The connection clicked — and Amazon and Kohl’s Corp. are growing much closer, with the web giant potentially taking a significant stake in the retailer.
Kohl’s said Tuesday it was expanding its pilot with Amazon and will start accepting returns for the e-commerce giant at all of its 1,150 stores. The off-mall retailer had been testing a closely watched return program with Amazon at a total of 100 doors in Los Angeles, Chicago and Milwaukee. The retailer accepts Amazon items, without a box or label, and returns them for free.
In addition, in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Kohl’s said that in connection with the commercial agreement, an Amazon affiliate, Amazon NV Investment Holdings, received a warrant to buy up to 1,747,441 Kohl’s shares, or about 1.1 percent of the company.
The warrant vests over five years, starting in January 2020.
“Upon vesting, the warrant shares may be acquired at an exercise price of $69.68 subject to certain customary anti-dilution provisions,” the regulatory filing from Kohl’s said.
“Amazon acknowledged its intention to acquire the warrant and warrant shares for investment only and not with a view toward their distribution, and appropriate legends will be affixed to the warrant and the warrant shares,” the filing said.
The warrant is an intriguing detail and one that suggests Amazon’s approach to bricks and mortar is evolving. Already the online leader has bought directly into physical retail, acquiring Whole Foods, and has launched its own concepts, including the cashier-less Amazon Go concept and Amazon 5-star.
The partnership with Kohl’s shows another potential path forward, one characterized by a kind of growing cooperation that leads to closer and closer ties.
Kohl’s investors liked the deal and pushed shares of the retailer up 7.4 percent in early trading to $72.34, giving the company a market capitalization of $11.9 billion. Amazon stock was up 1.1 percent to $1,907.99.
It’s a collaboration that comes with certain costs.
The Kohl’s filing said: “The company anticipates the Amazon returns program will affect the company’s results of operations to include, among other things, an impact on sales and selling, general and administrative expenses. The company is currently assessing the impact and intends to provide an update in connection with its first quarter earnings release.”
However, providing the service helps drive more consumers to Kohl’s stores, apparently enough to make it worth while.
“Amazon and Kohl’s have a shared passion in providing outstanding customer service, and 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 chief executive officer. “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 also recently expanded its product relationship with Amazon and will start carrying merchandise from the online merchant in more than 200 stores. Kohl’s started selling Amazon items, such as its Echo assistant, in 10 stores in 2017.