Amazon is expanding its fulfillment partnerships with two major retailers on two continents, scaling up its in-store returns program with Kohl’s nationwide and installing pickup lockers in 1,000 France-based Casino stores.
All Kohl’s stores will be accepting free, unpackaged returns for Amazon customers starting in July 2019. Kohl’s and Amazon first partnered in 2017 to pilot the returns program, which is currently operating in 100 stores in the Los Angeles, Chicago and Milwaukee markets. Kohl’s and Amazon will roll out the program to all of Kohl’s 1,150+ locations across 48 states. As part of the expansion, Kohl’s will accept eligible Amazon items without a box or label, and return them at no charge for customers.
The program has proven to be a major success for Kohl’s so far, at least in Chicago, according to data from Earnest Research. Chicago regional sales, transactions and customer growth all outpaced the same metrics nationwide for 2018, with new customers up 9% compared to 1% elsewhere, the research indicated.
By the summer of 2018, approximately 7% to 8% of Kohl’s customers in Chicago were making Amazon returns, compared to 3% in the rest of the U.S. Chicago regional sales growth tracked very closely to the rest of the U.S. until Q1 2018, where revenue growth topped more than 10%, versus 5% elsewhere. The Amazon partnership’s ability to drive traffic to stores has clearly made an impression on Kohl’s, which has since begun dividing up select physical locations to make room for tenants such as Aldi and even Planet Fitness.
The Amazon-Kohl’s partnership goes beyond returns; last month, Kohl’s announced that it will expand its product relationship with the e-Commerce giant by carrying Amazon products in more than 200 stores.
Across the Atlantic, Amazon will be installing pickup lockers in nine of Casino’s supermarket banners across France by the end of 2019, so shoppers can retrieve Amazon purchases when they visit these approximately 1,000 stores.
The Casino partnership is built off an initial agreement with the grocer’s high-end Monoprix supermarket chain. As part of the deal, Monoprix sells groceries through Amazon Prime Now using a dedicated virtual store, with Monoprix employees picking the items in-store and Amazon handling delivery. The deal initially covered Paris and its surrounding suburbs, but under the expansion, Monoprix revealed that it will expand the service to new cities within the next 12 months. Additionally, approximately 3,500 Casino-branded products will be made available on Amazon.
The partnership extension comes as Casino is selling assets and cutting debt to try to calm financial concerns from both investors and majority shareholder Rallye.
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