Kohl’s stores to accept returns – from Amazon
Kohl's is extending its collaboration with Amazon in a way that is almost sure to drive increased traffic into its stores while solving one of the online giant's biggest challenges.
The department store retailer will begin accepting Amazon.com returns at 82 Kohl's stores in Los Angeles and Chicago. The chain will not only ship eligible items back to an Amazon fulfillment center free of charge, but will also pack up the goods for shipping if the customer has not done so.
In addition, parking spots near Kohl's store entrances will be designated for customers making Amazon returns. The program kicks off in October.
“This is a great example of how Kohl’s and Amazon are leveraging each other's strengths – the power of Kohl’s store portfolio and omnichannel capabilities combined with the power of Amazon’s reach and loyal customer base," said Richard Schepp, chief administrative officer, Kohl's.
Earlier this month, Kohl’s announced plans to add an Amazon "smart home experience' in-store shop in 10 select Kohl’s locations across the Los Angeles and Chicago areas starting in October. The 10 Kohl’s stores with the in-store shops will have Amazon returns integrated into the overall Amazon experience, located prominently at the front of the store.
In August, Kohl's announced plans to make nearly half its locations "operationally smaller" through balancing inventory and adjusting fixtures." In a note to clients, Gordon Haskett analyst Chuck Grom wrote that the Kohl's-Amazon returns program is clearly part of the department store retailer's "standard to small" store initiative.
Grom added that the returns program is "an intelligent way for Kohl’s to: leverage unutilized parts of its store footprint and (b) help improve frequency (and potentially drive sales higher) in its stores …. All told, we like the moves Kohl’s is taking as it continue to think outside the box and forward think on how to evolve in today’s quickly changing backdrop."
As for Amazon, the program offers it a new way to tackle one of its biggest challenges: returns. "One of the very few complaints consumers share with Amazon is on the product return front," Grom said.
Kohl's stores to accept returns – from Amazon
This all sounds too easy. Are there any restrictions, prior authorizations, pre-approvals, etc that are required? Thank you
Brixmor works to re-open 14 Irma-damaged properties
A limited number of tenants have been able to re-open their stores at 14 Brixmor properties severely damaged by Hurricane Irma. The company’s remaining 116 properties in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama are open and operating.
The partially opened properties, which were not named in the report from Brixmor, suffered wind and water related damages and power outages.
Brixmor is also assisting the effort to aid citizens in affected areas by providing funding for 300 cribs at Florida shelters housing displaced families. Company employees have also been directed to Habitat for Humanity’s effort to rebuild damaged homes.
"We are again relieved that our employee base in Brixmor's South region and their families are safe," said CEO James Taylor.
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VR: Don’t be a virtual latecomer
If you’re not in gaming or medical arts, virtual reality is likely to be one of those items that sits on your to-do list, but is not likely to be near the top. It’s one of those items for which many a business person elects late-adopter status: Let the tech geeks and early adopters figure it all out and then I’ll jump in when it becomes relevant to me.
Retail real estate execs who fall into that category may want to reconsider. I did after attending this year’s Virtual Reality LA Expo, which was, both literally and figuratively, an eye-opening experience. I came away convinced that VR and AR (augmented reality) are already having a tremendous impact across a wide range of industries. Much of the technology I saw on display has been in use on a global scale for five to 10 years.
VR users can experience what it’s like to walk on the moon, follow Jacques Cousteau to the ocean floor, play in a professional sporting match, and experience human body functions from a macro to micro level. Just imagine the possibilities for retailers and real estate professionals. Rebecca Minkoff employs technology in fitting rooms that lets customers virtually try on clothes. Lowe’s is using a technology that helps remodelers visualize how installations will look in their own home settings. Ikea, a pioneer in the use of augmented reality in catalogs, has launched an app that allows customers to view and rearrange Ikea furniture in their own homes after taking a series of photos of their living spaces. The system has the capacity to let them choose from more than 5,600 virtual products.
Astute real estate developers and leasing companies recognized such a tool as idea for their own needs. Cushman Wakefield has introduced virtual market and property tours on several projects, including the sale of Yamashiro in Hollywood and an office project near the Irvine Spectrum Center. A company called Transported has created a platform that allows users to take virtual tours of neighborhoods and or commercial properties. This is more than a convenience; it’s an opportunity for sellers to add new layers of information and engagement. Pop-ups display market data or detailed information about a building. Interactive menus allow neighborhood searches.
Some Facebook members already own hardware that lets them virtually hang out with friends. Imagine the future implications of a technology that allows one to go to the mall with a friend or family member who lives on the other side of the country. And retailers take note: the technology enables people to make purchases.
Brokers can use virtual tours as another step in the qualification process and acquisition representatives can use them to make critical evaluations about a property’s accessibility, suitability, and value. Prospective tenants can use virtual layouts to select different designs and interiors. IR Architects in California is using software that allows landlords and developers to conduct virtual walkthroughs to evaluate different layouts and design features. Consequently, any changes can be made up-front instead of mid-construction, avoiding delays that could quite literally make a million-dollar difference.
Emerging from the VRLA conference, it was clear to me that playing catch-up in the fast-paced fields of VR and AR was not an option. It’s already too late to be an early adopter, but it’s not too early to abandon any notion of becoming a late one.
Based in Los Angeles, Stephanie Skrbin is a Principal with Avison Young where she is a member of the firm’s national retail services group. She can be reached at [email protected].
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