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Amazon Tapping Kohl’s For Order Returns, Tech Sales

Amazon will further wend its way into physical retail next month when 82 Kohl’s stores in Chicago and Los Angeles begin accepting product returns from the world’s largest e-tailer.

The program, dubbed simply Amazon Returns at Kohl’s, extends a previous pact between the retailers that will posit Amazon smart-home sections in 10 Chicago and L.A. test stores next month.

Under the latest plan, Kohl’s will pack and ship eligible Amazon returns at no charge to customers in what Kohl’s chief administrative officer Richard Schepp called an “unprecedented and innovative concept.”

“This is a great example of how Kohl’s and Amazon are leveraging each other’s strengths,” he said — “the power of Kohl’s store portfolio and omnichannel capabilities combined with the power of Amazon’s reach and loyal customer base.”

Kohl’s is also providing designated parking spots for Amazon Returns customers near store entrances as an added convenience, the partners said.

The discount junior department store chain will also begin testing interactive smart-home display areas next month featuring Amazon devices, accessories, services and personnel.

The 1,000-square-foot sections will feature the e-tailer’s proprietary Echo, Echo Dot, Fire TV and Fire tablet assortment, which will be available for direct purchase from Amazon. The display spaces will be staffed by Amazon associates who can demo the devices and explain Alexa’s role in creating a connected home.

The sales associates can also schedule home appointments to assess consumers’ IoT needs, and direct shoppers to Amazon Home Services, a local referral program.

Kohl’s will begin the pilot program in October at 10 stores in Los Angeles and Chicago, and described the Amazon-equipped smart-home zones as “a first-of-its-kind experience.”

Despite dismissing physical storefronts as a retail anachronism in the years following its launch, Amazon’s latest moves into brick-and-mortar follow its $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods in August and:

● the opening of 11 bookstores nationwide with two more on the way;
● numerous pop-up mall shops;
● a pilot scan-and-go grocery store;
● at least seven storefront pickup locations; and
● fulfillment centers across the country.