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.

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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