Retail Today with Bob Phibbs – The Retail Doctor Pt. 2

LS International

Nowadays, the retail industry has a lot of challenges coming from a fast-paced society which is constantly evolving. Creating exceptional experiences is a key component that companies should have in order to be competitive and remain relevant. To discuss this, we’ve invited Bob Phibbs.

Bob Phibbs, CEO of the Retail Doctor, is an internationally recognized business strategist, customer service expert, sales coach, marketing mentor, author of three books, and motivational business speaker. He has appeared on ABC, Fox, MSNBC, PBS and he and his work have been featured in articles in the Entrepreneur, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

This is part 1 of a two-part episode with Bob, please look out for part two where we will address the topic of recycling and waste management. We will also discuss the role of retailers in this process and what can be done by everyone to create a more sustainable world.


Topics covered

-Role of retailers in the recycling process and how to do it successfully

-Responsibility of retailers for food waste

Lauren: Hi, I’m Laruen Stiebing and welcome to part 2 of this career success podcast with Bob Phibbs. He is an internationally recognized business strategist, customer service expert, sales coach, marketing mentor, author of 3 books and a motivational business speaker. He has been named one of the top retail influencers of 2018 and a top voice on LinkedIn. He has appeared on ABC, Fox, ENSBC and he and his work have been featured in articles in the New York Times and the Wallstreet journal. We will be discussing the role which retailers have in food waste management and the recycling process.

I’d like to shift a bit into another hot topic which is around recycling and sustainability and especially from the retailers’ side. I would like to understand from your opinion what role do you think retailers have in the recycling process?


Bob: Well, let’s face it, I mean fast fashion is like one of the worst polluters of the environment around. The dyes and all of the things that go into it. Let’s also be honest, you know I kind of scratch my head with people I talk about recycling and how important it is and they get on this bandwagon and I say “what are you doing with all these Amazon boxes that you’re ordering from?”. It’s like “oh, well that’s just my conveniences”. It’s like, well that’s worse because you have got boxes twice as much as you need because you could have just gone store and get it. “Well it’s just about my convenience”, so I think people are willing to say something and when it really comes to brass tacks they have to change behavior, I don’t think they show it. But I’ve certainly seen, you know let’s face it, if you’re a retailer and you are not following a progressive social action, you’re probably going to be left behind because of the smart ones, the targets, the Wallmart’s… they all understand that sustainability is really important to iGens and to millennials. They certainly want to keep the appearance that they are doing something to help and I certainly applaud all of that you know. I attended my nephew’s graduations – PHD at UCLA in Erwin – and the valedictorian said “in your generation it was acceptable to have pollution. In my generation we’d just say they didn’t finish the equation yet”. And I thought that was so brilliant because there is a new group of young people out there that realize there is a lot of ways, lot of ways we could do it. I think you want to support it but again that’s not going to make you the most successful retailer.


It’s a nice to have, I think it’s great but when you start coming, you know I went into a place and someone was like “this is all made of recycled Bamboo”, it’s like I don’t give a damn if it doesn’t look good, if it doesn’t feel good, if I’m not even interested, I’m certainly not going to buy something because somebody tells me it came from you know recycled something. What I care about is, does it fit well, does it… oh well yes, it is sustainable, oh yes it is from renewable resources or oh yes you can plant it and it can become a tree. Whatever that’s going to be, that’s wonderful but don’t mistake that as the unique reason why somebody needs it and that’s what brings me back again to having a branded customer service experience because you understand your goal is to convert the casual looker to become a buyer and then you can make him feel better about their purchase certainly but it’s not the main thing that most people will go in for.


Lauren: Do you think it would drive market share if it was done very well? Do you think people would end up choosing one retailer over their competitors because of it?


Bob: Well that’s paragony right. I mean paragony is like don’t buy what you don’t need. The whole thing is recycling and they have a huge mission about it. It’s organic, it’s what it has always been. It’s not some new shirt that they put on, this is who they are so, you know, I think it’s great but again most of those brands have carved that niche out. So, the danger of just becoming a me too I think is pretty great.


First to market like when in the states when RAI said to take the day off after thanksgiving, everybody was like “wow that’s game changing, that’s amazing”. Then other people were like “we are taking the day off too”. Yeah, but we all remember RAI because they were the first ones or Starbucks, you know. There were other specially coffee chains that were out there Peet’s and some other ones, but we remember Starbucks, they were first to market to actually do what some of these little other guys had so I would say it’s certainly a strong brand, it’s certainly everywhere we see, you’re not going to lose sales because you’re doing that. I mean imagine the other side, we are trashing the environment and we are happy about it. I mean no one’s going do that, right?

It’s great that you can say it, but I say it’s not your top 3 reasons why someone is going to buy something, I don’t think so.


Lauren: And what about in terms of food waste, because that’s something that, I mean, it’s inevitable. Grocery stores have food waste. How responsible do you think they are in the process?


Bob: Well, you know it’s funny you say that because when I was at national, I was getting ready for our call here today and when I was at the innovation lab, there’s a company called Flashfood, that’s all one word, and what they do is that they’re a mobile market place. So they’re going to allow your grocers to sell surplus items at a discounted price. That’s going to cut down on food waste. So, what it is, is you have, you know, expiration dates are going off, so you got milk, you might have yogurt, you might have meat, you might have different vegetables because it’s all continuous coming in there. You put it in a ten pound crate, they have a refrigerator at the front service desk and I think it’s like for five dollars, you can come in there – I’ve you got a mobile app – you can come in there and buy whatever is in there for five dollars, and you know it they could take it home.

So, a whole group of people that could never have afforded that food are able to have access to it. I think they said they’ve already kept something like five million pounds of fresh food and out of the dumpsters. And so Flashfood I think is really the smart way to go. You know in France they’ve started with the ugly fruit that they were going to sell the stuff that was a little messed up but I think this whole idea of how do we add another market and make things more affordable, I think is really smart. When I said I was there at Flashfood, I was surprised at what a brilliant idea it was that we haven’t been doing this for thirty years, you know, it’s like, it has no value to you and the chance that someone’s going happen to go through the aisle and try to find it and pick it up is very rare. You put it on a metro rack in the back of this discounted. Whereas you put at the front you market it; now, you’ve got a whole new customer coming in and it’s not going to cannibalize your sales and you know if you’re going to make a dinner that night or you’re going to a group, you know maybe have boy scouts or I don’t know whatever it would be, why not use it and then, ultimately, you can teach them the same thing of sustainability and limit waste. I mean all the way around I think it works.


Lauren: Yes, so is this Flashfood partnering with the retailer or where do they get the space?


Bob: Yes. They do partner with the retailer.


Lauren: Okay, they have space in the front of the store, then.


Bob: Yeah, yeah. They have the refrigerator today. On my YouTube channel for the “Retail Doctor”  I have a video interview with their CMO there that you can find.

The ability to hear them. Make the pitch much better than I can today.


Lauren: Very cool. Well, I will definitely go and check that out. Well, Bob, thank you so much for joining us today for your insights. I’m sure our listeners will find your opinion is very interesting. Most of our listeners are from the consumer good side and always interested in and what’s going on, on the retail side. So, thank you so much.


Bob: Absolutely. Thanks for joining me and I encourage if you’re looking to create an exceptional experience, check out That’s my online retail sales training program and, if you’d like to have me come and speak to your group or conference we’d appreciate that by visiting, D. O. C. dot com.


Lauren: Thank you


Bob: Thanks, Lauren.