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: 11/30/2016

    Will sales promotions be the death of department stores?

    As it turns out, our recent data tells us that retailers are being run BY Generation X, FOR Generation X. So Millennials are turning out to be something like the weather -- everyone talks about them, but there isn't much anyone (besides the fast fashion guys) is doing about them.Go figure.
  • Posted on: 11/23/2016

    Has Best Buy solved the Amazon riddle?

    I want to raise the yellow caution flag around leading with "cost-cutting." I seem to remember that one of Joly's first acts was to take the security guys standing at the front of the store checking receipts and turn them into sales people on the selling floor. And that is the key to the kingdom -- helpful sales associates.Of course price-matching matters. But customer service, intelligent employees and the Geek Squad are key differentiators.I think I've said this in these pages before: I bought a 4K TV from Amazon last year. They gleefully informed me I was entitled to "free enhanced delivery." I was glad because I have a pretty complicated setup. What I got was two high school students who I had to lend a screwdriver and box cutter to, who then assembled the base (I could've done that!), plugged in the TV (yup, could have done that too) and then tried to convince me to keep the packaging (hell no). In the end I had to figure out how to solve for the complexities myself and didn't do the best job of it, really.In retrospect, I would have happily paid Best Buy the extra $4 they were charging for the TV (yes, that's not a typo -- 4 bucks) and a $65 Geek Squad fee to have it done right.To me, that's the Best Buy advantage. And I salute Joly for changing the culture into a far more helpful one.
  • Posted on: 11/22/2016

    Patagonia to donate all Black Friday profits to green groups

    During these terrifying times (sorry ... that's how I see it) I think it's great for corporations to step up and support those who our new government would otherwise starve -- environmental groups.The country is bifurcating in sad and unfortunate ways and many battles loom. I see different corporations taking different sides in those battles. Kudos to Patagonia for taking a side early. I've made a calendar entry to make sure to buy something from them on Friday, and the company is not a usual go-to for me.You may not all agree with me and that's fine. I've just chosen my side, and I'm with them.
  • Posted on: 11/21/2016

    Will table service be a difference-maker for McDonald’s?

    I'm having a hard time figuring out what McDonald's stands for these days. Fast food and orange decor says "in and out," Free Wi-Fi and table service says "stay a while."I don't quite understand how this raises profits in their existing model. It's confusing. I'm not a patron and I can't imagine table service would make me one ... but who are they trying to steal business from? I'm honestly at a loss.
  • Posted on: 11/18/2016

    Will hundreds of small stores produce big results for Target?

    If Target can get the localized assortments right, I think they'll have a home run. It's early to call big box retailing "dead," but I don't think it's going to have a happy Millennial run.
  • Posted on: 11/11/2016

    Will Donald Trump’s presidency be good for retailers?

  • Posted on: 11/01/2016

    Will Patagonia win Election Day by sending its workers to the polls?

    There are times when it's easy to see the difference between "good karma" companies and "not-so-good karma" companies. Patagonia will win with its target market, because its target market is filled with people trying to do good.Will it catch on? As much as REI closing on Black Friday is catching on.I don't think it's a PR move. I think it's part of the company's ethos. And while I'm not a hiker or a camper, I applaud it.
  • Posted on: 10/28/2016

    Is Black Friday doomed to extinction?

    The basis of Black Friday is long since dead -- the kick-off to the holiday season on a four-day weekend. E-commerce wounded the goose that laid that golden egg, but the year that retailers opened on Thanksgiving they killed it once and for all.Now every day is a sales day. You know, I don't say this too often but I'm going to say this now -- every single retail watcher did the same -- "We told you so." We watched the industry commit Hari-kiri.
  • Posted on: 10/27/2016

    Does talking to a human still matter?

    Well, I'm sure it will be as delightful an experience as getting customer support from people who don't quite understand the situation halfway around the world (this is not meant to be a xenophobic comment ... just a statement born of frustration).No, I do not believe machines can replace knowledgeable humans. I sure hope not.
  • Posted on: 10/25/2016

    It’s the Millennials’ world

    I think Millennials will assume domination over certain parts of the marketing landscape. While they are coming into their high discretionary spending years (watch a Rocket Mortgage commercial or the car commercial that trumpets the buying experience "didn't suck"), I think there are two other factors that we must consider:
    1. The luxury market is dominated more by Generation X, who by most accounts is the generation running things now. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the U.S. has been run by a Gen Xer for the past eight years. As Boomer CEOs retire, it's Gen Xers that are taking their place in the workplace.
    2. We spend a lot of time talking about marketing to Millennials, but not nearly enough time talking about what they expect to see in the workplace. As the retail enterprise becomes dominated at the top by Generation X and in the middle by Millennials, should the technologies reflect the values and desires they have, rather than Boomers?
      1. Boomers may demand to stave off Father Time, but at the end of the day, time wins. I feel it in my bones.And Jamie, you and I are not "typical" Boomers. Most of my friends barely know how to use their phones, and they are the reason big box retailing became so ubiquitous. Boomers look for breadth for convenience, Millennials look for depth associated with their lifestyle needs. It's a big difference. *sigh* -- Damn you, Father Time!
  • Posted on: 10/24/2016

    Will sky-high APR rates put an end to retailer credit cards?

    I am one of the people who established their credit with a store credit card. I think it was a Filene's card (so dating myself!). As a young professional, I was told these cards were easiest to get, and paying them off regularly would help me create a credit score. I did and it did.The only other time I bought or used a store credit card was with Macy's. I was ostensibly getting a deal, but by the time all the charges associated with the card were done I had cost myself more than I saved.I don't think I'd do away with the cards ... if nothing else, it helps pull in the younger shopper. Other credit cards have sky-high interest rates as well. Eventually we recognize that it's better to just pay them off monthly than try to manage the charges.Truth be told, these are just co-branded cards anyway. I say keep them, as I don't see any harm in having them out there.
  • Posted on: 10/21/2016

    Macy’s to RFID tag everything

    I am very curious to see what those "numerous things" are. If they are able to read every item in the store without associates walking around with hand-held guns, that becomes a stunning opportunity to cut costs while improving inventory accuracy consistently. Goodbye physical inventory processing!
  • Posted on: 10/19/2016

    Will Aldi and Lidl replicate U.K. success in the U.S.?

    I just don't see it. As Ross points out, Dollar stores already serve a lot of the purpose Aldi and Lidl serve in the UK.Aldi opened a store near me, quite literally carving out a space in a Kmart parking lot, so it's hard to call that "appealing to the middle class." Technically speaking, they did open in a middle class area, but they found the lowest-end part of that town. I did shop there once and found the assortment chaotic and unappealing. I had no interest in returning and can't even bring myself to stop in.I know they will take credit cards now. At the time I went, they were still "debit cards" only and charged 6 cents per bag if you didn't bring your own. The cashiers sat in comfy chairs while the shoppers did all the work. It was really weird to me.I see no threat whatsoever in any market that is already well served.
  • Posted on: 10/14/2016

    Target to test vertical farms in stores

    This is an old article ... I believe there are more in Amsterdam now.
  • Posted on: 10/14/2016

    Target to test vertical farms in stores

    I like the idea. Even better, if they structurally could support it, would be growing this stuff on the roofs of the stores. I've seen this done in other countries and it helps lower HVAC costs while adding oxygen to the air.

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