Paula Rosenblum

Managing Partner, RSR Research

Paula Rosenblum is co-founder and Managing Partner at RSR Research and is widely recognized as one of the industry’s top retail technology analysts. She has been selected as one of the “Top 50 Retail Technology Influencers” from 2014 -2018. She also writes a blog for Forbes and is frequently quoted in other major media outlets including the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, LA Times, NPR Marketplace and many others. She serves on the advisory board of three consumer goods import companies.

Previous to her years as an analyst, she spent over 20 years as a retail technology executive and CIO at companies including iParty, Hit or Miss, Morse Shoe, Domain Home Fashions and others.

Paula received her MBA in 1991 from Northeastern University, with a major in management of High Technology firms and was nominated to the Beta Gamma Sigma honor society. She’s active in a variety of organizations supporting human growth and development, and in particular has been involved with the RetailROI charity since its earliest days.

Other Links from Paula Rosenblum:

RSR Research blog

  • Posted on: 12/12/2019

    Kroger and Walgreens are in a purchasing alliance and seeking more partners

    There are some complexities here that haven't been addressed. If the consortium goes beyond small lots and starts buying truckloads, technically they should get the exact same pricing as any other company that buys a truckload. It's called the Robinson Patman act, and while it hasn't been well-enforced (Walmart clearly gets its own pricing), it's an issue. Companies like Costco have different packaging and quantities to get around it. Perhaps if it's a consortium's private label they can get around it that way, but care must be taken.
  • Posted on: 12/04/2019

    The holiday season promises many unhappy returns for retailers

    Honestly, returns are just part of the cost of doing business direct to consumers. The “overall” number is meaningless, as it’s pretty important to look at product category and point of delivery. I have been around the DTC space for a very long time, and a 25 percent return rate for apparel was considered “really good.” I have heard that Amazon is at 35 percent (not verified...pure hearsay, but I wouldn’t be surprised). I also don’t believe that it’s cheaper for the retailer when consumers return product bought online to stores, rather than to the DC. Maybe in a big box it kinda-sorta works, but stores were not made to be processing centers. They were made to sell stuff. And I’ve designed returns processing systems for catalog retailers. It’s a complex process anywhere. I don’t see any way around it -- a return replaces the fitting room, really. Try it on. If you like it, keep it. If not, send it back. Think how many more items you try on in-store that you don’t buy. That’s what happens online. But it is a bit worse, as the product doesn’t get dirty or wrinkled on a trip to the fitting room. It can be both when it has made a round trip to the consumer and back. I have no easy solution. I just know this is a fact of life.
  • Posted on: 11/21/2019

    Is Target killing department stores and specialty clothing chains?

    I've felt that one reason Gap's brands were not doing so well is that it's easy to look at the styles and say "I could get that at Target." For me electronics at Target are an afterthought, but I'll bet the everyday shopper is buying those there too. But it really is in clothes and specialty items that Target is rampaging through the market.
  • Posted on: 11/20/2019

    Will a hack ruin Macy’s Christmas?

    The only retail data breach I can recall that caused a stir was the Target breach several years ago. But it wasn't the breach itself that created ill will -- it was the company's response, which was to arbitrarily put limits on all its corporate debit cards, instead of just issuing new ones. One lesson I learned from that was to never shop using a debit card. Ever. The laws are too sketchy. A credit card breach in and of itself rarely bothers consumers. The liability all lives elsewhere.
  • Posted on: 11/18/2019

    What will happen now that Five Below has gone above $5?

    The obvious question is, how many dollar stores really sell stuff for a dollar anymore? I believe just one - Dollar Tree. So has that hurt their value proposition? In the case of those that are not doing well, I would say too big a foray into food was a bigger culprit. Others are doing just fine, thank you.
  • Posted on: 11/15/2019

    Should customers just be paid for their data?

    My data is something that belongs to me. If someone wants to see it, they should indeed compensate me for it. How much? I guess the market will have to decide. The other value of getting paid for your data is you can and should be able to just say no. Google's exploits with insurer Ascension has re-opened the privacy Pandora's Box - infuriating ANYONE who hears what they've been doing. If you haven't seen it, search for "Project Nightingale." At RSR we believe that the quest for privacy is a sleeping tiger that is about to wake up again. At least paying for it acknowledges who it belongs to.
  • Posted on: 11/14/2019

    Shoptalk makes a statement with a conference featuring only women speakers

    I think it's a clever hook, to have all female speakers. I don't think it's any more of a statement than that. Now, retailers don't do a particularly good job of recognizing ANY talent in their ranks - particularly stores - because the transient nature of the in-store workforce is baked into their business model, but that's not really what we're talking about here. Maybe we're not doing anyone any justice by calling the shopper "she." It sort of presumes housewives are doing the shopping, while men do other things to be busy. Or presumes her interest in the latest fashion (vs. men's interest) and dinner menus. It's an old, boring story. Straight from the movie Mad Men. In the midst of an otherwise dismal campaign, Kamala Harris has done one thing I find very interesting: the pronoun she uses to describe future or hypothetical presidents is "she," not "he." We've certainly never had a she (almost doesn't count), but Harris makes the point in that subtle way, "we certainly could." And she has talked about it. I am generally not a fan of pronoun bingo, but she may well be on to something. Let's start calling the shopper "he." Let's start calling the executive "she." I don't know how to successfully legislate consciousness, so maybe we should try a different route. And in full disclosure I never, ever let a man get in my way in the retail industry. I had my share of bosses complaining about my hair style (yes, really), "jiggling their coins" in meetings, and generally trying to be dominant. Didn't work so well. a.) I was smart and b.) my "Brooklyn" was always stronger than my "girl" aspects. When I was done in the corporate world, I was just done. It was my call. But I want to honor my younger, non-Brooklyn sisters.
  • Posted on: 11/13/2019

    What happens now that Nike has called off its deal with Amazon?

    I can't keep up with Nike, to be honest. Every year, it completely changes its strategy. Spend millions on stores (we have one on Lincoln Road) and then declare within a year of completion that it's only going to focus on 12 worldwide and Miami is not one -- but Amazon will be a key partner. Then Jet will be a key partner. Now this. It's a very jittery management process. I will say the stores are VERY operationally efficient. I question the merchandising a bit, and the use of space, but these people do know how to use technology in the store. I think the most important thing is to settle on SOMETHING ... It's certainly not a role model for any other brand manager or retailer.
  • Posted on: 11/11/2019

    Did social media spook Party City’s Halloween sales?

    I smelled this coming (and am actually going to write a blog about it today). I was watching TV the week before Halloween and Party City was running a 20 percent off promotion on costumes. You gotta understand, no one does that. You could RAISE the prices on costumes the week before Halloween and shoppers would accept it. I knew right then they were in trouble. Further, I've been seeing photographs for weeks from all around the country that showed Halloween product being replaced by Christmas product, before Halloween, at all kinds of stores, including Target and Walmart. The question we really have to ask ourselves is "Is this the canary in the coal mine for the holiday season?" I don't buy the social media story. I just don't. I think DIY is cheaper. Simple as that.
  • Posted on: 11/08/2019

    Gap Inc.’s CEO steps down. What comes next?

  • Posted on: 11/08/2019

    Gap Inc.’s CEO steps down. What comes next?

    Operational excellence is not what's going to bring Gap back from its current moribund state. The company needs a MERCHANT. Look at the namesake chain's website. Is there anything on there that says "special" or "unique" or "I sure couldn't get that at Target?" No ... sure, there is the scattered Gap logoed sweatshirts, but those are mostly a novelty now. And I'm also sure knock-offs are available. It wasn't rocket science to say "Gap has too many stores" and to pick the ones to close. And expense cutting and operational enhancements likely found low-hanging fruit that was ignored during the growth era. But I think that has played itself out. It's magic that will bring the brand back with some kind of signature look(s). So Gap needs a bit of magic. Mr. Peck is a smart and good guy. I'm sure Mr. Murphy was, too. But a better top line will help cure Gap's ills more than 50 percent off sales and finding the stray penny lying on the selling floor.
  • Posted on: 11/06/2019

    Food halls drive mall traffic, not clothing sales

    Personally, I think it's too soon to tell. There are a lot of forces at play here. The goal is for the retailers to do their part and make their stores more shoppable, and the mall operators to do their part and make the mall a place shoppers would like to go to. I just think a year or so into this new era is early to declare victory or defeat. There are a LOT of extraneous forces at play.
  • Posted on: 11/05/2019

    Is Amazon starting to fall out of favor with American consumers?

    No market is infinite, and Amazon seems to be reaching the edge of its market. Plus, you gotta give Walmart some props here. The company, under Doug McMillon has shifted its reputation and capabilities pretty masterfully. In fact, I think retailers, who spent years terrified of Walmart, are taking note of how it deals with being the "underdog." Innovate, expand, and follow the consumer. Amazon isn't going away, but I think the days of them saying things like "oh yeah, we're re-investing our profits in R&D" and having analysts believe it are over too. Retail is going to be healthy.
  • Posted on: 11/04/2019

    Should McDonald’s CEO have been fired over a ‘consensual relationship’?

    These policies have been in place in various industries for a long time. My sister had to quit her job as a bank exec almost 30 years ago because she was falling in love with her boss. It's an oddity, and I do wonder what the risk is -- it does seem like a holdover from another era.
  • Posted on: 11/01/2019

    Survey says consumers want online orders shipped fast and free

    We did a study on home delivery way back in 2015, and even then consumers weren't keen to pay for shipping and felt no need to pay to get things faster. Still, we don't always need everything right away, so it's not always a punishment if a retailer can't deliver in two days.

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