(Bigstock Photo) Amazon’s unlikely alliance with Kohl’s is getting even tighter. Starting in July, Kohl’s will begin accepting returns for items purchased on Amazon at, more than 1,150 in total. The move marks a major expansion of a two-year-old partnership between the retailers. It started in 2017 with a pilot program at 10 stores and a year later. Kohl’s accepts items without a box or shipping label, free of charge. It then repackages the items and sends them off to Amazon return centers. For Kohl’s, the Amazon partnership is one of several initiatives to bring more traffic to its stores. Amazon furthers its brick and mortar presence and gives its customers another easy option for returns without having to add additional real estate. “We are thrilled to bring Amazon Returns at Kohl’s to all of our stores across the country,” Kohl’s CEO Michelle Gass said in a statement. “Amazon and Kohl’s have a shared passion in providing outstanding customer service, and this unique partnership combines Kohl’s strong nationwide store footprint and omnichannel capabilities with Amazon’s reach and customer loyalty. This new service is another example of how Kohl’s is delivering innovation to drive traffic to our stores and bring more relevance to our customers.” is up 9 percent in early morning trading on news of the expanded partnership with Amazon. Shares in the retail have risen close to 23 percent so far this year. Kohl’s also sells Amazon devices in more than 200 of its stores. In addition to dedicating some square footage in its stores to selling Amazon items and taking returns, Kohl’s has shrunk some stores and to Planet Fitness for gyms. These moves show the creative approaches retailers are taking to increase traffic in stores as they compete with e-commerce companies. Earlier this year, GeekWire managing editor Taylor Soper named Kohl’s as a possible . Here’s why: Amazon has already , installing smart-home boutiques and opening return centers inside Kohl’s locations. Don’t be surprised to see Amazon take the more ambitious step of swooping up Kohl’s, especially given the tech giant’s recent investments in online apparel and physical retail. Bonus: Kohl’s CEO Michelle Gates has Seattle roots, earning her MBA from the University of Washington and working more than 16 years at Starbucks.
Amazon Go in Seattle. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser) Amazon is responding to growing criticism of retailers that don’t accept cash, which advocates for the poor say is a discriminatory practice. The tech giant confirmed plans to start accepting cash at its Amazon Go convenience stores Wednesday as legislators across the country push for laws that ban cashless retail. Amazon did not provide a timeline for when it will implement its cash plan, which was . New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Philadelphia all have laws that require retailers to accept cash and other lawmakers are . Their concern is for the unbanked, an estimated 6.5 percent of American households that don’t have access to financial services . That makes stores like Amazon Go — where customers pluck items off of shelves and walk out with them as their accounts are charged automatically — nearly impossible to patronize for millions of people. Amazon’s decision to incorporate cash into the technology allows them to reach more customers and avoid regulatory scrutiny. Amazon currently has 10 checkout-free stores across Seattle, Chicago, and San Francisco. The company is considering opening up to 3,000 by 2021, , a massive expansion plan that would require opening more than 100 stores a month.