There has been much written lately about Amazon and its impact on the retail industry. The behemoth now accounts for 50% of online product searches and for 5% of total U.S. retail sales*. Its sheer size has intimidated many retailers and others are trying to emphasize attributes that such a giant could never possess.

But Kohl’s has chosen another path: rather than fearing Amazon, it has embraced the company as a partner. Now many Kohl’s stores offer Amazon returns: if you bring in an item to send back, Kohl’s will pack it and ship it for free.

Of course, the move is not purely altruistic. I am sure the motivation is to do whatever it takes to get customers into the store – where hopefully they will be lured into making a purchase while there. Whether it works out that way or not, I applaud Kohl’s for an innovative experiment that acknowledges Amazon’s clout but does not succumb to it.

Think of how your organization can draw parallels from the Kohl’s/Amazon agreement. Can you forge an unlikely partnership that capitalizes on another’s size while leveraging that strength for your own organization? Is there an organization in your industry to which you have conceded the market when you should have rethought your positioning instead? How can you service the customers of another provider?

Kohl’s faced the tiger instead of fearing it. Maybe the same opportunity is available to you.

*Source: The Future of Retail in the Age of Amazon by Austin Carr in Fast Company, December 2018/January 2018, p. 94-114.

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