Kohl’s to partner with e-commerce giant on in-store shops
Yet another traditional retailer is partnering with Amazon, as the online behemoth continues to expand its presence in brick-and- mortar stores.
Kohl's plans to add an Amazon "smart home experience' in-store shop, or "zone," in 10 select Kohl’s locations across the Los Angeles and Chicago areas starting in October. The spaces will allow shoppers to try out and purchase Amazon devices, accessories and smart home devices and services directly from the online retailer.
"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, VP, sales and marketing, Amazon Devices. “Teaming up with Kohl’s provides an incredible opportunity to pair world-class customer and shopping experiences.”
The 1,000-sq.ft. smart home space in Kohl's will provide a hands-on experience where customers can interact with a variety of Amazon devices, including Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Amazon Fire TV, and Fire tablets. The experience will showcase how smart home products – many powered by Alexa – can modernize and simplify home management, entertainment, security and more. It will be staffed by Amazon sales associates.
Customers will be able schedule an Amazon expert to come to their home, evaluate their needs and install smart home products. The in-store zones will also promote Amazon Home Services, which offers access to vetted local services professionals to help with everything around the house from cleaning to plumbing.
"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,” said Michelle Gass, Kohl’s chief merchandising and customer officer. “Kohl’s and Amazon share a customer obsession and we’ve joined together to leverage each other’s strengths and deliver a great experience customers can only find at Kohl’s.”
Amazon's partnership with Kohl's comes several months after Sears announced it would sell its Kenmore brand appliances on Amazon.com.
The mattress wars are heating up
There’s more disruption in the mattress category at retail.
West Elm has entered into a partnership with hot online mattress company Leesa Sleep, which will replace another hot online startup — Casper — as the home furnishings retailer’s official mattress partner. The news come on the heels of Casper’s announcement that it will open up more than a dozen pop-up stores in cities nationwide.
As of this week, Leesa’s mattress will be rolling out into 80 plus of West Elm’s stores across the country. The brand will also be sold on the company’s website.
“Leesa’s mission is to provide a better place to sleep for everybody through thoughtfully designed and crafted products that meet the highest standards of overall social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability,” said Leesa co-founder and CEO David Wolfe. “After beginning our journey as an online-only company, we are thrilled to bring our product to West Elm’s stores, a brand that we believe shares our same mission in measuring success not just by financial results, but by our impact on the world.”
Founded in 2014, Leesa, similar to Casper, offers a 100-day free trial and no-hassle returns. Leesa has a strong social component, and donates one mattress for every 10 that it sells, working with more than 50 homeless shelters across the nation. West Elm also emphasizes community involvement, and is committed to Fair Trade programs, and investing in local artists and designers.
In keeping with West Elm’s and Leesa’s shared commitment to community, Leesa will donate 1,000 mattresses to charitable organizations in communities where West Elm operates stores.
“We strive to help our customers make conscious purchasing decisions that not only reflect their personal style, but can also positively impact their local communities and the world,” said Alex Bellos, president, West Elm, a division of Williams-Sonoma. “We hope to offer our customers more than one way to make a meaningful difference through their purchases, whether it’s a Leesa American-made mattress, 100% organic cotton bedding or one of our many Fair Trade Certified products.”
Chute Gerdeman acquired
Retail design firm Chute Gerdeman has been acquired by FCB (Foote, Cone & Belding) Chicago, part of the Interpublic Group of Companies.
The Columbus, Ohio-based Chute Gerdeman will now align with FCB/RED, the company's retail and shopper marketing division, to deliver full omnichannel retail marketing and connected physical branded experiences.
FCB/RED provides expertise in retail marketing, branded content and experiences, activation and digital. It has often worked with third-party teams to provide full store environmental design scale and build out. Chute Gerdeman, with a core competency in the retail and restaurant categories, fills this space in FCB/RED's offerings. The newly expanded retail and shopper marketing division will be led by Tina Manikas, president of FCB/RED.
"Creating Chute Gerdeman and growing the company has been my life's work," said Denny Gerdeman, co-founder and chairman of Chute Gerdeman. "The people here have been essential to its success and I owe it to them to ensure a path forward. FCB/RED acquiring Chute Gerdeman creates a way to do just that. This is an opportunity for our team to expand their already vast retail and restaurant knowledge all while exposing them to new methods of strategy and design."
Chute Gerdeman will retain its name and Columbus office, as well as its full complement of strategic, creative and implementation teams.
"This partnership will allow for more opportunities to effectively and proactively engage and solve the challenges of retail today," said Brian Shafley, CEO, Chute Gerdeman. "Chute Gerdeman's proven ability to deliver best-in-class physical experiences connecting with shoppers corresponds perfectly with FCB/RED's shopper marketing and insights expertise."
The acquisition highlights the evolution of today's retail industry and the value in offering an end-to-end retail solution for companies with a brick-and-mortar presence. As brick-and-mortar retail continues to merge with online experiences, customers are still visiting physical locations on their path to purchase, often finalizing their retail transactions in store as opposed to online.
FCB/RED is the global, shopper-first brand agency of FCB, a fully integrated marketing communications agency that has more than 8,000 employees in 120 offices in 80 countries.