PROFILE

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 was selected as one of the “Top 50 Retail Influencers” in 2013 and writes a weekly blog for Forbes. Previous to her 12 years as an analyst, she spent over 20 years as a retail technology executive and CIO at companies including 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 has been involved with the RetailROI charity since its earliest days.

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RSR Research blog

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  • Posted on: 09/23/2016

    Will retailers be treated to a record-setting Halloween?

    I was in the party supply business when Halloween really started taking off.The thing about Halloween is it has no family "charge" around it like Thanksgiving and no gift giving to drain the wallet, so for about $100 you can have a fabulous time.I will say that Monday is not the very best day for Halloween to fall, but it's not the worst either. The best day is Friday or Saturday, but Monday will work for the previous weekend's adult costume parties.By the way, if you ever want to have your mind blown, go into a Party City on the day before Halloween. The chaos is beyond description.
  • Posted on: 09/22/2016

    What’s behind Zara’s crazy sales gains?

    Aren't they up against soft comp sales last year? They were opening a lot of stores and announced early this year that they were cutting back on store openings.
  • Posted on: 09/21/2016

    Is consumer demand really that unpredictable?

    Well, omnichannel makes things problematic if forecast and planning systems are driven off of where demand was fulfilled, rather than where it is generated. This seems hard for retailers to grasp for reasons I don't quite understand.Still, I wouldn't go so far as to say that retailers are bad at estimating demand. Yes, I know I am part of RSR, but I have a slightly different take. Our earlier studies showed that Retail Winners were actually rather good at it and it was only under-performers who had a hard time adjusting to shifts and changes.The world of omnichannel has most certainly changed that and the data reflects it. It is not easy to predict, at this point, where a sale will be consummated. Odds are that with digital sales still increasing by double digit percents, online sales are under-estimated and with continued falling traffic in stores, store-based sales are over-estimated.And let's not forget the additional chaotic influence of endless promotions.So there are both exogenous and endogenous factors driving bad forecasts. At least that's my view.
  • Posted on: 09/15/2016

    When will AR and VR become “realities” at retail?

    Ultimately VR and AR will change the shopping experience as PART OF the reinvention of both the store and overall retail experience. But it's going to take time.Retailers don't have buckets of money to spend on technologies that have "maybe" ROI ... they have been too busy trying to finish the "must have" ROI projects associated with omnichannel. But eventually, it's a possibility.
  • Posted on: 09/09/2016

    Will Apple bring Macy’s a merry Christmas?

    I'm not a fan of store-within-a-store as a solution to department store woes. Plus, in all likelihood there's an Apple (store) in the same vicinity as most Macy's.Not a great category, not the right product (For Bloomingdales, maybe, Macy's, not so much) and, in my own opinion, not the right direction.I'd so much rather see lifestyle affinities placed adjacent to each other in department stores. But that's an even more complicated solution.
  • Posted on: 09/08/2016

    Could Amazon’s physical stores fuel a backlash?

    Yeah, there's an issue here for sure. Amazon has to be careful not to become the next Walmart (and I don't think the country is ready for another one, to be honest).It is absolutely fair game for independents to promote negative repercussions.Couple this with Amazon's subtle price increases online and you will find an erosion of trust. Amazon has always been my go-to source for everything. But over the past six months, they have come in more than 25 percent higher than other sellers on everything from skin creams to sneakers.Hubris is always a bad thing.
  • Posted on: 09/06/2016

    Will new retail associate roles drive Apple’s sales even higher?

    Honestly, the last time I brought in a faulty iPad to an Apple store I had to persuade the "Genius" that it really was bad hardware, rather than software. The guy was so arrogant that we took an extra half hour re-loading the machine, letting it sit. I was just about to leave, dejected, when the machine started its weird behavior with a naked operating system. At this point, given the crowds and overall chaos of the Apple store, I'd just as soon buy from somewhere else.
  • Posted on: 09/06/2016

    Will new retail associate roles drive Apple’s sales even higher?

    Regardless of what's behind it, I think the secret to Apple's success is not its Geniuses, it's the products. And in the absence of new and exciting products, improving service levels is probably an okay idea but ... Apple will soar when it creates innovative products again.
  • Posted on: 09/02/2016

    Walmart cuts in-store back-office jobs

    I've already received emails from Walmart activist groups. The drumbeat will continue, but I'm not sure Walmart can be disliked more than it already is, honestly (sorry Tom Redd, that's just the truth of it).What motivated the move? Maybe they created some new accounting procedures that made the positions redundant. They definitely needed to allocate more workers onto the floor, that's for sure.Overall, I know Walmart has tried very hard to be more accessible and "friendly." This wasn't the smartest move. They would have been better off simply reallocating the workers, much like Hubert Joly re-allocated at-the-door security personnel to customer-facing positions at Best Buy.
  • Posted on: 08/31/2016

    Is good karma the newest customer reward?

    "Hippie-dippy hogwash." That's a good one, Adam.One trait that has been pretty well documented among the Millennial generation, along with their interest in experiences over things, is their interest in doing good. TOMS shoes, Warby-Parker and others offer the option to give a pair free to a needy person for every pair you buy.Translating that to "charity begins at home, we'll give money to the person of your choice" is way cool as well.The real lesson here is that good karma is good business. But then, you've just bumped into a certified old hippie who hopes that our legacy is a little bit broader than tie-dye t-shirts and the best music ever heard. :)
  • Posted on: 08/30/2016

    J.Crew to sell inside Nordstrom

    If Nordstrom thinks J.Crew has a similar customer, I say okay. I wouldn't think so, but I suppose it's better than creating Nordstrom's own private label for younger customers.Great deal for J.Crew, though. The investment is inventory ... that's not so hard.
  • Posted on: 08/29/2016

    Target holds first storewide sale

    Clearly the object of the game is to drive traffic and hope that when shoppers see the store, they want to come back for more.The problem is that Target's biggest losses were in grocery -- and I don't think a storewide sale is going to help in that regard. In fact, since grocery is supposed to be a traffic driver all by itself, it's a double head-scratcher.I do think the core issue is much more around the chain's focus on grocery in general than any one shopping day. I don't think it can differentiate on food. It wasn't what made the company successful and I don't believe it's going to be a major driver going forward.If I got a vote (and I don't!) I'd suggest shrinking the space dedicated to grocery and electronics and increasing the space for home and apparel. Those are things Target is good at. If it waits too long to do so, online pure-plays like Wayfair are going to take its place as a leader.
  • Posted on: 08/26/2016

    Are wearables on the way out?

    I think we have to separate wearable technology in general from the specifics of the Apple Watch and Fitbit-type devices.I'm not sure why anyone thought there would be a huge market for the Apple Watch. It just doesn't do enough. And the Fitbit has its advocates, but the market is not in younger folks, it's in older ones. So, yes, this market may well be rendered interesting mostly to older people.But it's early. We're defining wearables very narrowly. What about a wearable projection screen (for example)? No other screen needed. Or a projected keyboard (save the thumbs!)? The ability to make these types of devices functional is partly based on Moore's Law and partly based on finding better battery life or power sources.I'm not giving up on wearables, but I do reject their current definition.
  • Posted on: 08/25/2016

    Can Best Buy build momentum with new services and IoT?

    I think IoT gives Best Buy a great opportunity to shine. The company has set the table with amped-up customer service in stores and sharp prices online. In-home services will be a great differentiator.I think it's a win.
  • Posted on: 08/22/2016

    Will Amazon drive-up grocery stores disrupt food retailing?

    I thought that grocery delivery (and curbside pickup) had a definite market ... just a profitability problem. Now, I'm not so sure.I mean for paper towels and laundry detergent, sure ... delivery works great. But there's something that doesn't feel right about having someone else pick out your produce. Plus, those impulse buys actually add some value to customers.So maybe Amazon will try it, but I'm not sure it will be any more successful than Target was with curbside delivery.

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