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Kohl’s (NYSE:KSSC) and Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZNC) have struck a deal that allows Amazon customers to return items to 82 Kohl’s stores in the Chicago and Los Angeles areas. This move follows an agreement earlier this month in which Kohl’s agreed to sell Alexa-enabled Echo home speakers, Fire TV devices, tablets and other Amazon-branded devices in 10 of its stores.

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Competition To Collaboration

This partnership is Kohl’s answer to a problem that has plagued retailers for several years – how to compete with Amazon, a company that didn’t mind razor thin (or non-existent) margins and offered the convenience of home shopping and 2-day delivery.

Some, like Toys ‘R’ Us have failed with that company filing for bankruptcy protection late Monday. Others such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE:WMTC) and Target Corp. (NYSE:TGTC) have done better. Still others, like Sears Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ:SHLDD) have gone the Kohl’s route, agreeing to sell Kenmore appliances, including some that are compatible with Alexa, on Amazon.

Amazon Going ‘Real World’

All this comes as Amazon moves to become both an online retailer and a real world bricks-and-mortar entity. The latest entry in that transition came with Amazon’s $13.7 billion purchase of Whole Foods Markets. This gave Amazon instantly 450 real grocery stores all over the U.S.

Amazon’s real-world path includes everything mentioned above plus lockers where Amazon orders can be picked up in convenience stores, college stores as pickup locations, bookstores and AmazonFresh pickup of groceries ordered online.

The World HQ Contest

Meanwhile, competition continues for the biggest ‘real-world’ presence of all – Amazon’s second world headquarters to be located in a city to be named later. Among the contestants, Chicago, St. Louis, Austin, New York, Boston, Washington, Atlanta and others.

The winning metropolis will give up a big tax break but pick up a gigantic corporate presence and 50,000 tax-paying employees making an average salary of $100,000. The competition will be fierce and the deadline is 4 weeks away.

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The Netflix Solution

While cities gear up to woo Amazon and competitors line up to become partners, Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLXC) CEO Reed Hastings has taken another tack. Hastings says his company is not trying to be all things to all customers – a la Amazon. Instead, Hastings says, Netflix will try to be the “emotional connection” brand like HBO. He compared Amazon to Wal-Mart and Netflix to Starbucks.

This strategy, which others may decide to follow, is all about what not to do. According to Hastings, it’s fruitless to try to compete or collaborate with Amazon. Instead, he says, it’s better to just be yourself.



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