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: 09/29/2016

    Will opening hotels help West Elm sell more furniture?

    I would offer that the number of potential customers looking to purchase furniture while vacationing or attending a conference is slim. Everyone is trying everything but talking about upgrading their brand experience in their own stores. I was in Vegas last weekend and visited Lindbergh clothing which had a cafe. Two employees in a two-story location -- and 50 percent off everything. The cafe was busy but the merchandise sat. Until retailers up their game in their own locations, look for further brand extensions as distractions.
  • Posted on: 09/22/2016

    Coming soon – a members-only store for the ultra rich

    This isn't the '50s. I don't see how a department store for the ultra rich is anything but a terrorist target. While I am not one of the people, a recent luxury survey reported many lived in Ohio, Wisconsin and other rural areas. I would venture to say if they wanted to stay over they'd rather be at a Ritz-Carlton than a department store.
  • Posted on: 09/21/2016

    Is a trendless fashion industry killing Gap’s business?

    From years of discounting, Gap has shown their value proposition as nil. On the other hand retailers like Ulta have refashioned their brand away from discounts successfully. Until as a company they believe they have merchandise worth the price stated, not marked down, consumers will sit on the sidelines. The question is, how long can a brand survive like this?
  • Posted on: 09/19/2016

    Is digital defining the shopping experience?

    This study makes a fairly big assumption that online is winning because it's a simpler path to purchasing. That's true but the customer that has decided to buy is probably only 10 percent of the game. 60 percent is in them becoming aware that they have a need or having their interest piqued, 30 percent is considering their options. People go to stores many times for the awareness stage. I think well-merchandised stores and well-trained employees still can provide a much better experience than an algorithm. And let's be honest -- all retail is transactional.
  • Posted on: 09/08/2016

    Can crowdsourced price data change shopping habits?

    I'm a bit shocked that this is a thing. Everything I am reading and writing about customer convenience points towards one thing -- one stop. The idea that people are going to find certain things lower-priced and just buy them in one store and drive to another to buy others, when they're all time pressed, just flies in the face of reason. Unless these people don't have jobs or other responsibilities.
  • Posted on: 09/01/2016

    Has American Girl made a wise move into Toys ‘R’ Us?

    First it was Sears taking their few recognizable brands into other retailers. Yesterday we heard of J.Crew putting their merchandise in Nordstrom.. And now American Girl putting theirs in Toys "R" Us. I get it for stockholder needs.But the blurring of lines does not help you compete, if anything it shows just how bad you are. That 19 percent drop in American Girl merchandise isn't gonna be replaced by putting dolls that don't sell into more locations. Perhaps they've already strayed too far from the exclusivity and luxury experience that made them so successful. Coming out with half price editions doesn't seem a novel or bold move.
  • Posted on: 09/01/2016

    Schnucks bans solicitors from outside its stores

    Good riddance. Just like those perfume sample sprayers acosting you when you're trying to go to the escalators at a department store, people trying to make you feel bad to support their cause isn't welcome by most people. There are plenty of places people can donate that didn't exist 180 years ago other than a grocery store.A grocery store is not the only place to do this; there's this thing called the internet. To say the ban happened as a response to unions passing things out is a bit of a reach.
  • Posted on: 08/24/2016

    Has Sears discovered how to profit from its softer side?

    The first rule of retail: know your customer. This idea sounds more like Macy's -- without the coupon -- than Sears. It's hardly a game-changer for an irrelevant brand. And what is a "member" in an aging department store chain?
  • Posted on: 08/22/2016

    Will drop shipments become a major online fulfillment tool?

    Make no mistake, the ones most interested in drop shipping are the brands themselves. Look no further than Nike and several appliance manufacturers who now directly compete for the retailer's own market. Partnering up with local contractors provides a seamless shopping experience -- one that doesn't require a visit to a brick-and-mortar store. Perhaps it is inevitable, but those brands will use that customer data to learn more about how to sell direct -- just like Amazon is doing to the brands on their site.
  • Posted on: 08/19/2016

    What can retailers do to find and hire amazing people?

    Doug had some great tips here. I would disagree with the last, "Have them work the floor as part of the interview." You can find someone who really likes to talk to people, but that's not what the job is. I would say hire someone, train them to your standards and give them 30 days to prove it. Especially with all the tips on the web these days of how to hack a job interview I think it would be easier to make a great impression being thrown in the pool to make a splash without having any real substance to go the distance.
  • Posted on: 08/17/2016

    Will other brands follow Birkenstock in cutting off Amazon?

    I'm sure I'll be in the minority on this but it is about time brands took back their distribution. We saw it last week with Coach and Michael Kors; luxury retailers like Omega have cut out retailers who discount. It doesn't have to be an open market to all. Smaller retailers bemoan how brands they built have been dumped on sites like Amazon for much less than they can even buy them. I don't believe it is trying to put the genie back in the bottle -- most things shouldn't be mass market if they want to stay in business.
  • Posted on: 08/16/2016

    Where would J.C. Penney be without Sears?

    The damage to the JCP brand was catastrophic — from the operations people who left, the killing of the spirit of the brand culture, not just the BILLIONS of sales lost. And all because one investor was able to strong arm a CEO out of a job and put someone else in who apparently didn’t even like the brand to start with — then reverse it 17 months later. No wonder middle America is distrustful of Wall Street. I said it last originally and stick by it: "Worst. Makeover. Ever."
  • Posted on: 08/16/2016

    Where would J.C. Penney be without Sears?

    Yes. Now imagine where J.C. Penney would be without Ron Johnson. Let's be honest, a 2 percent increase after losing one-third of your business shows a long way to go. Macy's closings will be a boon as will Sears/Kmart's eventual demise. Being last man standing in this game, though, doesn't mean you're a success -- you still have to earn it.
  • Posted on: 08/15/2016

    Does Nordstrom’s growth depend on Nordstrom Rack?

    Just because a book was written 20+ years ago about how wonderful you are doesn't mean you are in 2016. Until someone owns the customer experience in their legacy stores, Nordstrom will still struggle. More discounts aren't the answer, as I wrote in Don’t Be The Luxury Retailer That Had To Close Due To Discounting.
  • Posted on: 08/12/2016

    Are store closings a positive sign for Macy’s?

    I saw a tweet about this yesterday, "Rearranging the deck chairs" implying what someone does on a doomed ocean liner. I would suggest that unless and until someone owns the customer experience in a new way, these store closings are the tip of the iceberg. Their stale marketing ads filled with disclaimers and coupons-on-steroids daily deals have stopped working and partners they lean on to be relevant like Coach and Michael Kors are obviously not happy with them.

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