Amazon & Kohl’s; Walmart & Google — Blurring the Lines Between Online and In-Store Shopping


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You know the saying, “two heads are better than one”? For many companies, this phrase is playing out in new marketing partnerships which allow for better consumer experiences than either company could provide on their own.

Amazon and Kohl’s Bridging Clicks with Bricks

Recently Kohl’s announced that it will begin accepting returns at certain U.S. locations, where they will pack and ship eligible items — back to an Amazon fulfillment center — for free.

“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, Kohl’s chief administrative officer.

Additionally, specific Kohl’s stores will feature an Amazon Smart Home Experience which will provide a hands-on, interactive experience for consumers to try out a variety of Amazon devices.

“Kohl’s and Amazon share a customer obsession and we’ve joined together to leverage each other’s strengths and deliver a great experience … said future CEO, now chief merchandising and customer officer Michelle Gass.

“The whole retail industry is going through a massive transformation,” said Gass. “Those who ultimately are going to survive and thrive through this period are going to think differently…In terms of us staying relevant and interesting, surprising, engaging, it’s doing things like this, so that in the end we can take market share and win over (the) long term…[It’s] a bit of a laboratory to understand how customers engage with this kind of experience inside of Kohl’s.”

Dave Zimmer, vice president, sales and marketing, Amazon Devices commented. “Teaming up with Kohl’s provides an incredible opportunity to pair world-class customer and shopping experiences.”

Wal-Mart & Google Joining Up to Offer Voice-Enabled Shopping

In September, Wal-Mart shoppers could start linking their Wal-Mart accounts to Google Express to rapidly order via voice on Google Home or by shopping on Google Express. And while other retailers do offer items on Google Express, Wal-Mart’s partnership is the only one that allows consumers to link their user account with Google Express, enabling Google to use consumers’ past Wal-Mart order history to learn shopping patterns and recommend suitable products.

The integration will allow consumers to use a voice-device to state that they want to order a specific product. The platform will note their past purchase and ask if they’d like to re-order the same product again. If so, the order is seamlessly placed. Wal-Mart will be the first with this capability.

“We’re thrilled to partner with one of the most popular stores in America to help make your shopping faster and easier,” said Sridhar Ramaswamy, Google’s senior vice president of ads and commerce.

Wal-Mart’s head of e-commerce, Marc Lore  noted on the partnership, “It makes sense for us to team up with Google… We know this means being compared side-by-side with other retailers, and we think that’s the way it should be…An open and transparent shopping universe is good for customers…”


1. Consumers are blurring the lines between online and instore shopping with web-rooming and show-rooming.
Now retailers are following suit to provide the same. Marketers need to take heed of this trend to provide seamless Ecommerce and physical avenues to shoppers who may want to surf and shop in store or touch ‘n feel and order online.

2. Today’s shopper is looking for advanced technology to simplify their busy lives.
Marketers need to begin utilizing the home-based cell, web and interactive devices that consumers now commonly own to provide enhanced shopping experiences with greater accessibility.

Ernan Roman
Ernan Roman (@ernanroman) is president of ERDM Corp. and author of Voice of the Customer Marketing. He was inducted into the DMA Marketing Hall of Fame due to the results his VoC research-based CX strategies achieve for clients such as IBM, Microsoft, QVC, Gilt and HP. ERDM conducts deep qualitative research to help companies understand how customers articulate their feelings and expectations for high value CX and personalization. Named one of the Top 40 Digital Luminaries and one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Marketing.


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