By Christine Kern, contributing writer
Trial set to open in 10 select Kohl’s Stores In October
Kohl’s has announced the introduction of a new "Amazon smart home experience" at 10 Kohl’s stores in the Los Angeles and Chicago areas, opening in October. These new spaces are a “first-of-its-kind experience,” allowing customer to purchase Amazon devices, accessories and smart home devices and serviced directly from Amazon, housed within select Kohl’s stores.
“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,” explained Kohl’s chief merchandising and customer officer Michelle Gass. “Kohl’s and Amazon share a customer obsession and we’ve joined together to leverage each other’s strengths and deliver a great customer experience customer can only find at Kohl’s.”
The Smart home experience centers, staffed exclusively by Amazon associates, will feature a hands-on and interactive array of smart home products, including Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Amazon Fire TV, Fire tablets and more. Customers can also schedule an Amazon expert to come to their home, evaluate their needs and install smart home products, as well as accessing Amazon Home Services, a marketplace of local services professionals that offer home care like cleaning and plumbing.
This is not the first time Kohl’s has experimented with a store-within-a-store. In 2015, Kohl’s launched a pilot of two trial coffee cafes in Wisconsin stores in an effort to entice shoppers to linger in-store. The experiment performed below company expectations and the pilot was ended in 2016. The upscale Caribou Coffee cafes offered espresso drinks and other items and were opened in response to sluggish turnaround efforts by the retailer in order to drive traffic and revitalize sales.
The Amazon venture marks another attempt to merge channels and leverage their shoppers’ habits. Though it is admittedly a risky venture on the part of Kohl’s, it is likely to be advantageous to both sides. Kohl’s will likely benefit from more shoppers in-store on Black Friday thanks to the draw of Amazon’s devices, and amazon will have access to that physical retail distribution and allow them access to more online shoppers as well.
“We are thrilled to offer a unique new way for customers to try out our lineup of Alexa-enabled Amazon devices, learn more about our smart home services from Amazon experts and then buy those items directly from Amazon—all within Kohl’s stores,” said Dave Zimmer, vice president, sales and marketing, Amazon Devices. “Teaming up with Kohl’s provides an incredible opportunity to pair world-class customer and shopping experiences.”