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Kohl's opens its doors to Amazon's returns

  • Kohl's will pack and ship eligible items — back to an Amazon fulfillment center — for free.
  • Starting next month, the service will be available at 82 Kohl's stores across Los Angeles and Chicago.
  • After it acquired Whole Foods, Amazon announced a similar service would be available at the chain's grocery locations.

Amazon is growing its partnership with department store chain Kohl's.

Earlier this summer, the two companies announced that Kohl's would begin selling Amazon devices, such as the Echo and Fire tablets, at 10 of its stores.

On Tuesday, Kohl's said it will begin accepting Amazon.com returns at certain U.S. locations. The retailer will pack and ship eligible items — back to an Amazon fulfillment center — 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," said Richard Schepp, Kohl's chief administrative officer.

As an added bonus, customers visiting Kohl's for Amazon returns can use "designated parking spots" near store entrances. In this partnership, "convenience" for consumers is key, Kohl's has said.

Kohl's shares were up 2.7 percent midmorning Tuesday.

Starting next month, the Amazon return service will be available at 82 Kohl's stores across Los Angeles and Chicago. Kohl's hasn't said when the service will expand to other markets, but this looks to be just the beginning of Amazon using retailers' real estate to its advantage.

In acquiring supermarket chain Whole Foods, Amazon has launched a similar service, where shoppers can return purchases made on Amazon.com at the grocer's more than 400 stores.

Notably, for Kohl's this deal could lure consumers into stores to make a return, where they might later shop. And falling foot traffic has become a threatening trend for many retailers this year.

"The test ... is an intelligent way for Kohl's to: (a) leverage unutilized parts of its store footprint and (b) help improve frequency (and potentially drive sales higher) in its stores," Gordon Haskett analyst Chuck Grom wrote in a note to clients.

"All told, we like the moves Kohl's is taking as it continue to think outside the box and forward think on how to evolve in today's quickly changing backdrop," Haskett added.

Sears marks another retailer that recently signed a deal with Amazon, aiming to sell more of its appliances, and those with Alexa capabilities, through the internet giant's platform.

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