Kohl's department stores, which have had an agreement with online retail juggernaut Amazon since 2017, announced Tuesday, April 23, that it will accept Amazon-purchased returns at all stores nationwide starting in July.
"This unique partnership combines Kohl's strong nationwide store footprint and omnichannel capabilities with Amazon's reach and customer loyalty," said Michelle Gass, Kohl's CEO. "This new service is another example of how Kohl's is delivering innovation to drive traffic to our stores and bring more relevance to our customers."
Kohl's is seeking to enhance its appeal to customers as traditional retailers struggle to compete with online sellers and shoppers seek more personalized and direct-to-their-door experiences. In some ways, the announcement is an approach of, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
Kohl's did not give a specific date when the service would begin or details how it will work.
The free returns service is expected to offer added convenience to Amazon shoppers who already can order items online and have them arrive in a day or two, while at the same time, giving the shoppers a reason to come inside Kohl's. The service expands the Wisconsin-based retailer's partnership with Seattle-based Amazon.
Kohl's said it will accept items whether they are packaged for shipping or not.
Kohl's announcement also comes about a month after Amazon said it will close more than 80 of its small retail locations - pop-up stores, as Amazon refers to them - inside Kohl's, Whole Foods and shopping malls. And in March, Kohl's said it is deepening its product relationship with Amazon by carrying Amazon products in more than 200 stores and that it would be shrinking the size of some of its stores.
As a part of that, Kohl's announced other plans to draw more customers to its stores: Aldi supermarkets is opening near five Kohl's stores, and Planet Fitness is locating next to 10 Kohl's stores.
Kohl's rolled out its pilot returns program with Amazon about two years ago. It is now operating it in 100 stores in the Los Angeles, Chicago and Milwaukee markets. The expansion adds more than 1,000 Kohl's stores to the return program.