TECHNOLOGY

Kohl’s competes for hearts of online sports fans with Walmart, Amazon

BY Dan Berthiaume

Kohl’s is significantly expanding its online assortment of sports gear in a deal that will look familiar to Walmart.

The department store chain is entering an exclusive, long-term partnership with sports apparel and gear marketplace Fanatics to broaden its online fan gear assortment beginning in fall 2019. Kohl’s will add hundreds of thousands of items across team apparel, jerseys, and additional merchandise categories.

Kohl’s intends to provide customers of its online Fan Shop access to a deeper selection of products from major professional sports leagues and collegiate properties, including NFL, NCAA, NBA, MLB, NHL, and MLS. Brands available through the joint effort will include Nike, Under Armour, adidas, Majestic, Fanatics, and New Era.

Through this new partnership model, Kohls will directly make the expanded product assortment available through Kohls.com. Fanatics will fulfill and ship customer orders directly. Customers will be able to make purchase via the Kohl’s mobile app and earn and redeem Kohl’s Cash loyalty rewards.

“We are continually seeking opportunities to evolve our product offerings in order to give our customers even more of what they’re looking for, and this expanded partnership with Fanatics conveniently brings more officially licensed products across more favorite sports teams to Kohls.com,” said Doug Howe, Kohl’s chief merchandising officer.

“Kohl’s is a best-in-class retailer, and we’re thrilled to elevate our existing wholesale relationship through this unique new offering which gives Kohl’s customers access to a broader online assortment of fan gear across all sports and teams, including specialty hot market and championship gear,” said Jack Boyle, Fanatics co-president of direct-to-consumer retail. “We’re excited to offer more products directly to customers through the Kohls.com platform – which their loyal customer base is already familiar with – making this a win-win for everyone.”

Walmart launched a similar partnership with Fanatics in January, timed for the Super Bowl. The new “Fan Shop by Fanatics,” live on Walmart’s site, offers thousands of items from professional sports leagues, including merchandise from such brands as Nike, and New Era. The assortment includes officially licensed apparel, jerseys, hats, collectibles, tailgating items and novelty products.

The deal came in the midst of Walmart boosting its acquisitions of, and partnerships with, digitally native brands, giving it access to exclusive goods that Amazon does not have. Now Kohl’s is entering the playing field and competing directly with both larger rivals, with a little help from a ringer.

Along with its own brand, Fanatics operates such sites as NFLShop.com, NBAStore.com and MLBShop.com. It also holds exclusive licensing rights to produce and distribute merchandise for major professional sports leagues and events.

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