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Kohl's stores to accept returns – from Amazon


Kohl's is extending its collaboration with Amazon in a way that is almost sure to drive increased traffic into its stores while solving one of the online giant's biggest challenges.

The department store retailer will begin accepting returns at 82 Kohl's stores in Los Angeles and Chicago. The chain will not only ship eligible items back to an Amazon fulfillment center free of charge, but will also pack up the goods for shipping if the customer has not done so.

In addition, parking spots near Kohl's store entrances will be designated for customers making Amazon returns. The program kicks off in October.

“This is a great example of how Kohl’s and Amazon are leveraging each other's strengths – the power of Kohl’s store portfolio and omnichannel capabilities combined with the power of Amazon’s reach and loyal customer base," said Richard Schepp, chief administrative officer, Kohl's.

Earlier this month, Kohl’s announced plans to add an Amazon "smart home experience' in-store shop in 10 select Kohl’s locations across the Los Angeles and Chicago areas starting in October. The 10 Kohl’s stores with the in-store shops will have Amazon returns integrated into the overall Amazon experience, located prominently at the front of the store.

In August, Kohl's announced plans to make nearly half its locations "operationally smaller" through balancing inventory and adjusting fixtures." In a note to clients, Gordon Haskett analyst Chuck Grom wrote that the Kohl's-Amazon returns program is clearly part of the department store retailer's "standard to small" store initiative.

Grom added that the returns program is "an intelligent way for Kohl’s to: leverage unutilized parts of its store footprint and (b) help improve frequency (and potentially drive sales higher) in its stores .... All told, we like the moves Kohl’s is taking as it continue to think outside the box and forward think on how to evolve in today’s quickly changing backdrop."

As for Amazon, the program offers it a new way to tackle one of its biggest challenges: returns. "One of the very few complaints consumers share with Amazon is on the product return front," Grom said.
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