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Kohl's to offer in-store 'Amazon Smart Home Experience'

The department store chain is teaming with the online retail juggernaut and hoping to use Amazon's gadgets to lure customers through the doors.

Amazon gadgets such as the Echo smart speaker and Fire TV streamer are headed to Kohl's locations in LA and Chicago.

Sarah Tew/CNET

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

That's the newest strategy for the department store chain Kohl's, which is partnering with Amazon to create 1,000-square-foot "Amazon Smart Home Experiences" in 10 of its locations, Bloomberg reports. Customers can expect to see devices like the Fire TV streamer and the Amazon Echo smart speaker on display, complete with compatible smart home gadgets they can test out with a voice command.

Should any of Kohl's customers decide to take a gadget or two home with them, they can buy them direct from Amazon right there in the store. "Teaming up with Kohl's provides an incredible opportunity to pair world-class customer and shopping experiences," said Dave Zimmer, Amazon Devices' vice president of sales and marketing.

For Kohl's, it's all about borrowing some of Amazon's tech appeal to help get customers through the doors at a time when more and more people are staying home to shop online instead. "We believe in the power of our store portfolio and know that our future as a best-in-class omnichannel retailer will be driven by how inventive, compelling and unique we can make our store experience," said Michelle Gass, Kohl's chief merchandising and customer officer.

The move comes as Amazon continues to expand into physical retail, most notably by way of its recent acquisition of the Whole Foods chain of groceries for $13.7 billion. Meanwhile, names such as Walmart and Home Depot are teaming up with Google in their own efforts to adapt to the changing landscape of retail, and to the existential threat represented by Amazon.

The Smart Home Experience is headed to Kohl's locations in LA and Chicago this October. When contacted for comment, neither company would say whether or not they'll eventually expand it to any of Kohl's other 1,100 stores.

"We have a longstanding policy of not commenting on our roadmap," an Amazon spokesperson said.