities with Amazon’s reach and customer loyalty. This new service is another example of how Kohl’s is delivering innovation to drive traffic to our stores and bring more relevance to our customers.”
Kohl’s stock is up 9 percent in early morning trading on news of the expanded partnership with Amazon. Shares in the retail have risen close to 23 percent so far this year.
Kohl’s also sells Amazon devices in more than 200 of its stores.
In addition to dedicating some square footage in its stores to selling Amazon items and taking returns, Kohl’s has shrunk some stores and rented out that extra space to Planet Fitness for gyms. These moves show the creative approaches retailers are taking to increase traffic in stores as they compete with e-commerce companies.
Amazon too has been creative in teaming up with other retailers. This morning, Amazon and France-based retail company Casino Group announced plans to put Amazon Lockers in more than 1,000 supermarkets and smaller grocery stores across the country.
Earlier this year, GeekWire managing editor Taylor Soper named Kohl’s as a possible Amazon acquisition target. Here’s why:
Amazon has already partnered with the big department store chain, installing smart-home boutiques and opening return centers inside Kohl’s locations. Don’t be surprised to see Amazon take the more ambitious step of swooping up Kohl’s, especially given the tech giant’s recent investments in online apparel and physical retail. Bonus: Kohl’s CEO Michelle Gates has Seattle roots, earning her MBA from the University of Washington and working more than 16 years at Starbucks.