Can Kohl’s Stores Connect With Amazon Customers?

retailers to watch_kohlsIn a year that many have labeled as disruptive, retailers large and small in 2017 have worked to develop new initiatives that serve to further merge store and e-commerce operations while also meeting the ever-changing needs of a more fickle and educated consumer base.

While some retailers have struggled to meet current-day challenges, others have taken positive steps forward to establish foundations upon which they hope to boost sales and gain market share in 2018.

HomeWorld’s first annual Retailers to Watch, in the November 6 issue, looks at eight retailers from various channels making big moves to reinforce their futures. Selected by the HomeWorld editorial staff, each of the retailers chosen are taking aim at top-level sales growth in the year ahead with housewares and home at the forefront of their growth strategies.

Kohl’s

Total Stores: 1,154 (as of Q2 FY2017)

2016 Total Sales (in millions): $18,686

2016 Housewares Sales (in millions): $1,655

OVERVIEW: Remember Kohl’s? A decade ago, the off-mall department store was seen as having an advantage versus its mall-based brethren as its focus on brands and value were attracting shoppers across the country.

Fast-forward a decade and the retail community has been continually asking what’s next for a retailer that in recent years has been challenged by the competitive headwinds of growing e-commerce outlets and consumers turning to other retailers such as those in the off-price segment for home goods and apparel.

Suddenly, Kohl’s is back in the conversation big time when it announced a working agreement with Amazon.com. The relationship led to Kohl’s adding Amazon smart home experience shops in 10 stores while also accepting Amazon.com returns from consumers at 82 Kohl’s locations in Los Angeles and Chicago.

WHAT TO WATCH: What’s next in the Kohl’s/Amazon relationship? That is among the biggest retail questions being asked by industry insiders, and something that housewares suppliers are watching with great interest. In the near-term, Kohl’s has gained a great deal of free— and welcomed— publicity from its new connections to Amazon.

But the relationship with Amazon is not necessarily a silver bullet for Kohl’s. In July, Sears announced it would sell Kenmore products on Amazon, which included the integration of a full line of Kenmore smart appliances with Amazon Alexa. So far, this has done little to give struggling Sears a boost.

In the near term for Kohl’s, however, an expansion of either the initial 10-store test of Amazon smart home shops or expanding the returns program to more Kohl’s stores has the potential to boost store traffic. One or both of these moves would also strengthen the relationship between Kohl’s and Amazon.

It’s been no secret that Amazon has an appetite for brick-and-mortar, as it showed with its purchase of Whole Foods. Might Amazon have an interest in purchasing Kohl’s? Imagine the shockwaves across retail if Amazon suddenly added more than 1,100 locations to its growing empire.

2018 Retailers To Watch (click on name for profile)

The Home Depot

Overstock

Target

H.E.B.

Ollie’s Bargain Outlet

Burlington

Kohl’s

West Elm