AP NEWS

SHOPPING Stein Mart, Amazon team up

May 23, 2019

Instead of warring against the major disruptor of traditional retail, Stein Mart has decided to join Amazon by installing Amazon Hub Lockers at nearly 200 of its locations, including one in Beaumont.

As of this week, Southeast Texans can have Amazon packages shipped to the North Dowlen Road store and retrieve them from secure lockers with a randomized code. Stein Mart expects to install the lockers in select stores across 28 states by early June.

“We are thrilled to offer this innovative delivery experience to Amazon customers while introducing new shoppers to Stein Mart,” Hunt Hawkins, Stein Mart’s CEO, said in a statement. “Customer service and convenience are top priorities at Stein Mart, and the ability to give both to Amazon customers was a big factor in our decision to introduce this program.”

Amazon customers will be able to find the Beaumont Stein Mart store as an available shipping location during online checkout.

Prior to Beaumont’s locker going live, the closest Amazon Delivery Hub was at a Stripes gas station in Baytown.

While other box stores are depending on their own direct online sales or partnerships with delivery startups, Stein Mart is banking on increasing foot traffic and brand reliance with customers by partnering up with the massive online retailer.

The move seemed to add value to the company, which is based in Jacksonville, Florida.

The stock rose by as much as 45% on Tuesday after the announcement before closing with a gain of 17%. It was down just under 6% at Wednesday’s close. Investors might be hoping that the association with Amazon will lead the way to the brand becoming stronger to consumers, especially in more rural areas without other options for Amazon returns.

The same gamble hasn’t paid off for another off-price retailer.

Kohl’s made a similar announcement that it would be adding lockers in some of its stores this summer, but it wasn’t enough to get a similar boost. Kohl’s reported sales were down 3.5 percent in the first quarter. Its stock was down 3% at Wednesday’s close.

Stein Mart was founded in 1908 by Sam Stein, a Russian Jewish immigrant with plans to create his own department store in Greenville, Mississippi. Stein’s son, Jake Stein, shifted the store’s focus to discount clothing in 1932, and it became a regional powerhouse in the Mississippi Delta around 1970.

Today, the company runs 283 stores across 30 states and offers designer and name-brand fashion apparel, home décor, accessories and shoes at discount prices.

In a consumer study released earlier this month from Adtaxi, a digital marketing company, 81 percent of American responders said Amazon was their go-to retailer, and 7 percent said they use Amazon every day.

Amazon increasingly has been creeping into the backyards of brick-and-mortar stores by creating hubs in large, populous cities and putting lockers in its Whole Foods stores. By creating a program to allow legacy retailers to put lockers at their stores, Amazon will be able to extend its reach to customers without having to invest the kind of resources that seem to entice more traditional shoppers.

“Amazon will go where our customers are and deliver where and when they need us,” Patrick Supanc, Amazon worldwide director of lockers and pickup, said in a statement. “Rolling out Amazon Hub Lockers with Stein Mart is a great opportunity to provide a seamless shopping and delivery experience for our joint customers.”

jacob.dick@beaumontenterprise.com

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