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Amazon or Wal-Mart? Some retailers are choosing alliances

By The Associated Press

This article was published November 14, 2017 at 11:43 a.m.

NEW YORK — Store chains feeling the upheaval in retail are making strategic alliances — and that can mean picking sides.

Kohl's shoppers can find Amazon devices at some stores, and return items they bought from the online retailer. Nike has made some of its sneakers available through Amazon. The owner of Sears is selling Kenmore-branded appliances on Amazon in some markets. And Best Buy is teaming up with Amazon for voice shopping.

Meanwhile, Wal-Mart, which has the most store locations, is assembling a coalition of its own: buying smaller online brands and becoming the highest-profile partner to Google in voice shopping. And the discount chain that touts low prices announced a web partnership Monday with high-end department store Lord & Taylor.

"When you are in an historic uncharted chaotic situation, you often see these strange bedfellows," said Joel Bines, co-head of AlixPartners' retail practice and a managing director at the firm.

Since the beginning of the year, several retailers have filed for bankruptcy protection, including well-known names like Toys R Us. And retailers have announced thousands of store closings, with more expected. Analysts say some brands realize they might not succeed alone.

"You have to be challenging accepted norms. So you might find partners that you normally wouldn't have considered," said Wendy Liebmann, CEO of WSL Strategic Retail. "This has exploded because of the urgency to change. You look at retailers who are closing or struggling."

So as Amazon moves even further into fashion, home electronics and grocery stores, and cements shopper loyalty with its $99-a-year Prime membership, stores are developing partnerships with the online retailer to increase customer traffic or expand their offerings online.

Read Wednesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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