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: 01/22/2020

    Is a ‘hassle cost’ justified in resolving customer service issues?

    I must be living on a different planet. That has never happened to me and there have been plenty of opportunities. Retailers have come to realize that goodwill is worth a great deal and, if they want to, they can hide the cost of good will in one or two points in gross margin. Now, when it comes to medical insurance claims...
  • Posted on: 01/22/2020

    Has BOPIS changed holiday selling?

    There is definitely an advantage to those retailers that provide the BOPIS feature. It can be extremely helpful to the last-minute shopper or to that customer with a special situation. However, over time, consumers will become more disciplined in the way they shop and may need the BOPIS feature less often. That evolution should not be mistaken with a lack of need for the BOPIS feature. BOPIS should be here to stay, even if used less often over time.
  • Posted on: 01/21/2020

    Does IKEA need parking lots?

    If IKEA (and any other retailer) can consistently deliver as promised, the urban stores can thrive without parking lots or garages. As pointed out in another RetailWire discussion today, trends are changing. Today's labor force wants to live in urban areas, ditch the automobile, walk or take public transportation. That all spells out that even retailers of furniture can do business in urban areas and everybody (the consumer, the retailer, and the environment) wins.
  • Posted on: 01/21/2020

    Does convenience trump price for today’s consumer?

    These values have changed over time. Convenience and quality appear to be as or more important than price. Retailers need to ensure that websites are easy to navigate and transactions easy to consummate. Retailers also need to ensure that their inventory systems accurately reflect what is available for pick-up in-store. Retailers need to improve the training of associates and apply methods for making these associates advocates for the business and the products it sells. Much of shopping is a necessity and, therefore, it has to be convenient to access, easy to find products, pay and leave. When shopping is a leisurely activity the needs can change, but that is the exception, not the rule.
  • Posted on: 01/13/2020

    Walmart U.S. CEO: Good retail jobs are much more than good pay

    Retention has always been an imperative in retail, albeit often times overlooked or ignored outright. In today’s customer centric environment, in which we wish to entrust more of the store’s interaction with the customer to the front line associate, which is more costly, to train and retrain or to reward?
  • Posted on: 01/07/2020

    Do alcohol and shopping mix?

    To your point, many upscale retailers offer their customers (within their own four walls) a glass of Champagne. The open container is the next evolution.
  • Posted on: 01/07/2020

    Do alcohol and shopping mix?

    As evidenced by studies regarding alcohol consumption in different countries with their different cultures, open consumption of alcohol has a lot less to do with "where" and much to do with "how much." Among cultures where wine is consumed from an early age and always with a meal, this would not even have become a question. "A meal without wine is called breakfast."
  • Posted on: 01/06/2020

    Will 2020 be the year of elevated shopping experiences?

    2020 will be a year of "great vision."
  • Posted on: 01/06/2020

    Did Domino’s gouge Time Square revelers?

    Is it appropriate or inappropriate for concession stands to gouge captive audiences at professional sports events?
  • Posted on: 01/02/2020

    Are return rates out of control?

    Return rates probably are out of control and that is because return policies are too liberal, period.
  • Posted on: 12/23/2019

    Is BOPIS over its growing pains?

    Retailers may have figured it out but I doubt that all who do it have removed the kinks from the process. Delivering the orders to dedicated help for picking is paramount. If the product requires wrapping, add that to the list of obstacles. If the store does not have someone tending the pick-up counter, you can add more height to the obstacle. I have faith that those retailers that are not already doomed to bankruptcy will get it right.
  • Posted on: 12/19/2019

    Should the CMO role be retired, reinvented or reemphasized?

    One fact is that the industry has created too many C-level titles. Another fact is that it doesn't matter what nebulous C-level title a company invents and assigns to someone until one clearly defines the title. Another fact is that, except possibly for the salary involved, it doesn't really matter if a business has two C-level executives where another may have just one, as long as the company culture is such that the two know to collaborate with one another very tightly.
  • Posted on: 12/18/2019

    Bed Bath & Beyond’s CEO cleans house

    This is a tough question. Personally, I think that it's too quick, too radical. From a business perspective, if the new boss thinks that the bad situation of the business is their fault, why would he want them there? In his opinion, they were already not helping the business when he got there.
  • Posted on: 12/17/2019

    Why is Amazon banning FedEx ground delivery?

    Paula is on it. This seems to be more about Amazon establishing itself as a carrier than about everything else. The timing couldn't be worse (they could have made this statement in July or August). Despite all the talk about sub-par performance on the part of FedEx, it could easily be about Amazon trying to gain market share by hurting the leading competitors.
  • Posted on: 12/16/2019

    Andy Dunn’s departure from Walmart indicative of a broader problem

    Entrepreneurs typically do not like reporting to anyone. Once their payouts are completed, there is less of a compelling reason to stay unless the founder of the acquired company is given fairly free rein (which s/he typically is not). You add up these factors with the entrepreneurial itch to create another new concept or company, and you have the reasons for the separation. The problem for the acquirer is the complete transfer of knowledge before the founder's departure.

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