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: 12/14/2017

    San Francisco limits robots on its sidewalks

    We are treading dangerous waters with autonomous delivery drones. The sidewalks and the skies can become dangerously overcrowded if numbers and speed (and even time of day) are not regulated. This is going to be a politically-divisive argument. I know where my vote will be; go San Francisco!
  • Posted on: 12/14/2017

    Will chatbots replace customer service reps?

    Chatbots will replace humans for most calls. They will solve the mundane problems without a problem (pardon the redundancy), however, it will take a long time before a chatbot can figure out every question from anybody (including from those who do not express themselves properly) and be of any use. I hope to live long enough to see it.
  • Posted on: 12/14/2017

    Target to make same-day delivery push with Shipt acquisition

    As we have seen in a number of other sectors, this type of complementary acquisition allows -- in this case -- Target to be in the professional shipping business almost overnight. It is a win/win situation.
  • Posted on: 12/12/2017

    Why are so many brand categories woefully bad at word-of-mouth?

    Tech products are more exciting than most and that's why there is WOM buzz around them. Similarly, foods appeal to the very powerful sense of taste and, therefore, word travels fast by mouth. All of this makes sense. A good question to ask is: are these brands that are not getting a lot of traction through WOM worth talking about in the first place? Are they as interesting as a new electronics gadget? Are they as alluring as Talent ice cream is tasty?
  • Posted on: 12/11/2017

    The new NYC Nike store will have a members-only floor

    An entire floor in an expensive real estate space? Overkill. There are more efficient ways to pamper your loyal members.
  • Posted on: 12/11/2017

    Penney gets fashionable with its Jacques Penné pop-up

    The initiatives are an example of what retailers are trying in order to generate excitement, especially those that have been experiencing sales woes. Fortunately for J.C. Penney, it can afford to try a few different things and see what sticks and where. (Not all neighborhoods are created equal.) Jacques Penné sounds kicky and catchy, and may play well with the intended audience. Good luck to Jacques. Let's wait and see.
  • Posted on: 12/08/2017

    Amazon is (quietly) upending private branding. Will others follow?

    Amazon can afford the luxury of trying out different products, price points and private label names, simply because of its size, that other retailers may not. When this is the case, retailers would be wise to develop one or two private label brands for which they will be known and desired. It's almost impossible for the vast majority of retailers to compete with Amazon in terms of scale, so they must devise and rely upon other means to compete for a slice the of the overall pie.
  • Posted on: 12/06/2017

    Dollar General is betting on the continuing decline of the middle class

    If a retailer that is not serving the "poorer consumers" is going to target that class, it would have to be under a different brand with a curated assortment of products and pricing, leveraging what the retailer already knows about operating a retail chain successfully. Otherwise, don't bother. You may just dilute your existing brand and disappoint your current franchise.
  • Posted on: 12/06/2017

    Will mobile move the needle for J. Crew – this holiday and beyond?

    While staying abreast of and keeping pace with mobility is necessary in order to compete on a level playing field, the basic problem with most retailers is the merchandise and/or the price. If you don't have those right, and cannot attract your former client base, mobility and other technological wonders are not going to do it. Having too many (some underperforming) stores doesn't help and having to carry a heavy debt load is like going for a swim with a boat anchor tied around your neck.
  • Posted on: 12/05/2017

    Which off-price retailers will withstand the test of time?

    Off-price works when the product is comprised of recognizable brands at a perceived value. It is easy to over-store the segment and difficult to determine how many outlets is just enough, especially when one has been successful in the past. The trick is to pinpoint how much runway there is in one's category. I agree with Dick Seesel. There is going be consolidation.
  • Posted on: 12/05/2017

    Subscription services are moving beyond just being surprise boxes

    Retailers may want to consider allowing the customer to dictate the frequency with which these boxes are delivered and avoid saturating the customer with too much of a good thing. Content may be important to many but not to those who really are shoppers and are waiting for the next box to arrive. Personally, I am interested only in auto-replenishment subscriptions (of essentials and consumables). I don't need content or choices to keep and return. Are there many like me?
  • Posted on: 12/04/2017

    Barnes & Noble wants to get smaller, more bookish

    The challenge for any bookstore chain today is whether or not there are sufficient book readers out there who prefer hard-copy books to a digital source, like a Kindle. While the answer isn't obvious, it is a safe bet that large bookstores are not needed. Barnes & Noble may be able to survive as a smaller company, changing to smaller stores, catering to a smaller audience than years ago. Including some related items in the assortment, especially this that appeal to children in the learning stages of life appears wise. I agree with Mark Ryski.
  • Posted on: 12/04/2017

    Does Everlane need to open stores?

    The arguments for heretofore pure-play e-tailers opening stores have been the education of the consumer in a one-to-one setting, the fact that online sales increase in ZIP codes where there is a physical presence and, in the case of Everlane, the opportunity for its following to get physically in touch with a company that wants to be transparent and thereby satisfy its customers' curiosity. As Preysman says, taking it slowly and monitoring the consumers' repossess will tell the tale.
  • Posted on: 12/01/2017

    Will click & collect finally compel retailers to remodel stores?

    The investments may not be "massive" but they will have to be made. The "will-call" storage space has to be allocated, the associates retrained to deal with a new function and the check-out process needs to be accommodated. As already stated, "BOPIS is here to stay" and the in-store operations and design have to evolve to accommodate it elegantly.
  • Posted on: 12/01/2017

    What is increased mobile holiday traffic doing for sales?

    Mobile traffic will shift the sale from some other channel to mobile. That said, it remains incumbent upon retailers to realize that the shift (not increase) in sales is taking place and be prepared to offer it, support it and enhance it.

Contact Bob

  • Apply to be a BrainTrust Panelist

  • Please briefly describe your qualifications — specifically, your expertise and experience in the retail industry.