Starting in July, consumers who want to return a purchase they made through Amazon only have to take the item to any Kohl’s store and the company will return it to Amazon at no charge. Consumers don’t even have to put the item in a box.
The move is an expansion of a pilot program the two retailers launched in 2017 at 100 stores in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Milwaukee. The expansion will make more than 1,150 Kohl’s stores in 48 states Amazon return centers.
“We are thrilled to bring Amazon Returns at Kohl’s to all of our stores across the country,” said Michelle Gass, Kohl’s CEO. “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.”
Banking on increased foot traffic
Returned items won’t have to be boxed or labeled. Kohl’s says it will handle that, all at no charge to the consumer. Kohl’s is banking on an increase in foot traffic from Amazon customers who might not otherwise visit a Kohl’s store. It’s hoping that, once inside the store, those Amazon customers will buy something before they leave.
There’s evidence to suggest that belief is not misplaced. Independent research shows that after the pilot program began in the Chicago market, revenue picked up at Kohl’s stores in that area, along with the number of sales transactions.
Kohl’s says the collaboration will create convenient locations for Amazon customers to return eligible Amazon.com merchandise with a minimum of effort. Under the terms of the partnership, eligible items will be returned free of charge regardless of return reason and regardless of whether the items are packaged or unpackaged for shipping.
In addition to driving traffic, becoming a return center increases Kohl’s relationship with Amazon. Kohl’s has already agreed to carry some of the e-commerce giant’s products in more than 200 of its stores.
Wall Street liked the idea, sending Kohl’s stock price higher this week. Analysts generally agreed that working alongside Amazon was much safer than trying to compete head-to-head.