business news in context, analysis with attitude

Yesterday, we took note of a CNBC report that just weeks after announcing that it will begin selling Amazon’s Alexa-powered devices and Kindles at 10 of its stores, department store chain Kohl’s said that some of its stores will begin accepting Amazon returns, packing and shipping eligible items to Amazon fulfillment centers for free. And, not only will Kohl’s take Amazon returns, but it also will designate certain parking spaces near store entrances as being specifically for Amazon customers making returns.

I commented, in part:

There’s a part of me that thinks that while Kohl’s appears to be bending over backwards to accommodate Amazon and its customers, what it really is doing is bending over forward, and the long-term result is inevitable.

Partnerships can be important … but Kohl’s in this case is not just selling devices that will allow people to buy the products it sells from Amazon, but now also is giving its competitor’s customers preferred parking. I think the message to its traditional customers is pretty clear … and not helpful in terms of its long-term credibility.

One MNB reader wrote:

The funniest thing I’ve heard from Amazon is that Kohl’s will do their returns at some locations. Have you ever tried to return anything to Kohl’s???

It’s one of the worst.  Find the back corner of the store, stand in line (always a long line), then watch them “harrumph” their way through your return!

The only place worse to return something is to Target – but at least their customer service desks are up front.

I would love to do a study on how much UNWANTED merchandise people now own because no one really wants to go through the hassle of shipping things back – and going to a Kohl’s isn’t a much better prospect.

I know online shopping is the only way forward – but I truly feel we’ll still have decent stores out there because people want to buy something and take it back easily if it doesn’t work out.
Nordstrom is the best at this!  I actually think their no-merchandise stores idea can work – because they have a great selection on line and returning is easy.

From another reader, Bob Overstreet:

I think that the partnership between Kohl’s and Amazon is a great idea.  I actually like Kohl's, but the only time I have been in their stores is picking up on line orders.  Each time I picked something up, I bought something else in the store.  If they put the pick up in the back of the store and make (potential)  customers walk a gauntlet of good buys, they will benefit.  I also think the preferred parking will make other Kohl’s customers ask “what is Kohl’s doing with Amazon.”  I would expect to soon see a Kohl’s online store soon on too.

And from another:

It struck, me as I read this story, that there is no way for Kohl’s to enforce the Amazon preferred parking. I don’t shop at Kohl’s but if I ever see Amazon preferred parking in front of a store where I do shop, if I’m unable to think of another store to make my purchase, I will park in the Amazon parking out of spite.

You probably park your SUV in the spots reserved for fuel efficient vehicles, too.

We also had a story yesterday about Halo Top ice cream, which is low-calorie and where the founders developed a business model that is low on infrastructure and big on being nimble. One MNB reader, Cindi Sandy, wasn’t impressed:

I do not know of one person that actually likes this stuff.  It’s terrible.

I’d never eaten it, so last night I asked my daughter to go out and pick up a couple of pints - Cookies & Cream and Red Velvet - for us to try.

The general agreement here was that it wasn’t all that bad - very thin, but the attraction to my daughter and her friends seem to be the ability to eat a pint in one sitting and only take in 350 calories or so.

Me, I’d rather eat two or three tablespoons of Graeter’s. Especially the Blueberry Pie flavor they just brought out.
KC's View: