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Most major retailers now offer ways to get free shipping — a junior varsity move when it comes to competing with Amazon.
Retailers are seeing that to play in the big leagues, they need to make more extreme tweaks to how they do things.
So, grocery and department stores alike are throwing spaghetti against the wall, hoping something will stick.
Here’s what we know:
1. Walmart offers automated online returns.
Mobile Express Returns showed up in the fall of 2017, helping Walmart to make another splash in the e-commerce world.
(The first splash was in the summer of 2016 when Walmart bought Jet.com, who at the time was a legit Amazon competitor.)
To use Mobile Express Returns, customers just download the Walmart app, select “Return” and walk past the long customer service lines to scan their phone and leave their unwanted items.
Also, Walmart is slowly adding online-exclusive brands like Moosejaw in order to attract online shoppers.
2. Target takes on Amazon Prime Day.
Amazon Prime day is always the second Tuesday in July.
It’s billed as Amazon’s version of Black Friday with steep savings on all Amazon-brand merchandise and deals on everything from TVs to beauty products.
But this year, Target showed up with their game face on during Prime Day, offering discounts on Google smart home devices, Target home brands and beauty products.
3. Sam’s Club lets shoppers scan their phones to pay.
Many retailers believe making the shopping experience more efficient and convenient is key to competing with Amazon.
Sister company Walmart also tried out Scan & Go, but discontinued it earlier this year, citing low participation.
4. Kroger is experimenting with robo-cars that deliver groceries.
Amazon Prime Now is a clear threat to grocery sales across the nation.
But as long as Amazon is only offering perishables from Whole Foods, it seems traditional grocery stores still have time to compete in the grocery delivery games because they can beat Amazon on price.
Kroger is the latest to test grocery delivery with self-driving cars delivering groceries to certain parts of Arizona.
5. Kohl’s welcomes Amazon returns at certain locations.
There are over 82 Kohl’s locations in Chicago and Los Angeles where you can return your Amazon purchase and shop Amazon smart home merchandise (think: Alexa devices like Echo, Dot, and Tap).
We’ve been waiting to see if Kohl’s expands its partnership with Amazon by offering this feature to more stores. The jury is still out!
6. J.Crew now has a discount store to draw thrifty shoppers.
J.Crew has converted many of its full-line stores into discount stores that sell made-for-factory type of clothing.
These are called J.Crew Mercantile (“Factory”) stores. The brand is still “J.Crew,” but items sold in the Merc stores are not available in the full-line stores and vice versa. Prices are comparable to Gap, and shoppers can get up to 60% savings on jeans.
This pivot comes not only from Amazon but also in light of sales numbers showing discount stores like T.J.Maxx, Ross and Nordstrom Rack outperforming regular full-line and department stores.