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: 05/18/2022

    Are shoppable ads finally ready for prime time?

    Shoppable ads are an added convenience for the shopper, whether purposeful or casual.
  • Posted on: 05/18/2022

    Walmart and Target report higher sales and lower margins

    Do the "higher sales" account for inflated prices? If they don't, their sales were actually lower. This was to be expected. These two retailers don't rush to raise their prices much higher because they try to understand the demographic they serve, and the price hikes were enough to match the increase in the retailers' cost. That demographic would just cut back on the price points and quantities they typically buy.
  • Posted on: 05/17/2022

    Will Walmart’s career path strategy give it a recruiting advantage?

    Walmart is offering a path for every young person in, or coming into, the organization. It is a good investment. There will be some early attrition by employees from the program but, overall, the initiative will pay off for the company. Yes, Virginia, there was a time when we people enjoyed working for their retail employer and stayed with the company their entire working life. Bill Saum started as a stockboy in a Kmart and ended his working career as the president of the apparel division almost five decades later.
  • Posted on: 05/17/2022

    Which exec role should guide the path to the metaverse?

    The chief marketing officer should oversee the activities of retailers in the metaverse. The metaverse is enabled by technology but the technology is not the end objective. The objective is to first promote the retailer and its brand to the younger generations. If there is enough interest in the non-retail aspects of a retailer's presence in the metaverse, then the next step is to leverage the brand recognition into generating real sales, of real products that can be picked-up in store or delivered, using a real currency. There is a great exposure to a retailer/brand in the metaverse and the reputation of the brand is also the responsibility of the chief marketer. CTOs and CIOs will be partners but not the end-users.
  • Posted on: 05/16/2022

    Nordstrom Local is summering in the Hamptons

    There are not so many communities like the Hamptons around the country so the number of such pop-ups will also be small. The question is: is the result worth the effort?
  • Posted on: 05/16/2022

    Should Zara (and other retailers) be charging for online returns?

    Whether or not this panel encourages retailers to charge for the shipment of returns, it is a financial fact that this is costing somebody something and, therefore, someone is going to have to pay. It is not sustainable for retailers to continue to bear this cost (and other, similar costs). This bubble will burst. The event will manifest itself by either a rise in retail prices (not fair to all) or by charging the culprits (fair to everyone).
  • Posted on: 05/13/2022

    Will the lack of skilled people derail retail’s digital supply chain transformation?

    The lack of skilled talent is, at worst, temporary for the next five years. The labor market may change a light to yellow but it will not derail the transformation.
  • Posted on: 05/13/2022

    Pedigree and Walmart seek an end to pet homelessness

    It may not be "essential" but the concept will go a long way toward satisfying the retailer's customer constituency.
  • Posted on: 05/12/2022

    Has Best Buy found an outlet for future growth?

    There may be something here. The consumer electronics retailer is often plagued by "renters" who return the big-screen TV on the Monday after the big sports event, open-box items that cannot sell at full price though in perfect working order, and prior-year models that have to be cleared. Because of the nature of the category, these are all very salable items and creating an opportunity for the consuming public to take this load off Best Buy's hands is a win/win. It is hard to tell if a separate outlet store is the answer or if an "outlet" section within a full-line store would keep customers looking at new, full-price, higher-margin items.
  • Posted on: 05/11/2022

    Would grocery delivery be a healthy addition to Apple’s business?

    If knowledge is power, Apple has plenty of it. Those data can be mined multiple ways. The real question is whether or not Apple wants to be in that business (it is not their core), spin off a subsidiary with the right to access the data, or use the data elsewhere. I don't see the company that sells computers and high-end electronic gadgetry delivering groceries.
  • Posted on: 05/11/2022

    Do Netflix subscriber headwinds hold lessons for retailers?

    There are the "must-have" and the "nice-to-have" subscriptions. As disposable income diminishes because of other routine expense increases, some people will cancel or suspend their subscriptions. Subscriptions are one more place where some people can save. The interesting question is whether or not those same people will renew when the economy stabilizes at a comfortable level.
  • Posted on: 05/10/2022

    Can Starbucks replicate the ‘third place’ in the metaverse?

    You can't put it better than Howard Schultz's own comment on the topic. Starbucks has the right customer base and it's getting younger and more susceptible to involvement in the metaverse. Starbucks has been an innovator since it launched the "third place" concept nationally Consumption on-premises is significantly down therefore "digital consumption and engagement" can go up.
  • Posted on: 05/09/2022

    Should grocery shoppers and delivery personnel be talking?

    We are talking about hiring and/or training to a higher level of associate who can be trusted to communicate directly with the customer. At what cost can grocery afford to do this? Or will grocers be forced to raise their prices slightly in order to offer this additional convenience?
  • Posted on: 05/04/2022

    Will ‘shrinkflation’ grow into a big problem for CPG brands?

    The alternative to increasing prices outright is by reducing the product size while keeping the price the same; a practice which I call deceptive.
  • Posted on: 05/04/2022

    L.L.Bean is taking a month-long mental health break from social media

    Maybe it's L.L.Bean's way of making more time available for its consumers to conduct outside activities by reducing the daily screen time for a month.

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