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: 05/25/2017

    Is a self-service model Macy’s ticket to success?

    This is almost embarrassing. When you see how efficiently a Nike store can use technology to provide genuine customer service, the notion of self-service in Macy's is yet another prescription for failure.Why would you schlep to Macy's to self-serve when you could do the same, for less money and hassle, at a DSW or Famous Footwear?Bad move.
  • Posted on: 05/19/2017

    Is Dick’s Sporting Goods smart to wait on more retail failures before opening new stores?

    I'm surprised they just didn't do what they needed to do expansion-wise and put clauses in the leases tied to current average rents. In other words, create annual or every-other-year reviews.One thing is for sure -- the retailer is holding the power right now, especially in strip centers. I know one of Dick's finance executives really well. I know he would have thought about doing that. Of course retail is overbuilt. Of course lease prices are going to come down. But everything is a negotiation. I think there's something else at play here.
  • Posted on: 05/17/2017

    Why is Walmart so concerned about Aldi and Lidl?

    God, I found the Aldi shopping experience completely awful. I must have a bad one near me.
  • Posted on: 05/17/2017

    Why is Walmart so concerned about Aldi and Lidl?

    I can't figure out why they're worried about Aldi. I have been unimpressed with that chain. I have not seen a Lidl yet. All I can figure is that they're worried about yet another type of retailer nibbling at the edges of their market basket, much like dollar stores have.It's worth mentioning that the dollar store format isn't quite as popular in the U.K. I'm not sure it even exists. So the grocery market was riper for disruption than the U.S. market is.I just don't get it and look forward to what others have to say.
  • Posted on: 05/16/2017

    Are digital CX initiatives being lost on Baby Boomers?

    Mark Ryski has it exactly right. Just because more Millennials than Baby Boomers are aware of digital technologies doesn't mean they use them. It may be that Millennials have also experimented with them and found them lacking.
  • Posted on: 05/12/2017

    Will Unilever’s investment in an organic meal kit maker pay off?

    I don't think they're here to stay. A friend of mine is a chef for Green Chef, so I decided to give it a try. It might work okay if you don't have particular dietary issues, but I'm pretty much a vegetarian, which translated into pasta, pasta and more pasta. And spicy pasta at that.That's okay ... I'm idiosyncratic in that way. The bigger issue I had was how wasteful it was in the packaging department. Two tablespoons of pesto -- a plastic jar. A packet of spices -- a plastic jar. One carrot, wrapped in more packaging.I'm not a green fanatic particularly, but even I could not deny the wastefulness of it all. I think Millennials will feel the same. And I discovered I can buy food via Instacart from Whole Foods and do just as well.I think it's a fad.
  • Posted on: 05/11/2017

    What’s the ‘STORY’ with’s grocery store?

    Funny, isn't it? That for all the talk about "the store is dead" pure-plays still want to dabble in them?This is another extension of Walmart reaching out to a new market, to new customers via a different format with a different name. It's also a lot cheaper and has a better ROI than painting public buses purple (yes, they did that in NYC).I think it's a great idea.
  • Posted on: 05/10/2017

    Is facial recognition a viable solution for reducing shoplifting?

    I think it's worse than in-store marketing. It's a form of profiling that is pretty much illegal. Stores had better say something, although how they would explain it is a bit beyond me. "We're checking your face and if you look suspicious, we're going to follow you ... but there's good news! If you pass the test, we'll give you a special promotion."Sorry ... it's a bridge too far all the way around.
  • Posted on: 05/09/2017

    Will next day delivery make Target an omnichannel force?

    I wish Target would return to its core competency -- cheap chic -- but they seem pretty married to food and general merchandise items. I worry that it's a hyper-competitive market and winning will prove challenging.So rather than look at where it's "behind" the competition, I'd like to see it differentiate itself from the competition.
  • Posted on: 05/08/2017

    Can Walmart dash past Amazon with its own product replenishment system?

    What could go wrong? I don't like the Dash buttons (I find them vaguely insulting, actually -- even I can remember from the laundry room to my computer that I need some laundry detergent) and I don't like the idea of auto-replenishment either.What if I want to change brands? Try something different? Check the current price?I don't know ... maybe I'm just out of the demographic that thinks this is great. I am happy with various forms of subscription services I can use online and I can adjust them as needed. The rest seems like tech for tech's sake and a bright shiny object rather than anything particularly useful.
  • Posted on: 05/05/2017

    Will redirecting its focus from stores help Staples’ top and bottom lines?

    You know, to me this is more of a return to the company's roots. Back when I lived in Boston (in the 1990s) they were building stores like crazy and the stores were almost always empty, even though comps and revenue were strong. Then I found out they'd attribute their catalog sales (this was pre-web) to the closest local stores.So I suspect B2B has always been their strong suit, and their stores were never really their real center. Now they are obviously competing with warehouse stores like BJ's (and everyone else), but this is their best bet. Direct sales.
  • Posted on: 05/04/2017

    How can companies avoid the seven deadly sins of retail laggards?

    I think the root cause of the problem is actually the daunting prospect of turning around a mammoth steamship. There are so many enormous retailers. They say "this is the way we've always done it" because it's the only way they know HOW to do it.Trade-offs are made when companies get very large. Those trade-offs include departmentalizing/silo-ing their enterprises, focusing on procedure rather than innovation or creativity (United Airlines comes to mind) and physical separation between executives and teams.So to me the real question is, "How does a top-tier retailer foster an environment of change and innovation?" It's not so easy. It's easy to say what's wrong -- it's just not so easy to fix it.
  • Posted on: 05/03/2017

    Should one rough quarter have Publix’s management concerned?

    I'm going to say some radical things. I think Publix has lost more than a step over the past few years. Their out-of-stock situation is very challenging for a shopper and they've re-designed my local store three times in the past five years, with what I can only call inadequate signage. One of the redesigns seemed primarily intended to reduce inventory by about 15 percent (much wider aisles ... means fewer aisles).I think they have not been careful enough and it's making them vulnerable. I still find it hard to believe that Aldi is taking their share, but I know a lot of people like that store. I don't.I think Publix has to get back to basics.PS: I live in Miami, so this is not a "far-flung" issue. It's a real problem.
  • Posted on: 05/01/2017

    Is omnichannel a retail margin crusher?

    I think we're asking the wrong question here. The better question would be, "Will omnichannel always be too expensive?" And secondarily, "What can we do to make it more profitable?"There's no doubt that there is a lot of profit leakage through omnichannel fulfillment today. But that's because for most retailers a.) the technology used to solve the problem is old and woefully inadequate and b.) because retailers are inputting where fulfillment occurred, rather than where demand was generated into their merchandise planning systems, it becomes a self-perpetuating problem.Retailers would be insane to stop any omnichannel activities. That's the equivalent of yanking a paying passenger off of a plane because it's cheaper to fly your crew in that seat.What they've got to do, sadly for investors, is ratchet up their IT investments and update their processes to make the whole thing more efficient. It's a complicated problem, but it can be unwound in very clear ways.
  • 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.

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