Amazon is teaming up with another retail competitor to offer customers more places to return products.
The Seattle retailer confirmed that it recently began testing a partnership with pet giant Petco, which will accept returns from customers who purchased items on Amazon.com.
Amazon did something similar in 2017 when it started accepting returns at Kohl’s stores. It also uses Whole Foods locations and Amazon Fresh grocery stores as return drop-off sites, and last year Amazon partnered with office supplies company Staples.
The strategy lets Amazon grow its physical footprint for returns without adding real estate.
For retailers like Petco and Staples, inking these deals with Amazon helps bring customers into their stories — though after they’ve bought products from their retail rival. Some offer in-store coupons to Amazon customers making returns at their store. Kohl’s said it added 2 million new customers in 2020 thanks to its Amazon partnership.
Petco operates more than 1,500 locations across the U.S., Mexico, and Puerto Rico. The company reported net revenue of $1.53 billion in the second quarter, up 3.4% year-over-year.
A survey from Jungle Scout found that nearly a quarter of pet owners shop for pet products most frequently on Amazon. Pet food alone is a $1.4 billion industry on Amazon, according to the report.
Amazon helped set the standard for free online returns but more retailers — including Amazon — are charging for returns with rising shipping and labor costs.
Earlier this year Amazon began charging some customers $1 for returns made at UPS stores (if there is a free option closer to the delivery address) in a bid to reduce expenses. It also rolled out a new feature that flagged “frequently returned” products.
Amazon says most customers have at least one label-free, box-free return drop-off point within a 5-mile radius.