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: 06/05/2020

    Should Amazon, Walmart, others be held liable for workers sickened by COVID-19?

    This pandemic was an unknown before it came upon us. Very few knew anything when we began to feel the impact. While the safety of its employees and customers should be of primary importance to any business, looking for culpability in this particular instance does not serve anyone well. If someone can prove negligence, such as a retailer having received guidelines and not followed them later in the development, those employees may have a case.
  • Posted on: 06/03/2020

    Is the future of retailing going dark?

    Not a simple concept because of the inventory management aspect: right stuff in the right place at the right time? The more inventory locations a company has, the more susceptible it is to bloating inventories. Most companies have not mastered this art, yet.
  • Posted on: 06/03/2020

    Lowe’s ‘virtually’ goes on the job for home improvement pros

    This is an innovative way to gain and maintain loyalty among the professional tradespeople. It can provide support where the tradesperson needs it, on the job site. The concept has further applicability in other businesses, such as field maintenance companies.
  • Posted on: 06/02/2020

    Do retailers need to go beyond ‘reopening playbooks’?

    This is a function of company culture and, within that culture, how and how often must corporate leadership drive the message down to the lowest level of the field organization. Retail has the (technical) tools. Retailers can produce videos for stores' hourly and managerial personnel to view. They can deliver audio messages to all store personnel (I am working with a product company that does exactly that, and very effectively). They can drive appropriate and catchy signage (whether hard copy or digital) that drives home the concepts and the protocols for re-opening safely, and they should create a help desk group within the operations department that will answer questions and take on suggestions from the field. It's all question of how important top management perceives these actions to be.
  • Posted on: 06/02/2020

    Nordstrom crushes inventory optimization

    One undeniable albeit obvious fact is that, with three distinct channels/formats i.e. full-price brick-and-mortar, off-price brick-and-mortar, and e-commerce, any retailer has at least one safety valve, sometimes two, to relieve the pressure of excess inventory. Nordstrom is not the only retailer in this position but it is a good position in which to be. All that notwithstanding, Nordstrom's losses of more than one half a billion dollars for the quarter are not chump change.
  • Posted on: 05/27/2020

    Bookstores could be in store for a post-lockdown boom

    One would have thought that online booksellers would be the beneficiaries of the pandemic. People having to stay in, and with more available time to read one would have expected that it would have induced more electronic downloading of books for purchase. It is not easy to determine how brick-and-mortar stores would have benefited during the pandemic in the U.S. but maybe they will experience a resurgence in popularity post-pandemic.
  • Posted on: 05/27/2020

    Are store brands set for a big growth spurt?

    Like many habits that will have changed permanently because of COVID-19, shopping habits will also. Maybe because of financial stress, or because of supply shortages, private brands got a boost. if some consumers find no appreciable difference in quality or taste, they will stay with many private label products permanently. Those private label brands that have distinguished their product through quality coupled with price will be the winners of increased market share.
  • Posted on: 05/26/2020

    Lowe’s and Home Depot get a boost as customers stay-at-home

    The pandemic has brought attention to home improvement. When you see the same thing that needs repair day after day after day, you will finally fix it. The sector can't lose. As to curbside pick-up, let us please not forget that the home improvement business - especially competent independent businesses, had you backing your pick-up truck to a loading bay or dock for the last eight decades. There is little new under the sun; it just looks different.
  • Posted on: 05/26/2020

    Should Apple and other stores require shopper temperature checks?

    Irrespective of what some municipalities, states, beach-and-worship goers say, this is a potentially deadly disease and must follow the science. if the scientific protocol states that this is de rigueur then, as inconvenient as some may find it, that is what all retail businesses (and airlines, and movie theaters, and so on...) should be doing. Trading a nice new MacPro for potential death doesn't seem equitable.
  • Posted on: 05/20/2020

    IKEA’s play fort ads illustrate what’s good about times like these

    Some people and the companies for which they work are very creative and this is a winner no matter from which perspective we look at it.
  • Posted on: 05/19/2020

    Is Amazon about to buy J.C. Penney?

    I agree. With cash on hand, Amazon can afford to buy, pick apart, retain and/or spin off. The only thing that I don't think Amazon can do with the acquisition, is to try to continue to operate in most malls. Malls do not look like a hot prospect for J.C. Penney except for the very few, very good malls.
  • Posted on: 05/15/2020

    How can brands support shuttered independent retailers?

    I have never been an advocate of DTC sales by brands that also wholesale to retailers. They are competing with the very channel that got them started on selling product in the first place. Therefore anything that brands can do to help the independents, during and post COVID-19, is a move in the right direction. Sharing commissions is but a small gesture.
  • Posted on: 05/12/2020

    How should retailers manage touch-but-not-buy?

    Fitting rooms can be kept safe if -- and if, and if. This means gloves and masks worn by customers and associates, sanitizing the dressing rooms and spacing out customer access. Magic mirrors wouldn't hurt but one cannot turn those on overnight. These measures are not going to enhance the customer experience, a phrase used furiously until the pandemic struck, and almost no in-store purchase or return will be "frictionless."
  • Posted on: 05/12/2020

    What has made Walmart a shutdown star?

    Retailers have been trying to emulate Walmart for decades. Retailers and individuals can learn from Walmart but what they learn is not easy to replicate. Walmart is on a different scale, with very large financial resources. Those characteristics give Walmart the ability to try and trash, hide mistakes, and it gives them more advantages than almost all others. As will have been the case with many retailers, Walmart will have learned that certain changes they might not have made pre-COVID-19 are, in fact, keepers for the long term. No healthy retailer has been spared the benefit of lessons learned as a result of the pandemic, from Walmart to mom and pops.
  • Posted on: 05/08/2020

    Will mall owner’s $5 billion revitalize retailers weakened by COVID-19?

    This is a perfect example of being able to help your own cause and actually doing it. Of course not everyone can do this type of thing. Those with some deep cash reserves are in a good position to invest in their own future. After all, they can't collect rent from retailers that have gone out of business, or have declared bankruptcy with rents owed.

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