Kohl’s is the latest brick-and-mortar retailer to join up with Amazon in an effort to boost sales through “innovation.”
The Wisconsin-based department store will have sections within 10 stores in and around the cities of Los Angeles and Chicago dedicated to Amazon’s smart devices, like the voice-controlled Echo assistant, come October.
Amazon will also be offering accessories and certain of its services in the Kohl’s sections, which will each be about 1,000 square feet and staffed by Amazon associates, along with the ability to buy products directly from Amazon.
“We believe in the power of our store portfolio and know that our future as a best-in-class omnichannel retailer will be driven by how inventive, compelling and unique we can make our store experience,” said Michelle Gass, Kohl’s chief merchandising and customer officer.
Shares of the retailer rose 5.2 percent to $42.50 during the morning, one of the highest levels for the year so far.
Dave Zimmer, Amazon’s vice president of sales and marketing, said the deal with Kohl’s “provides an incredible opportunity to pair world-class customer and shopping experiences.”
The Amazon spaces will not only allow shoppers to see and feel the devices, but they will also be able to schedule an “Amazon expert” to come to their home for an evaluation of where they can use smart products, as well as the use of Amazon Home Services, which uses local professionals for various home services.
Amazon said separately that it’s set to open its first fulfillment center in New York, one of several centers announced this year, which will also operate as a hub for advanced robotics development.
Kohl’s recently said it’s beginning to reformat about half of its 1,100 stores to be smaller through changes to inventory and fixtures, but added that no subleasing was involved. Shortly before that, the retailer posted second-quarter financial figures showing sales down 0.9 percent and profits down 6 percent to $208 million.
While Kohl’s billed the team as “a first-of-its-kind experience,” other retailers have been integrating more advanced tech into their stores.
Wal-Mart, too, recently inked a deal with Google to promote voice shopping through the latter’s own artificial intelligence assistant device. Starting this month, thousands of Wal-Mart products will be available through the assistant, the largest offering of any retailer partnered with Google.
The tech giant has similar deals with Costco, Target and Bed Bath & Beyond.
Wal-Mart ceo Marc Lore said the company’s move “is just the beginning” and that the bulk of Wal-Mart’s 4,700 stores and its fulfillment centers will be linked through voice shopping sometime next year.
“We know this means being compared side-by-side with other retailers, and we think that’s the way it should be,” Lore added at the time. “An open and transparent shopping universe is good for customers.”
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