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: 10/29/2020

    Kohl’s triples down on active lifestyle categories

    Totally agree. See my comment.
  • Posted on: 10/29/2020

    Do retailers need to make price optimization a priority right now?

    Whether we know it or not, dynamic pricing is possible now, both online and in-store. Most retailers have not built the systems and technology infrastructure to implement it in-store. We manufacture price tags today that identify the item. We don't need to put a price on the tags; we can display the pricing in electronic display tags and, because most retail stores are connected with their corporate systems, pricing can be changed from the corporate office by store, and by time of day. The danger is that it will confuse the customer base (as do the airlines) and the full impact may easily be more negative than positive.
  • Posted on: 10/29/2020

    Kohl’s triples down on active lifestyle categories

    This is an opportunistic move and well founded. However it will have been even more so if Kohl's can be flexible enough to shift back the mix when the pandemic is no longer an influence and customers would like to return to some extent to somewhat more "dressy" dressing. I don't think we all want to live in running shorts and sweatpants forever.
  • Posted on: 10/26/2020

    Where are curbside and BOPIS services falling short?

    Since I have not used it (yes, I admit it) I can only visualize the optimal BOPIS execution model. Among the very important components are: clear parking-lot/street signage directing the customer to the proper pick-up area; smooth traffic pattern design so that customers can access and leave the designated pick-up area without battling other traffic flows; pick-accuracy (this can be supported by technology), and preventing out-of-stocks (this can only be partially supported by technology). BOPIS is not optimized yet but it will continue to improve as retailers become more inventive and others follow and, since BOPIS is here to stay, continuous improvement (kaizen) is in order.
  • Posted on: 10/23/2020

    Can Gap prosper without mall stores?

    The malls are diminishing in importance. Many (the B and C malls) are closing. Gap and many other retailers see the writing on the wall as do the major mall developers in the country. Gap can function in strip malls. They will keep mall stores, but only in the better-performing malls. (Why would they do anything else?) Unfortunately for the malls, Gap's exit from many malls is a self-fulfilling prophecy: "...we're pulling out of many malls because they are dying, and many malls will die because retailers such as Gap are leaving the malls."
  • Posted on: 10/22/2020

    Are immersive technologies ready to build online buying trust?

    I don't think it will "define" the online buying experience but in the product categories that are relevant (not hammers and screwdrivers), certainly!
  • Posted on: 10/22/2020

    Are immersive technologies ready to build online buying trust?

    Well, I initially thought the same about buying an automobile online without driving it (I thought it would never happen) and I have been proven completely wrong.
  • Posted on: 10/22/2020

    Amazon will pay you to know what you bought somewhere else

    ...unless Amazon can figure out how to extrapolate the data collected from Paula's "such a small number of receipts." Amazon will know the demographics of the shopper panel, will learn what they buy/bought somewhere else, compare the demographics of shopper panel to those of their entire known customer base and make inferences as to what to offer and how to price for the macrocosm of customers. Clever...
  • Posted on: 10/21/2020

    Will Lowe’s customers ‘gift’ their homes for the holidays?

    I bet that sales of those are up, too!
  • Posted on: 10/21/2020

    Will Lowe’s customers ‘gift’ their homes for the holidays?

    When we combine the boredom and sameness that we have been feeling with the fact we have more time to see what home improvements can be made, there is no question that those with the disposable income (a current problem for many) will purchase items to improve the setting in which they are somewhat stuck. It's a good idea.
  • Posted on: 10/20/2020

    Will virtual recruiting and onboarding hurt seasonal hiring?

    Online onboarding will be as successful as the quality of the questions asked to elicit responses to determine the appropriate level of employee. It's like taking a survey. The quality of the responses is directly related to the quality of the questions asked.
  • Posted on: 10/19/2020

    Should local book stores be taking on Amazon?

    Independent booksellers are small in number and those that will be born and thrive will be few but will cater to a demographic to which Amazon may not even be marketing; those seeking differentiation, rare, older editions, special subjects, etc. The #BoxedOut movement will help more than hinder in that it may awaken the awareness of those who forgot about the independent/neighborhood bookstore because they thought that Amazon had it all.
  • Posted on: 10/15/2020

    Is YouTube a shopping powerhouse waiting to happen?

    Wouldn't that be annoying?
  • Posted on: 10/14/2020

    Bed Bath & Beyond CEO’s turnaround plan may just work

    I have always been a fan of Bed Bath & Beyond and it was hard - because I am not a marketer - to understand why every customer of Bed Bath & Beyond's didn't feel like a kid in a candy store. Some of the things that will help with the recovery are: improvement in some IT aspects, weaning customers from the 20 percent-off coupons unless Bed Bath & Beyond can subtly make up the deficit in marking up the products, and constantly working on a friendly, service-oriented, product-knowledgeable store labor force. There is no substitute for this last effort in a footprint that large. We have some ideas...
  • Posted on: 10/12/2020

    Staples to accept returns from other stores

    The important things Staples must do are as follows: Drive traffic through a store whose products can easily be purchased online, and make sure that the service of processing returns is a break-even proposition at worst. If processing other companies' returns is going to cost Staples out of pocket, most likely it will not work.

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