Bob Amster

Principal, Retail Technology Group

Mr. Amster has served the retail and distribution industries as both a Consultant and Systems Manager since 1971. He currently heads The Retail Technology Group, an independent consulting firm.

Bob was a Senior Manager with the Northeast Retail Consulting Group of Ernst & Young. Prior to joining Ernst & Young, Mr. Amster held Systems Management positions for large retailers such as Kmart Apparel, Waldenbooks, and Caldor. In addition, he has consulted to retail, distribution, and software companies since 1985.

Bob’s hands-on experience encompasses strategic planning; operational reviews; and systems design and implementation. He specializes in needs assessments; software analyses, selection and implementation; operational procedures and process improvement; and systems integration. His project experience includes numerous engagements in the evaluation, selection and implementation of merchandising, financial, warehouse and store systems packages.

Additionally, Bob has served as interim head of IT for Barneys New York and Shane Company, and as interim head of the Store Systems Group for Savers, Inc.

Bob also has provided due diligence assistance to a number of private equity firms and has served the advisory board of retailers and of a number of e-commerce merchants, to whom he provided retail industry perspective.

  • Posted on: 12/06/2019

    To localize stores or not, that is the question for retailers

    Chain stores are an extension of the mom and pop store done well. Mom and pops always customize their assortments to the local community. So should chains. Today's available technology makes it easier (not easy) to customize assortments to local needs and climates. The better chain retailers hone the local merchandising skills, the better each store will perform.
  • Posted on: 12/06/2019

    Will Rent the Runway‘s hotel concierge deal change how people travel?

    And speaking of "taking off," imagine now you are sitting in an airplane with free Wi-Fi. You had forgotten to bring with you the something-or-other you needed for this trip. You open up your "travel portal" app. You enter your destination. You select the "clothing" category. You go to the RTR site (they would participate). You order what you need. You enter the final destination hotel and bingo! You're saved at the last minute.
  • Posted on: 12/06/2019

    Will Rent the Runway‘s hotel concierge deal change how people travel?

    Retailers are getting more creative. Many things will change the way we travel and all of them are possible because of already-existing technology that has to be put to another use (we call these use cases).
  • Posted on: 12/05/2019

    Do Black Friday mobile app downloads portend holiday season winners?

    The only thing that retailers have to "win" is a profitable share of the consumers' disposable income. If a retailer makes enough sales (less returns) to be profitable, they have been successful but they don't have to "win."
  • Posted on: 12/04/2019

    The holiday season promises many unhappy returns for retailers

    The solution to the problem retailers face with the R word is at the root. The root cause of high, costly returns is the insanely liberal policy surrounding the process: Free shipping outbound, free shipping inbound, and no re-stocking fess. Retailers have burrowed themselves into this rabbit hole and eventually will have to wean consumers off a practice that is clearly unfair to retailers. There is a cost associated with every touch point and today, the retailers pays it all and the consumer laughs all the way to the wardrobe. I know of no technology that will cure this problem.
  • Posted on: 11/27/2019

    Will 2020 be the year retailers digitally transform their supply chain ops?

    First and foremost, shortening the manufacture-to-market cycle. Improving the accuracy of on-hand, available-for-sale inventory will continue to be the quest of most retailers. After-purchase processes will have the biggest effect on customer relations.
  • Posted on: 11/26/2019

    Will IoT reinvent the supply chain?

    The industry writers and journalists must be careful to insure that, when we talk about IoT, we are all talking about the same thing and that is Internet Protocol (IP) addressable devices (the "Things" in IoT) that can "speak" to the other devices via the Internet (the "Internet" in IoT). With a standard definition as a given, we can say that the biggest winner from the use of IoT is inventory accuracy. This is especially true in physical stores. That in turn can impact upstream supply chain activities to make those activities more efficient as a result.
  • Posted on: 11/18/2019

    What will happen now that Five Below has gone above $5?

    It is easier to get away with selling products for more than the $5 in a store section marked as such, keeping the merchandise separate until Five Below customers get used to the idea that some items cost more than $5. Online, if played correctly, the over $5 items can be promoted specially or separately on the same website and the retailer can keep the name Five Below without upsetting the customer base.
  • Posted on: 11/14/2019

    Is ‘OK Boomer’ a merchandising opportunity?

    I prefer the t-shirt that reads "In my defense, I was left unsupervised".
  • Posted on: 11/14/2019

    Shoptalk makes a statement with a conference featuring only women speakers

    It's been a long time coming. Many women in this industry were pioneers in certain specialties (Coco Chanel and Frieda Loehmann to name just two) and yet most of the top jobs went to men for decades. Having said that, it looks a little hokey to suddenly only have women speakers at this event. Is it possible to overdo a good thing? Yes, like eating too much chocolate.
  • Posted on: 11/12/2019

    What’s in store for retail in 2020?

    Blurred lines may well have the biggest impact on retailing, and it won't be a positive one for retailers. Manufacturers and wholesale distributors competing with the very channel that was created to make it easier for them to sell their products is going to have a negative impact on retailers, but it will be a re-distribution of sales. It will not change the size of the pie.
  • Posted on: 11/11/2019

    Did social media spook Party City’s Halloween sales?

    There are numerous unintended consequences of the birth, life and, hopefully, eventual death of social media. Many of those consequences e.g. this article, bullying, suicides, and disinformation, are negative. Where as the use of the internet to get immediate, round-the-clock, medical responses for treatment from a team of doctors in another time zone is a plus for humanity, social media does not - in this humble person's opinion - measure up. This is one added disease that humanity doesn't need.
  • Posted on: 11/07/2019

    Why do digital transformations often fail?

    Startups have the luxury of not bringing any baggage to market. In today's business world, they start at exactly where the technology is at the startup point. By contrast, mature businesses are used to business one way and it is difficult in many cases, to change the modus operandi. Embracing all the new digital approaches to procuring product, advertising, marketing, running store operations and caring for customers can be a culture shock, can be difficult practically, and there may not be the funding to accomplish it all. furthermore, trying to make many changes in the transformation at one time may be lethal.
  • Posted on: 11/06/2019

    Food halls drive mall traffic, not clothing sales

    Yes. What you said! We like to get ahead of ourselves sometimes so we can have something about which to talk, or even deal a premature death knell. It is too soon. In the meantime, if malls can increase (or recover some of the lost) traffic, some of those foodies will become shoppers. Another "wait and see."
  • Posted on: 11/06/2019

    Should the recent Instacart strike concern retailers?

    I should think that retailers would be concerned! Anyone and any business relying on a third party for a portion of their business wants the assurance that they are dealing with a stable entity that takes good care of its employees and pays attention to the details. Retailers need to feel that every service which they outsource is being performed by a reliable company in which disruptions of any kind don't happen.

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