Kohl’s recently announced that they will beginning accepting Amazon returns in all of their stores (Kohl’s Offers Amazon Returns). This was an extension of a pre-existing partnership – Kohl’s had been accepting returns in 80 stores before the announcement, and had been selling selected Amazon products in some stores as well.
The market reacted positively to the news – Kohl’s stock surged 10% the day of the announcement, and has remained above pre-announcement levels since. However, the question is whether such a move is in the best long-term interest of Kohl’s (or any other retailer). Vladimir Lenin once famously observed, when commenting on the fight between communism and capitalism, that “the Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.”
Amazon clearly benefits from this partnership – they gain over 1,100 brick and mortar return centers around the country, and have an additional outlet for selected merchandise lines as well. Kohl’s will gain some short-term customer traffic from this partnership, but it’s hard to see how it helps them in the long run. Some might surmise that Kohl’s is positioning themselves to be the soft goods brick and mortar outlet for Amazon (similar to Whole Foods in the food sector), but that would be dependent on an acquisition, which is unlikely at best.