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: 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.
  • Posted on: 08/10/2016

    Will selling in fewer stores help Coach sell more handbags?

    While the answer is yes, the bigger problem is younger shoppers not willing to buy at full price. I expect Coach and others to beef up their own outlet channels to sell to the Millennial cost-conscious consumer. The discounts will continue, just more tightly controlled.
  • Posted on: 08/01/2016

    Is online a bigger threat to independent merchants than big boxes?

    You can't get much sales life out of educating customers that they are wrong and shaming them into buying local. The real reason so many stores — big and small — are susceptible to online is simply that their customer experience is often rotten. To compete in 2016, you better value the fact that I had to leave my house in traffic, find a parking place and put my smartphone down while shopping in your store. Those who do are creating an exceptional experience and thriving; those who don't will blame everyone but themselves.
  • Posted on: 07/28/2016

    Has Nordstrom lost its customer experience edge?

    Agreed about merchandise selection. Most guys who can afford their shirts aren't looking for the "trim" or "trimmest" fit.
  • Posted on: 07/28/2016

    How should commissions work in the era of omnichannel retailing?

    Many will no doubt posit to do away with commissions. I think that's a mistake. The brightest and best have chosen to make their living selling a brand's wares and deserve to have their talent to build rapport, compare and contrast and make the sale rewarded. Leveling the pay field usually leaves the weaker players on the floor longer and dis-incents the best. Cathy's right, everyone is feeling their way. Just don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.
  • Posted on: 07/28/2016

    Has Nordstrom lost its customer experience edge?

    Yes. After I wrote this blog Hey Retailers! Nordstrom’s Customer Service Problems Are Yours Too, I had a conversation with an executive there who agreed they needed to own the customer experience. It is subpar in every location.Just because someone wrote a book about them generations ago doesn't mean they can rest on their laurels. Yet that's what's happened. The long solution is to fix a culture where "Can I help you" has replaced creating relationships.
  • Posted on: 07/25/2016

    White lies, sales fibs and the customer experience

    While there are many things retail employees should never do, as I noted in my post Customer Service: 50 Things Retail Employees Should Never Do, I'm not sure this counts. Who is the arbiter of white lies -- between husband and wife, boyfriend and boyfriend, child to parent? Things happen. Customers just want information. Trying to hold them or your employees up as some mythical George Washington seems like a distraction when most retailers can't even train how to greet a customer.
  • Posted on: 07/25/2016

    7-Eleven makes history with consumer drone delivery

    **cough, cough** publicity stunt ... Right up there with the IoT tea kettle you can turn on from your smartphone. The rush to replace mom with things like this and many IoT devices may get clicks but there's no way this is profitable or scaleable or will be soon.

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