Bob Phibbs

President/CEO, The Retail Doctor

Since 1994 companies worldwide have turned to Bob Phibbs, the Retail Doctor® for the passion and expertise necessary to grow their sales. A professional speaker and author, he has frequently been called on to provide commentary on Marketing and Branding for MSNBC.

  • Worked with some of the largest retail brands in the world including Brother, Hunter Douglas, LEGO, OMEGA, Vera Bradley, Viking, and Yamaha.
  • Retail consultant with a proven track record of increasing sales 20-50% within months.
  • COO with a broad range of responsibilities creating a culture of exceptional experiences.
  • CMO of second-fastest growing company in Los Angeles two years running.
  • Built two successful businesses from scratch.
  • Author of “You Can Compete: Double Sales Without Discounting”
  • Author of “The Retail Doctor’s Guide To Growing Your Business”
  • Author of “Groupon: You Can’t Afford It – Why Deep Discounts Are Bad for Business”
  • Contributor AMEX Open Forum

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  • Posted on: 05/23/2017

    Will J.C. Penney find success with its new B2B venture?

    It's a home goods chain not a commercial enterprise. What exactly does the value chain look like for a hotelier to buy from J.C. Penney? Hoteliers use commercial grade linens, not whatever is cheapest to manufacture. Count me on the concerned side as this is another distraction from the work they need to do by closing stores and training employees. If Walmart can do it, why not J.C. Penney?
  • Posted on: 05/22/2017

    How should self-checkout be incentivized?

    Exactly Cathy. Who wants to go grocery shopping and then be told what to do? It's like, whoa, am I on the schedule today? Add the nagging voice after every scan and I don't know who thinks this is humane or preferable for anything more than a pack of gum or a Coke.
  • Posted on: 05/22/2017

    How should self-checkout be incentivized?

    This topic comes back from the dead like Sears. As much as people try to make self-checkout personal, it isn't. It only takes one or two glitches and having to wait for some harried cashier to "fix" it to make customers feel stupid they picked the "quicker self-serve" option. No one ever uses the Lowe's self checkout near me for that reason. Once burned, customers are never going back. For a single item in a store where most of the items are similar it's fine, but most retailers aren't boutiques with only 100 SKUs.
  • Posted on: 05/17/2017

    How many training hours are appropriate for store-level workers?

    As an owner of a retail sales training company, this is a bit misleading. Online retail sales training programs can allow for less time but more strategy. Where once you had to get into a classroom for hour after hour to get something to stick, retailers can now get bite-sized training of three to five minutes that only require associates to be off the floor for 10 minutes a week.The actual content only has to be about an hour or so. There's nothing magical about training. It's not like the learner will find out the moon is really made of macaroni (Wow! that's amazing!) It all makes sense. But understanding and doing are two very different things. You don't train them for them to get it right once, you train them so that they can't do it wrong.
  • Posted on: 05/16/2017

    Are digital CX initiatives being lost on Baby Boomers?

    Ken, let me clarify -- we know what Boomers complain about. IBM just released a survey that said 88 percent aren't greeted. You'd think, wouldn't you, that this would be the lowest-hanging fruit a retailer could fix. Easy, right? But no. The second most reported pet peeve is shoppers not finding someone to wait on them and the third is the feeling that the retailer doesn't value their business (which is more complex). There are no easy answers but there are some fairly easy things one could fix if anyone cared to look at what shoppers are really saying.
  • Posted on: 05/16/2017

    Are digital CX initiatives being lost on Baby Boomers?

    As I wrote in Millennials, He Wrote: How Retailers Are Paying The Price For Ignoring Baby Boomer Customers, there are differences. The opportunity is to not disregard the generation most able to pay the bills and to find what works for them. Too much of marketing and customer experience is focused around solutions looking for problems when Boomers can articulate what bugs them quite clearly -- and few retailers work to fix these things, with solutions as easy as a simple greeting or showing they value a customer's business.
  • Posted on: 05/12/2017

    Will Amazon dominate the online furniture market?

    Wayfair, according to the Motley Fool, is chronically unprofitable. Gross margins are low, typically around 24 percent, far below its peers. Williams-Sonoma enjoys gross margins in the high 30s. And privately held IKEA generated a gross margin of 42.9 percent last year.It’s a category I don’t know how is supposed to deal with returns which historically are high for online. Couple that with abusers who could simply buy it all and return within a few weeks and I don’t share the “gee-wow” of this announcement. But you probably knew that.
  • Posted on: 05/10/2017

    Has Fabletics bridged the digital/physical divide with its omnicart tech?

    So let me get this straight -- an employee is stationed at the fitting room scanning every piece going in as well as taking off whatever the shopper doesn't want. So labor doubles or triples. Maybe this works at a known brand with low traffic but I don't see how it scales. And without conversion numbers -- results are as elusive as both the Hointer and Nordstrom projects.Couple that with the "let's go to the store, try on a bunch of stuff for our Instagram feed and leave without buying anything" factor and I don't see this as meaningful.
  • Posted on: 05/04/2017

    Should retailers and restaurants post calorie info no matter what the FDA decides?

    I think, to Art's point, this is more a generational requirement than anything. When you're 20 a Carl's 5,000 calorie burger is fine -- remember their attempt at low-cal? It bombed spectacularly so they went back to extra bacon, etc. As a Boomer, I find that when the calorie count is presented and I'm surprised it isn't as much as I feared -- I buy it. That's about 50 percent of the time so those who don't put calories could just as easy be losing sales.
  • Posted on: 05/04/2017

    How can companies avoid the seven deadly sins of retail laggards?

    "Sin" is a bit much but I would say I don't envy anyone leading a retail brand these days. The way forward simply isn't clear.I agree with Paula and say many have abandoned being brilliant on the basics to chase a lot of "innovation" which chokes off the money to pay for the innovation. That and "first-to-market" -- like Amazon -- is always tough to beat.
  • Posted on: 05/02/2017

    Will giving associates mobile devices enhance the shopping experience?

    Giving associates an iPad to ring people up is hardly a way-forward strategy. What do they do with it besides look up inventory which may or may not be right? Most POS systems do as much.What do they do while someone runs to the back to get the stock? Yes there are aspects that can help but many will add a barrier between customer and purchase as much as "please hold while I check that" did when retailers were looking for items a few years ago.If you're going to give them shiny objects, don't stop at giving them sales training or you've just got more warehouse workers. And the more checking they do on a laptop, the more their pitiful customer service skills will atrophy -- mark my words.
  • Posted on: 05/02/2017

    Will consumers finally pay for service?

    A timely reminder of a post I did, Is It Time To Start Charging Customers For Browsing?.You can't afford high-touch service at bargain prices. Other professions don't get service and hope for a return -- think contractors or CPAs. I think the only way it would work is if the employees were paid substantially more, like a percentage of store increases over last year. But that too has pitfalls. And how would online add to the compensation model?Until humans are valued over gadgets and discounts, I see few willing to step up to the plate from their "let's just get through this month and offer another sale" mentality.
  • Posted on: 04/28/2017

    Will Amazon’s Echo Look be a clothes selling machine?

    I can't imagine a man or woman over 30 using such a thing. There's a creep factor of it looking and analyzing you. Let's face it, most of us don't look like those in the video who would be sharing or storing. But it's a brilliant use of technology to wed more users to the artificial teat that is Amazon.
  • Posted on: 04/27/2017

    What can TripAdvisor bring to retail?

    One of my very first clients from nearly 30 years ago is still #1 in all of Orange County, CA on TripAdvisor. As I shared in this post What Retailers Can Learn From A Hotel Makeover [Case Study], that was out of more than 300 hotels including luxury properties. Yet the hotel had just 26 rooms, no pool, no concierge, no restaurant -- the people still make the difference.To this day customers love to share their experiences -- it has become "their" hotel. And it is free advertising when you do a great job.AAA used to be the authority due to their inspectors -- not now, we trust TripAdvisor due to the sheer volume of reviews. I could easily see TripAdvisor expanding into retail as Yelp is mostly a restaurant review site. The opportunity is in selecting places you don't already know. Once in the store I don't think the brand translates to toasters or dresses.
  • Posted on: 04/26/2017

    Can parking lots save the mall?

    When I was just starting out and the fax machine was cutting-edge, I worked in malls. Gradually they started adding "craft festivals" and all kinds of temporary kiosks into the hallways. This made it particularly tough to navigate on busy weekends and meant more people looked to get around things than looked at retailers. Eventually, they realized these were distractions and they were discontinued.I would say parking lot events are the same. You don't get people to malls in spite of the retailers - it has to be synergistic.

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