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

  • Posted on: 04/27/2017

    Is Walmart’s Store No. 8 breaking boundaries or bonds with its core customers?

    Keeping the original brand names is quite different from trying to "dress up" existing Walmart stores. That plan was wrong for a variety of reasons.But ... Walmart has indeed tapped out its addressable market and, if it is to grow, it must find a way to reach other demographics -- people who would never be caught in a Walmart store.I, personally, think it's a fine idea to do what they're doing. I don't necessarily think of Walmart as an innovator of anything beyond operational efficiencies. These new brands are designed to "sneak into" other markets, and I applaud it.
  • Posted on: 04/26/2017

    Can parking lots save the mall?

    Yes, they should. The more local, the better. Malls are the epitome of a "sea of sameness." You can't tell if you're in Dallas or Boston when you stroll through one. If the stores are going to be basically the same, then the environment has to feel local. Someone told me yesterday that an entire wing of the Aventura Mall is going to have stages, food and events put on by local schools. It still won't get me through the traffic, but I'm sure a lot of others will go there!
  • Posted on: 04/25/2017

    Would Albertsons and Whole Foods make a good match?

    What a terrible idea! Whole Foods needs to re-invest in its value and quality story, not drop down into the world of commodities. That might bring shorter-term profits, but long-term would prove disastrous.Just say no.
  • Posted on: 04/21/2017

    How will Walmart’s price cutting affect Kroger and other rivals?

    Just what we need. Another race to the bottom. I think rivals have learned to live with Walmart for the most part. Those who didn't are long gone.A prolonged price battle will be, quite simply, disastrous for all concerned. Walmart isn't Amazon. Its investors will not tolerate runs of losing quarters. And speaking of Amazon, that IS a company whose investors will tolerate long runs of losing quarters. And then there are dollar stores, who have been nipping at the edges of Walmart's basket for years, and the soon-to-come Lidl and expanded Aldi. So who's going to win? Ultimately, not Walmart.Bad idea, old thinking.
  • Posted on: 04/20/2017

    Has CVS crafted a promising new drugstore shopping journey?

    The short answer? The employees sure aren't capable of helping them, so self-serving makes sense. Also, I don't think people are keen to share their personal health situation with floor personnel.We've determined that one of the keys to a high-volume, low-touch environment like a chain drugstore (excluding the prescription area, obviously) is excellent signage.So yes, I think they are on the right track.Unlike Dick, I'm not a fan of CVS, but that's more a pharmacy issue than it is a body-of-the-store issue. To me it's the United Airlines of chain drugstores.
  • Posted on: 04/19/2017

    Will help PetSmart gobble up the online pet market?

    I'm a little upset over this, since Chewy has become my favorite pet supply retailer (WAY better than Amazon, packaging-wise). If PetSmart doesn't jigger with the formula, life will be grand. If they decide they have clever ways to save money, I'll be depressed and Chewy will lose its edge. No one comes close to the way they package trays of wet pet food. No one.
  • Posted on: 04/17/2017

    Are outlet malls an outlier?

    Outlet malls are not immune, but the outlet store itself can be a distraction to the company. As was noted above, retailers do make their own product for outlet stores. It's not just (or even mostly) for overstock. That becomes its own fixation and sometimes its own organization.I also don't think it's correct that outlet malls "don't have a Macy's or other department stores" -- they don't have big anchor stores, but down here in Sawgrass everyone and their mother has representation in the mall.They're a mixed blessing for the retailer and not always such a great bargain for consumers.
  • Posted on: 04/13/2017

    Are retail CEOs ready to ‘disagree and commit’ like Jeff Bezos?

    Interesting question. In the case of a pure merchant who thinks he has his finger on the pulse of customer taste, I agree.But there are other bad examples for operators, and the one that mostly comes to mind is Ron Johnson at J.C. Penney. By most accounts, he ignored data and went with his gut. That led the company down an awful path.I'm used to "my way or the highway" guys, which is the other way of saying "disagree and commit." Sometimes they're successful. Sometimes they're not.Bezos did something brilliant. But he gets a ridiculous pass from his investors and he owns a disproportionate share of his company, so someone like Carl Icahn isn't going to come along and say "The company should be broken up into its component parts for the good of the shareholders."But do I think anyone else in the real world should follow the Bezos doctrine? Beyond the notion of getting faster (but WITH, not without information), my answer is an emphatic no.
  • Posted on: 04/11/2017

    Are ‘Employee of the Month’ programs worth it?

    I've never been a fan. The process is rarely "clean" and tends to be a bit political. Choices can be controversial. Perhaps if employees themselves did the voting it'd at least be more fun. Equally inaccurate, but more fun. I'll bet there are ways to do it in an interactive fashion now, using mobile phones to tally votes.And anyone who really believes the trophy is more important than the cash is dreaming. Just my opinion ...
  • Posted on: 04/10/2017

    Should the same-store sales metric be retired?

    We try to just use comparable sales now -- in other words, online plus YOY store sales. If both channels are more than a year old, why not merge them? The store has bigger problems and more than performance metrics need to be re-imagined. I think traffic and dwell time might be the best. Maybe.
  • Posted on: 04/05/2017

    BrainTrust throwdown: Is it inevitable that tech companies will dominate retail?

    Gosh, everyone on both sides seem to forget the "X factor" (beyond Ryan's passing mention) -- the products being sold and the skill of the merchant in selecting and/or designing the things consumers want to buy.Of course technology is a tool. It helps us determine "how much," "where" and in the case of apparel "which sizes and colors?" But retailers must never forget that commodities are great for -- commodities.So many specialty retailers are having trouble now because they've lost their merchandising touch. That's not a technology issue.Now, having said that, the store itself is an entirely different story. There are only so many ways we can say, beg, plead and scream that the store is desperately in need of reinvention to stay relevant in the digital age. It's just true. And all our data tells us retailers are moving too slowly.But stores without "cool stuff" or "great services" are boxes that can easily be replaced by Amazon or some other commodity seller.
  • Posted on: 04/04/2017

    Will Jenna Lyons’ departure help or hinder J.Crew’s turnaround efforts?

    This is so true and is true of too many apparel retailers. This is truly becoming a crisis (such as it is).
  • Posted on: 04/04/2017

    Will Jenna Lyons’ departure help or hinder J.Crew’s turnaround efforts?

    Merchants lose their touch, the shopper's tastes change and then there is fast fashion. All those contribute to the decline of chains like J.Crew. Then there's the final question: how large is the chain supposed to be? What's the true size of its target market?It strikes me that J.Crew may have over-expanded much like Gap. But I think a change in head designer is probably its best chance to freshen up its look for a new audience. Then they'll have to decide how many doors the chain really needs. That might be the hardest of all.
  • Posted on: 04/03/2017

    Should retailers take a public stance on social issues?

    Definitely they should take a stand. Trade association positions are fairly predictable. Apple, Walmart and GE stances against some of the President's policies are really important to know and not nearly as predictable.So I guess I'm in the Boomer 25 percent -- but it does help us decide who we are happier to give our money to.It cuts both ways but I'm very, very good with it.
  • Posted on: 03/31/2017

    Why is Amazon trying to convince CPG giants to go consumer direct?

    I think it's mostly a Marketplace play. If CPG brand manufacturers are selling direct rather than building their own websites, Amazon probably believes they'll sell through them. Marketplace is the most profitable part of Amazon's retail operations, so it would be a great win for them. They could also return to a hosting model, where they host the e-commerce sites for them. That drives business to their other very profitable business, AWS.

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