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: 08/15/2017

    Is Target ready to make a move on the home delivery front?

    The trend is clear: the larger players -- whether pure-play e-commerce or pure-play stores -- are acquiring best-of-breed businesses to help them transcend from one channel to many. Provided that the cultures match, this approach to getting to the goal line quicker is a win/win. The acquisition should help Target significantly.
  • Posted on: 08/14/2017

    Will Aldi upset the grocery home delivery cart?

    For a discounter to deliver without fees would spell disaster. If consumers find the discounted prices so attractive that the delivery fee is worth the convenience, they'll do just fine! Wait and see.
  • Posted on: 08/08/2017

    Should executive pay structures change to address slower growth at retail?

    While it is true that pay structures are misaligned, the fact remains that compensation should be commensurate with the size of the business one runs, meeting certain objectives (not all related to pure growth) and, eventually, profitability.
  • Posted on: 08/07/2017

    Is agile fulfillment the solution to retail’s renaissance?

    Retailers will need to increase their focus on agility of fulfillment. That agility will be supported or provided by a combination of computer systems that integrate all the fulfillment locations and permutations seamlessly, in real-time, combined with the ability to procure product -- down to the SKU level -- more quickly than had been possible more than three or four years ago.
  • Posted on: 08/04/2017

    Can customer journey methodology level the playing field for brick and mortar retail?

    The basic requirement for brick-and-mortar retailers to implement these tools is to know who the customer is. E-commerce retailers have this information by default. The Costcos of the industry know this because of the membership model. Once the traditional retailer can identify each customer, it knows who bought what on what day and time and with what other items, and can then put these tools to work for them just like e-tailers and Costco.
  • Posted on: 07/28/2017

    Should stores entertain bored tag-along shoppers?

    Retailers can either give tag-alongs something to do or something to buy (on impulse). What retailers cannot do is to ignore them because to do so may negatively impact how long the true buyer remains in the store.
  • Posted on: 07/27/2017

    Can robots keep shelves stocked at Schnucks?

    The robots fill the gap between what the inventory management system thinks is on the shelves and what is actually on the shelves. However, if it takes a robot to realize that Schnucks has to contact the supplier to solve a potential out-of-stock, there is something drastically wrong with Schnucks' inventory system. At first blush, it appears like spending money on a solution to solve a problem that shouldn't exist. Schnucks' customers will benefit, vendors may or may not realize an uptick in sales and the employees should receive more immediate directives to re-stock the holes in the shelves and become more productive.
  • Posted on: 07/26/2017

    Can in-store experiences save retail?

    There is no pat answer. Strategies in retail should and will vary with the product category. Some categories will benefit from the in-store experience (remember if you can the department stores of old: the glamour, the assortment and the service). Other categories will be the domain of the online retailer. As the author points out, shopping for some things is a ho-hum event. Data analytics will play a part but getting customers into the store is more closely related to the shopping experience.
  • Posted on: 07/21/2017

    Will customers use an Amazon app to chat?

    The devout Amazonies may opt to use Amazon to also chat, but does the marketplace need yet another chat vehicle? From Amazon's perspective, it's understandable. From the consumer's perspective, it may be one-too-many apps.
  • Posted on: 07/20/2017

    Is the one-stop grocery shop coming to an end?

    Size of household, disposable income and freshness of produce are all factors. You want fresh, you make multiple trips. If you have the cash flow, you buy certain things at a Costco in large quantities instead of the local supermarket. If you want top quality meats or fish, you may go to your local specialty market. We do all of those.
  • Posted on: 07/17/2017

    Is e-commerce a job builder or killer?

    We are witnessing a shift in job growth. Staffing fulfillment of warehouses may not be done with the same caliber of people with which one staffs retail stores. However, there are other job growth areas tied to the growth of e-commerce and so the overall picture may be a zero-sum game.
  • Posted on: 07/12/2017

    How is Walgreens getting older shoppers to use its mobile app?

    It's a real challenge. The app has to be very intuitive and not 'slick." Older people are not wowed by slick, they want it clear and simple. There are some who will never come around and will want to talk to a human. Features that are transferable to other retail apps are touch ID, larger fonts, simplified menus and easy-to-redeem rewards (many in this group may be retired and living on limited finances). A lot of this is about human engineering and psychology.
  • Posted on: 07/11/2017

    Are retailers measuring omnichannel all wrong?

    While the metric would be telling, the question I have is: how do we measure sales per customer engagement-minute? Associates don't walk around with a stopwatch when they engage a customer and they can't be relied upon to "begin" an engagement transaction on some mobile device until a sale is consummated.
  • Posted on: 07/10/2017

    Should Walmart restrict carriers from working with Amazon?

    Typical Walmart. Typically predatory tactic.
  • Posted on: 07/07/2017

    How important is biometric verification for mobile payments?

    Well, I mentioned one (Apple) ... But we agree in concept.

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