Kohl’s embracing Amazon returns to drive sales 

    It says volumes about the challenges facing brick-and-mortar stores that the “single biggest initiative” out of Kohl’s this year, according to its CEO, is accepting and processing unwanted orders from Amazon, The New York Times reports.

    Kohl’s announced this morning that it’s now accepting Amazon returns at its more than 1,100 stores after running a pilot program in 100 locations. The retailer, which will pack, label and ship the returns for free, expects the program to benefit millions of shoppers along with bringing more people into its stores, Michelle Gass, the company’s chief executive, said in a statement.

    The Wisconsin-based retailer tested the program for about 18 months. It timed its national rollout to the back-to-school shopping season.

    “It’s an interesting marriage because what Kohl’s needs is store traffic, and what Amazon needs is to make customers happier with a place to return their items,” said Oliver Chen, a retail analyst at Cowen. “The dream is that it’s a fair but attractive split where that shopper will come in and purchase other items.” 

    National chains have been devising a plethora of ways to accommodate new digital shopping habits, particularly of younger consumers, beyond simply managing their own online pickups and returns at stores. Nordstrom recently established an urban chain of stores, called Nordstrom Local, that do not carry any merchandise. The coffee shop-sized locations are mainly hubs for online pickups and returns, and have attracted a younger crowd compared with Nordstrom’s average shoppers. 

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