Kohl’s to Accept Amazon Returns

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Beginning next month, 82 Kohl’s Corp. (NYSE: KSS) stores in Los Angeles and Chicago will accept returns from consumers who bought the goods from Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN). Kohl’s will pack and ship eligible items to Amazon return centers for free regardless of the reason for the return or whether the items are packed for shipping.

The program, called “Amazon Returns at Kohl’s,” is the second joint endeavor between the two firms. Earlier this month Kohl’s rolled out Amazon’s smart home products in 10 stores in Los Angeles and Chicago. These 10 stores will be among those included in the returns program.

Richard Shepp, chief administrative officer at Kohl’s, said:

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. 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.

The announcement did not spell out how refunds would be handled, but it makes sense (to us, at least) that refunds would be made in accordance with Amazon’s refund policy at the time the item is left with Kohl’s to be returned.

It’s pretty easy to see why Kohl’s likes this deal. The company hopes to generate more store traffic by providing a service for Amazon that the online-only retailer can’t provide for itself. Kohl’s now has to convert that traffic into sales.

Analyst Chuck Grom at Gordon Haskett told Investor’s Business Daily:

Kohl’s has historically seen a roughly 25%-30% uptick in baskets from BOPUS (buy online pickup in store) transactions, so it’s plausible that the company will see some benefit.

For Amazon, returns are at best a point of inconvenience for customers and at worst a point of potential conflict. If the program with Kohl’s relieves some of the pain, Amazon would have to count it a success and even consider expanding it to other brick-and-mortar stores.