It’s a new decade! Al and Frank reflect on retail’s evolution in a conversation with fuel and c-store expert, Sam Herro. From defunct department stores to the Tesla Cybertruck, we cover a lot of ground.

About Sam Herro

For the past decade, Sam Herro has sought innovative ways to change the how, what, and where of fueling. In his most recent role as the Director of Fuel for Kum & Go, he did just that—leading the development of one of the nation’s largest retail portfolios of biofuel blends that included E15, E85, and biodiesel. Sam also served as a member of an innovation team dedicated to proposing new and forward-thinking ways for Kum & Go to maintain its position as one of the leading retailers in the United States.

As a frequent speaker at industry events, Sam has discussed digital innovation, industry forecasts, and more at conferences such as Outlook Leadership.

Sam is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and resides with his family in Des Moines, IA. He’s an avid fly fisherman, cyclist, and rock climber.

Click here to connect with Sam on LinkedIn.



  • [4:40] – Defunct department stores, Toys R Us, “jobs to be done,” and more
  • [11:13] – Buy online, pick up in-store—do you like it?
  • [12:40] – Customer service. Have you ever needed help “finding something?” Why Al Hebert is Ron Swanson
  • [17:25] – Meaningful convenience and exceptional experience
  • [20:30] – Trader Joe’s, and do you have products that people will seek out?
  • [23:05] – Sea of sameness, Dollar General’s new DGX stores, and consumer choice
  • [26:45] – Small retailers are innovating, but does that scale? What can you do?
  • [29:10] – Do retailers underestimate the complexity of foodservice? Do they have the right culture?
  • [32:20] – Employee quality, retailers who do it right, and why it matters
  • [36:40] – Does corporate understand what the experience is like for front-line employees…and customers?
  • [40:10] – Do your customers actually see value in your loyalty programs?
  • [44:55] – Why technology won’t fix a bad retailer
  • [48:35] – There are places in the U.S. where everything at a c-store can be delivered—including fuel. How do you keep customers coming to a physical store?
  • [56:45] – Foodservice and personalization
  • [58:25] – Do today’s customers actually want to talk to employees? Why ‘speed with heart’ matters
  • [1:01:45] – Asking Sam about working on an innovation team. How do you build one?
  • [1:06:50] – Urban, non-fuel convenience stores
  • [1:09:15] – Why Des Moines is one of the most competitive c-store markets
  • [1:10:50] – What’s happening in fuel?
  • [1:18:45] – Where is the opportunity for innovation at the forecourt?
  • [1:20:40] – Checkout-free retail
  • [1:23:30] – C-stores and groceries
  • [1:26:15] – What do you think about the Tesla Cybertruck?
  • [1:33:00] – Autonomous vehicles, disruption, and the relevance of physical retail
  • [1:36:30] – Upcoming retail casualties and challenges
  • [1:45:12] – What is Sam excited about for 2020 and beyond?
  • [1:54:10] – Sam’s advice, recommended books, and more

Sam’s Recommended Books, Podcasts, and Tools

Mentioned In This Episode

Connect with Sam Herro