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: 06/24/2022

    Is the metaverse opportunity getting any clearer?

    If the metaverse does not eventually increase sales due to improved customer loyalty and the "cool" factor, then it is not worth the effort. However those retailers that have already delved into it are using the metaverse to create interest and stickiness among potential customers. In other words, as a marketing tool for a set younger than Baby Boomers and their children. Some retailers have gone the step beyond and are making it possible to convert playtime and entertainment into a real purchase of a real palpable product. If the only expectation from the metaverse is to make money selling digital-only "things," it will become a short-lived phenomenon.
  • Posted on: 06/23/2022

    There might soon be no one left to hire at Amazon’s warehouses

    If the pace at Amazon warehouses is that frantic, and accepted by top management, Amazon can create shorter shifts, higher pay, improve the environment with recreational areas, exercise rooms, relaxation lounges, and hourly pay raises. Maybe a 30-hour week in a pressure-filled Amazon warehouse is the equivalent of a 40-hour week anywhere else. Worth a try?
  • Posted on: 06/17/2022

    Ultra-fast delivery may burn out or fade away

    Fifteen-minute delivery is a once-in-a-long-while need. Is it worth it for retailers to invest in being able to provide ultra-fast delivery of their own? No. Is that an opportunity for a third party to provide the delivery service? Sure, but it is the retailer that has to be able to receive and process an order in very short order, even if another entity will pick it up to deliver it within the 15 minutes promised.
  • Posted on: 06/13/2022

    Should retailers charge for curbside pickup?

    Any additional service has a cost and a value. Free anything can work for consumer and retailer with minimum order size, and with annual membership fees.
  • Posted on: 06/09/2022

    Is Franchise Group’s plan for Kohl’s a retail disaster in the making?

    Unless Franchise Group has special and different plans than franchising Kohl's, this is a questionable investment. There has been more than one example of businesses that were doing well after an acquisition, but for the fact that they just couldn't service a huge debt, causing their demise. It would be sad if the same fate awaited Kohl's as a result of this transaction. There has to be a better deal out there.
  • Posted on: 06/08/2022

    Should retailers prepare to serve customers in ‘post-car’ suburbs?

    Maybe your company should be renamed 'mondofuori" (world outside). :-)
  • Posted on: 06/08/2022

    Is an urban retail recovery underway?

    I predict a slow return to the inner city. A younger generation has been wanting to live where they can walk out of a rental or condominium building and be in the center of it all. But what will be the attractions of the inner city be, now that many people may not have to go to an office every day? Entertainment? Cultural activities? Shopping?
  • Posted on: 06/08/2022

    Should retailers prepare to serve customers in ‘post-car’ suburbs?

    I am wondering how merchandise gets into the stores in such an environment, if trucks are not allowed. Drones that lower the product vertically from the sky into a rooftop might work. Not so for pianos, furniture, and white goods...
  • Posted on: 06/07/2022

    Target isn’t wasting any time in cutting the glut from its inventory

    Target appears to be taking a realistic approach to what industry and economy pundits predict will be a difficult period (of undetermined duration). Everyone can be a great merchant/operator in good times but a few can do it in down times.
  • Posted on: 06/07/2022

    Will automated fulfillment centers deliver big results for Walmart?

    Ship-from-store and FCs each provide a different benefit. Stores provide the proximity to the customer to complete that last mile, while the efficiency of a fully-automated FC should provide unequaled speed and accuracy of picking, packing and shipping multiple orders D2C, or to a regional redistribution hub. Very little is black or white anymore.
  • Posted on: 06/06/2022

    Does Lululemon have to sweat inflation?

    One would think that for consumers that were willing to spend more for Lululemon's activewear, inflation will not be a significant deterrent. For aspirational shoppers, it might well be.
  • Posted on: 06/03/2022

    Circle K’s new self-checkouts are kicking barcode scanners to the curb

    Let's answer the second question first. Circle K's competitors will, at minimum, test and experiment with formats and hardware. They will all do something in the next three years. If consumers find (or even notice) that it takes longer for self-checkout than by cashier, they will return to the cashier as long as lines are not very long which, in a convenience store, they should not be. For self-checkout to be as fast or faster than checkout by cashier, everything has to work: product recognition, tendering, product flow, and ease of use. In addition, one has to factor in the amount of experience of a cashier versus both the occasional and the "regular" customer.
  • Posted on: 05/31/2022

    Why are retailers struggling so hard to balance inventory?

    Assuming that it is true that many retailers "are finding it hard to balance inventories" was there a time when they got it right for two seasons in a row? I think not. Regardless of new technology like AI or demand forecasting there is this thing called reality -- like war, frozen supply chain, inflation, pandemic -- against which the best models won't help. The ultimate accuracy in inventory management would be to publish the catalog, sell one, manufacture it and ship it, and wait for the next order. Who wants to go back to that future?
  • Posted on: 05/27/2022

    When the going gets tough, consumers shop dollar stores

    Yes. These stores' raison d'être is to cater to low-income demographics.
  • Posted on: 05/27/2022

    Can body neutrality messaging replace body positivity?

    Regardless of where we wind up, influenced by over-the-top political correctness, ours has been and continues to be a culture - unlike some - in which the svelte and healthy looking have always been admired.

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