Kohl’s Ramps Up Its Status As Amazon Returns Depot

August 21, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

If you can’t beat ’em, might as well join ’em; that’s the folksy aphorism that seems to be dictating at least some of Kohl’s business policy these days. Not so long ago, Kohl’s took on the job of offering physical return stations for Amazon purchases, and opened up the potential for a new line of business with it. The original plan must be working reasonably well, because Kohl’s recently stepped up the operation, bringing Amazon return stations to several Milwaukee stores.

The basic practice, however, remains the same: those wanting to return an item bought on Amazon need only take it back to Kohl’s, where Kohl’s will then package and ship the items back to the Amazon fulfillment center at no charge to the customer. Kohl’s even sets aside parking spaces near the entrance in some cases for customers to make those quick runs in.

Currently, the service is only available at 82 stores around the Chicago and Los Angeles areas. The addition of 21 stores in the Milwaukee area, meanwhile, expands the operation substantially and adds a whole new market to the mix.

A study of Kohl’s locations staged by Gordon Haskett Research Advisors suggests that the program is working pretty well; stores with Amazon returns venues have an 8.5 percent increase in foot traffic, and of them, over half—56 percent—are either new customers or customers who haven’t come to a Kohl’s location in recent memory. That’s up a long way from stores without return programs; they only saw 43 percent of traffic that was new or not-recent-returnees.

Basically, Kohl’s is offering a draw, the kind of thing that can get new customers in the door, looking around, and possibly buying something. Considering that Kohl’s is also offering some Amazon products at last report, like the Echo and Fire tablet, that’s a further draw as well. That Kohl’s has stepped in here early may give it some edge going forward, particularly if the Amazon effect keeps driving some retailers out of the market for good.

Only time will tell just what the overall effect is, but for us mobile payments users who like Amazon, but want to return things a little more readily, this move should be a real welcome one in the end.