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: 10/20/2017

    Drone-to-hand delivery could become a thing

    Although technically possible, this seems more like a solution looking for a problem to solve. This kind of service (if allowed) would crowd the airspace with drones, and could easily pose safety problems. The technology has much more practical value in life saving situations in which a person may need critical medicine and cannot get around. A drone could be a true life-line in such cases.
  • Posted on: 10/19/2017

    E-commerce chief expects Walmart to ‘crush it’ over next two years

    Scale is important to Walmart in order to beat out Amazon and vice versa, but smaller e-commerce players can be successful either by piggybacking onto one of the giants' resources and offerings through partnerships, or by what will become a wealth of third-party providers that will fill the gap between the scale of these retailers (small) and the scale they need in order to reduce costs and compete on speed (large). Much of the required size depends on the types of products for which the consumers are looking. I don't see a Walmart customer shopping for a David Yurman bracelet on Walmart's e-commerce websites.
  • Posted on: 10/17/2017

    What is the online marketplace opportunity for retailers?

    Brands should definitely participate in online marketplaces. Brands may want to participate in marketplaces specifically designed for the brands' demographic target and price point so as to keep some of their differentiation and uniqueness. Pricing considerations are important as the same product that a brand sells to brick-and-mortar chains may appear in an online marketplace. As to whether retailers should participate, that demands a different answer. Retailers need to own the relationship with the customer. Retailers themselves have an image to keep and should want to control that image themselves. The burden of being an online retailer is mastering the logistics of sipping individual orders, delivering to the last mile on a timely basis and accepting and processing returns. The marketplaces such as Amazon, Alibaba and eBay can apply economies of scale to those three components that typical retailers can't.
  • Posted on: 10/16/2017

    Should Coach Inc. have changed its name?

    These are highly impactful marketing decisions. All three brands; Coach, Stuart Weitzman and Kate Spade are well known and followed in their own right. Why mess with that and confuse all three constituencies?
  • Posted on: 10/16/2017

    A mall carves out pop-up space for online brands

    This concept is going to continue. Simon Property Group are not the only ones thinking about this and it makes sense. Now we have to add the retail systems component to the offering.
  • Posted on: 10/13/2017

    Amazon has plans to deliver packages to car trunks

    This idea appears to have limited value and smacks of an attempt to push the envelope to the point of creating a frantic environment. Society doesn't need all that immediacy. Is it worth the effort?
  • Posted on: 10/13/2017

    Are retailers shortchanging the digital transformation?

    While I agree that investing in an e-commerce platform that doesn't connect to the brick-and-mortar customer database or investing in a POS system that doesn't consider mobility are both wrong investments, there are other "traditional" systems in which retailers should continue to invest notwithstanding the emphasis on this movement we call the digital transformation and omnichannel retailing.Such systems as loyalty programs, warehouse management, financial management, inventory management, etc. cannot be forgotten in favor of these shiny new objects usurping every trade headline. They too help to run the business.
  • Posted on: 10/11/2017

    Meijer cuts IT staff as it moves to the cloud

    Agreed on all points. And to think that for a few years, many CIOs were so concerned about not housing the data, or not housing the applications in their own data centers ... it has taken a few years, but they are seeing the light.
  • Posted on: 10/11/2017

    Meijer cuts IT staff as it moves to the cloud

    We have been espousing outsourcing, SaaS applications and cloud computing since long before it because a daily topic of conversation. Any IT function that is not either intellectual property or one which represents a unique competitive advantage should be outsourced. It makes sense for Meijer as for any other company. The functions that should stay in-house are the technical support that often requires that a person walk to the office of the customer to install something or fix something that is broken. In some cases, the development of truly unique software applications that provide a true differentiation factor, and the IT knowledge of the business that will be the liaison to the outside world, should remain in-house.
  • Posted on: 10/06/2017

    Can e-tailers use ‘digital body language’ to convert shoppers?

    I would love to know the magnitude of the incremental sales that will be generated by such a sophisticated and scientific approach to selling. Usually good product at a reasonable price (the perceived-value proposition) is the ultimate reason shoppers buy from a specific retailer.
  • Posted on: 10/06/2017

    Costco ups its delivery game for online orders

    I believe that Costco, like many retailers, feels the pressure of having to be in the game of e-commerce. However in the case of Costco, the average consumer is probably more likely to purchase more items when going to the store than online. Galanti was realistic in saying that the company doesn't have enough data yet to assess the success of the tactic.
  • Posted on: 10/05/2017

    Can AR trigger TRU’s turnaround?

    I have been in information systems for four decades and there is no single technology that is capable of turning around a business. Technology, apps, etc. can contribute to a turnaround but not cause it.
  • Posted on: 10/05/2017

    Have retailers killed off Black Friday?

    I am 100 percent in favor of your last thought about Thanksgiving.
  • Posted on: 10/05/2017

    Have retailers killed off Black Friday?

    Not being a marketing person, I think that Black Friday is hype. The answer to how good the holiday season is going to be is: "how much demand is there for available goods and how much disposable income do consumers have?" If consumers want it and can afford it, it doesn't matter if they buy it the Thursday before, the Saturday after or on Friday. For individual retailers the important thing is from whom they buy it.
  • Posted on: 09/27/2017

    Will customers let Walmart deliver in-fridge?

    Ice box? Pandora's Box? There are liability concerns and associated insurance expenses, there is customer convenience, there is letting strangers (not your trusted janitor) into your house when you are not there. Not sure about this one.

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