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: 01/22/2021

    NRF 2021: Saks doubles down on its ‘luxury disrupted’ strategy

    Saks is in a position to regain its luster in luxury. Fewer, select stores, personalized service, elegant fashion. Put those together and they will come.
  • Posted on: 01/22/2021

    NRF 2021: Will Lululemon ever get tired of winning?

    Lululemon is in a special retail space. Its customer is committed to fitness, looking the part, and paying the price. Working out from home was a great boon to the brand but I propose that most of its online clientele will remain committed to fitness and loyal to Lululemon. And then Lululemon will have all those aspirational new customers...
  • Posted on: 01/21/2021

    Do boutique hotels and housing make sense for RH?

    Unlike some of my colleagues on this panel, I am very skeptical that the concept will work financially. Yes, it is a good idea to be able to give one's potential customers a hands-on feel for the products that RH sells. But hotels, boutique or not, are a whole other business than showrooms or pure brick-and-mortar retail. Best of luck and prove me wrong.
  • Posted on: 01/20/2021

    Is My Pillow being ‘cancelled’ or is its CEO trashing the business all on his own?

    You covered the pro, the con, and the undecided. Enough said.
  • Posted on: 01/20/2021

    NRF 2021: Are retailers stronger having made it this far into the pandemic?

    The pandemic has had a huge impact on retail businesses but not the same impact on all businesses. Some retailers lost a lot of business and went bankrupt or liquidated. They did not have enough cash reserves to keep their businesses viable. Other retailers had the agility and the reserves to adapt to the abnormality of the situation and are that much stronger now for it. They will lead for a long time. Other retailers have not grabbed this bull by the horns and are teetering on the edge of the precipice. There are a number of retailers in each group; some much stronger because of what the pandemic has forced them to do, some that are already gone, and some that will struggle along until they figure it out or get an influx of cash.
  • Posted on: 01/19/2021

    NRF 2021: How are Lowe’s and Wayfair defining operational excellence?

    The answer is: a multiplicity of factors have to work in parallel in order to result in operational excellence. One of the biggest impediments until a few years ago, has been how retail managers interact with their employees. As a rule, a happy employee is a public relations executive for the company and making sure that a retail company's employees have good reason to be happy in their work environment is a critical responsibility of management.
  • Posted on: 01/19/2021

    NRF 2021: Social responsibility critical for keeping retail customers engaged

    As values and priorities change - and they are changing - it has become more important for retailers to demonstrate that they are in tune with their customer base. The environment, gender equality, and racial equality are factors in this trend. Powerful and widespread communications tools put almost all businesses under a new, inescapable microscope through which their customers are looking.
  • Posted on: 01/18/2021

    Does a Staples/Office Depot merger now make more sense?

    I worry about the antitrust aspect of this merger. Aside from that, these two companies are not very successful businesses vying for a larger share of a good market. Does the sum of two fraught businesses add up to a more healthy single company? Not necessarily.
  • Posted on: 01/15/2021

    NRF 2021: Retailers make an appointment with the future

    Neil, you stole my thunder! My thoughts precisely.
  • Posted on: 01/14/2021

    7-Elevens could be destined to undergo a konbinification

    I lean towards converting some locations to the konbini-style store and calling it something else - like 7+ - so the company can keep the 7-Eleven brand where it wants continue to operate as it does now, and introduce the higher-end brand where the traffic and demographics merit the upgrade. Raise the flag and see who salutes it. If it does not work, close it or revert.
  • Posted on: 01/14/2021

    Which emerging tech will transform marketing this year?

    Artificial intelligence by a nose. One can overanalyze things to the point of missing out on the obvious so, analytics is my second choice at best. Refining responses to the consumers, as made possible by AI, will win the day.
  • Posted on: 01/13/2021

    Walmart to deliver groceries to temp-controlled smart boxes at customers’ homes

    Therein lies the key to success. Walmart can lock-in customers and make them a captive audience in the short term. But, eventually, other retailers will want to offer the same service and hardware, and the consumer will want to dictate what retailers or services have access. In a consumer-centric economy, the consumer will continue to have the last word.
  • Posted on: 01/13/2021

    Walmart to deliver groceries to temp-controlled smart boxes at customers’ homes

    All valid points!
  • Posted on: 01/13/2021

    Will contactless Hudson Nonstop concept stores take off in airports?

    Outside of the time it will take for passengers to become accustomed to this new, imperative technology, this is the way of the future. The concept has ramifications like reduced transmission of microbes, efficient checkout, and increased expediency of the entire purchase process. If it is not cost-prohibitive to implement (and I do think that this is very expensive at this time) and can be considered accurate, it will be here to stay, or it will come back when both of those criteria can be met.
  • Posted on: 01/12/2021

    Will becoming a fintech powerhouse make Walmart an even more formidable retailer?

    Walmart has very deep pockets. When it launches this company, if run by the right people, it will make Walmart a formidable leader in retail and retail innovation. If it doesn't work, they will sell it or close it and write it off. Walmart can do what not many can.

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