Kohl’s Opened Amazon Return Centers & Foot Traffic Grew 12%

Last year, an unusual retail deal got worked out in which Amazon set up return centers in some 81 Kohl’s stores in Chicago and LA. Everyone in the retail world was shocked. Why would Kohl’s help the enemy with an arrangement like this?

Surprisingly the deal benefited both companies. Of course, Amazon got a better return experience for customers. But Kohl’s got a lot, too.

Foot traffic for Kohl’s increased by 12%, according to data from my company UberMedia. And as you know, foot traffic in stores has the potential to translate to increased sales. Kohl’s can reasonably expect that some folks who returned Amazon items actually stepped into their stores and shopped.  And chances are that quite a few of them might not otherwise visit a Kohl’s.

“We’re a few months into it, but we know one thing for sure: The experience is amazing and people are using the service,” Kohl’s CEO Kevin Mansell told CNBC. He noted that that driving traffic has been Kohl’s No. 1 priority for two years.

Driving traffic is harder than ever. In this day and age where people order meals via mobile, use on-demand services galore, and know “there’s an app for that,” brick and mortars are especially challenged to get bodies into stores. It’s no small task.

Of course once people come into a store, the job is to motivate them to buy. In this case, Kohl’s will need to convert feet to mean dollars at the register. But the boost in foot traffic definitely gives them new opportunities to monetize.

This is just one example of how retailers need to be thinking and innovating. But there are reasons to have hope. Just think—Amazon had long been exclusively online for years.

But since we live in a physical world, the e-commerce behemoth adjusted with innovative solutions to physical spaces: Amazon Go, Amazon Locker, buying Whole Foods, and now working with Kohl’s.

And remember: Approximately 85% of shopping still occurs within a store.

I know this partnership is a real a win-win for both companies. It might have sounded risky at first, but to win in today’s retail environment, you need to think about how to use your locations to your best advantage.

So think about how partnerships might work for you and increase the feet you see at your store.

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