Amazon and Kohl’s are taking their relationship to another level.
It turns out, running a successful e-commerce business means having plenty of men on the ground. With constant fulfillment and reverse logistics demands, online retailers are finding it necessary to have a presence in the physical world as well.
Last week Kohl’s announced it would be launching Amazon shops in 10 of its locations. The 1,000-square-foot areas will offer a full range of Amazon IoT, including Echos and Fire TV, as well as the company’s home services.
Today, the department store has announced that 82 of its locations in Chicago and Los Angeles will accept returns on behalf of the etailer. The free service includes packing and shipping, plus consumers making Amazon returns at Kohl’s can get in and out quickly thanks to dedicated parking spaces.
“We are thrilled to launch this unprecedented and innovative concept, allowing customers to bring in their unpackaged Amazon returns to Kohl’s and we will pack them, ship them, and return them to Amazon for free,” said Richard Schepp, Kohl’s chief administrative officer. “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.”
Schepp’s comment speaks to what many are predicting: neither online nor offline stores will survive on their own. Consumers are looking for the convenience and service that only a combination of the two can provide.
And by making returns easy and free, Amazon is addressing one of the key concerns consumers have with shopping online.
[Read more about consumers’ attitudes regarding returns: Report: Easy Returns Yield Loyal Customers]
When Narvar, a post-purchase experience platform, surveyed shoppers about their return habits, the company found that for 49 percent of respondents, the return process influences their buying journey. Further, 74 percent of those surveyed said they won’t shop with a store that doesn’t offer free returns. Finally, just over a third prefer to return in store.
For retailers like Kohl’s, facilitating in-store returns might lead to an increase in sales in another way as well.
One of the reasons why stores from Target to Macy’s are going out of their way to accommodate folks who want to pick up their online purchases in store is they’ve seen the uptick in sales that comes with them, as these consumers pick up additional items while they’re there. It’s a benefit Kohl’s is no doubt hoping to reap by having a steady stream of Amazon shoppers in and out of its doors.