Kohl’s positions stores, supply chain for holidays

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Kohl’s is taking numerous steps to provide customers omnichannel access to holiday products they want, when they want them.

Kohl’s Corp. is preparing for a holiday season it sees as delivering both joy and chaos.

In a video press briefing attended by Chain Store Age, Doug Howe, chief merchandising officer for Kohl’s, said the company is observing three major trends driving consumer demand for the 2021 holiday season – optimism, casualization, and purpose.

“We are encouraged by the early popularity of search terms such as ‘family pajamas,’” said Howe. “Consumers are looking forward to the opportunity to gather with friends and family that was not provided last year. Casualization is a major tailwind for us. Kohl’s has always had a strong position in casual, and especially in the apparel and home categories, customers want to be cozy, casual and comfortable.”

Howe also said consumers are looking for brands and products with a purpose.

“Purpose means Black- and female-owned brands, clean beauty products and sustainable apparel,” said Howe.

Paul Gaffney, chief technology and supply chain officer for Kohl’s, said the retailer is repositioning inventory into stores so that orders can be fulfilled directly from the store, closer to the customer.

“This will help us deal with last mile issues where shipping might be challenging,” said Gaffney. “We are lining up capacity and ensuring we have enough commitment both from long-standing supply chain partners and new suppliers. The supply chain is delivering chaos, not joy right now. We’re ensuring we have the maximum amount of merchandise to sell from the week before Thanksgiving through the holidays.”

Kohl’s has also announced a number of other new and enhanced holiday shopping services. During the holidays, Kohl’s will increase the number of designated drive up parking spots for customers opting to pick up online orders at their local store.

Additionally, Kohl’s will add new, pop-up pickup locations within select stores to support the increased demand for in-store pickup of online orders during the season. Kohl’s has also made upgrades to associate technology that supports the buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) order fulfillment process to help ensure a faster and more efficient process for both associates and customers.

Kohl’s is also piloting new self-pick up and self-return options in 300 select stores this holiday season. With self-pick up, customers can quickly pick up online purchases in-store by visiting a designated area in the store where they can access the item through a personalized link and code. For self-returns, customers can initiate product returns from their phone before they arrive at the store.

In stores, customers will also find multi-category gift assortments, such as Presentville to find gifts for the family, Celebrate Together for unique holiday presents and Jammies for Your Families pajamas to help continue special family traditions. Additional holiday gift zones will highlight seasonal trends such as outerwear, fleece, sweaters, and cozy slippers.

On the digital side, Kohl’s has also removed steps from the online and mobile checkout process. Kohl’s is work with many content creators this season across Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram. Partnering with Pinterest, Kohl's will create an immersive shoppable experience that allows customers to explore Kohl's products in decorated home settings for the holiday season.

Kohl’s will also leverage TikTok to create a challenge centered around music and dance, encouraging consumers to share their own dances, inspired by the company’s holiday brand spot. To showcase key holiday events such as Black Friday, Kohl’s will leverage Instagram Live to share real-time gifting inspiration, making it easy to purchase in the moment. New this year, live shopping will also expand to TikTok with content focused on helping consumers create shopping lists.

Furthermore, Kohl’s will once again operate omnipower centers in nearly 300 of its stores to help meet customer demand. These omnipower centers increase capabilities during peak periods by equipping the stores with more inventory, technology and process improvements for associate efficiency. To support the company’s continued growth in digital sales, earlier this year, Kohl’s opened its sixth e-commerce fulfillment center. The company also recently launched a bonus program to support the hiring of 90,000 seasonal holiday employees.

“We built our holiday campaign this year with a spirit that we hope people can relate to. At our core, we know customers look to Kohl’s for gifting inspiration, unmatched value and an easy shopping experience,” said Greg Revelle, Kohl’s chief marketing officer. “We will of course deliver all of this, but this year we’re going a step further beyond gifting to highlight the spirit of belonging and connectedness, as it is embedded and felt in all of our unique holiday traditions.”