Physical stores are 'critical' no matter where consumers choose to shop, Kohl's CEO says

  • "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer sat down with Kohl's Chairman, President and CEO Kevin Mansell to discuss his outlook on retail.
  • Mansell spoke to his company's partnership with Amazon and stressed the importance of keeping physical stores intact.

As major retail chains continue to close stores nationwide, Kohl's Chairman, President and CEO Kevin Mansell told CNBC that his company's success actually stems from its physical locations.

"Physical presence is important in people's mindset as they think about where to shop," Mansell told "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer on Tuesday. "Regardless of whether they shop in the store or online, if you have a physical presence, you're top of mind. So having a physical presence is critical."

Speaking from ICR's annual investment conference, Mansell doubled down on the bull case for brick-and-mortar, emphasizing the need for retailers to serve "a more omni-channel consumer."

"We're not in malls," the CEO said. "Ninety-five percent of our stores are off-mall, and they're mostly single-level, free-standing, easy to get in, easy to get out."

Mansell said the strategy ties back to Kohl's three original "pillars:" brands, value and convenience.

New initiatives related to improving the customer experience and promoting personalization — both part of Kohl's "Greatness Agenda" — will update the strategy as the consumer evolves, he said.

While the CEO wouldn't comment on whether Kohl's unique partnership with Amazon will eventually result in the e-commerce giant acquiring Kohl's, he did speak to its benefits.

"We're focused on any ideas, however far-out they may seem to somebody outside our business, that would essentially drive more people into our stores," Mansell said. "Amazon's a great company [with] amazing customer engagement."

With consumer sentiment on the rise, engaging customers has become a central focus for Kohl's. Amazon's support, however contradictory, furthers that mission, the CEO said.

"Values are really important to them, but the customer experience is what's critical," Mansell told Cramer. "Those are shared values with Kohl's, and so our thinking in the Amazon pilot is, really, how do we translate their success into more traffic coming into Kohl's stores?"

An Amazon spokesperson declined CNBC's request for comment.

Watch Kevin Mansell's full interview here:

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