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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  • Posted on: 07/28/2016

    Has Nordstrom lost its customer experience edge?

    I think Nordstrom is becoming a victim of its own mass. I think it over-expanded and just has too many doors. The good news is, 20 percent of its sales come from online. The bad news is that store growth is flat. I look at Miami Metro, where Nordstrom has three major stores. It really only needed two. I'm sure this is replicated other places. So it may partly be the customer experience, it may be that some of its customers are aging out, but it's also simply that it just has too many stores.
  • Posted on: 07/22/2016

    Is fast-fashion slowing down?

    I think it's not about the segment itself, it's about the continued presumption that markets are infinite. There are only so many doors, stores and brands that the consumer can actually consume. Right now, there are simply too many.I expect the herd to be winnowed in the coming year and then the segment will bounce back.
  • Posted on: 07/15/2016

    What is Starbucks baking up with its latest investment?

    The magic question is always "can you maintain quality control at scale?" Not just with food, but pretty much with everything we sell.I think this is a great idea and brings Starbucks into a richer market (if possible). Hopefully, they can find a way to manage the quality because if they can, it's a winner.
  • Posted on: 07/07/2016

    Do retail marketers have an appetite for data science?

    It's easy to say we should develop the expertise in-house, but our data tells us that data analysts are hard to find.Let's face it. They can make a lot more money in the financial sector. Why come to retail?
  • Posted on: 07/06/2016

    Will getting rid of list prices help or hurt Amazon?

    I don't think it's going to help or hurt. Amazon has trained people to price check and they will continue to do so. I've caught Amazon with some very high prices lately on relatively high ticket items. It has cost them sales from me.As for the lawsuits, I've been around the retail industry for a very long time now. The lawsuits have been going on for as long as I can remember. "Compare at" prices have been challenged at least since the '80s. And basically, retailers "pay the ticket and go home." I have no idea why this is coming out as some kind of shocking revelation. I think private label was an original driving force behind it, but it is ubiquitous and always has been.
  • Posted on: 07/05/2016

    Are out-of-stocks driving shoppers online?

    Count me as an illustration of this as well. I have three cats ... they like three kinds of cat food and, because I have three, I buy it by the case. I literally begged the pet superstore near me (nameless for now) to please keep them in stock for me, told them the frequency of purchase and the exact flavors. They never were in stock for all three, ever.Finally I gave up and started ordering from Amazon. I have some issues with the way they package the cases (too many come through dented) but overall it comes in two days, no muss, no fuss.Unlike other purchases I make, Amazon was not my first choice at all for this. But ultimately the retailer left me no choice.I did want to point out one thing. I'm not clear that these out-of-stocks are about inventory reduction initiatives per se as they are about turn increase initiatives. These are very different challenges. Ratcheting up turn can drive a retailer to have too much of the wrong stuff and not enough of the right stuff. That means the forecasting system is either ignored or inadequate. Or the retailer is moving too fast.There's nothing wrong with more frequent deliveries. It's the missing deliveries that are the problem.
  • Posted on: 07/01/2016

    Will Kellogg’s cereal café snap, crackle or pop?

    I think they have succeeded in making a bowl of cereal even more expensive than ordering through room service at nearby hotels. #whatweretheythinking?
  • Posted on: 07/01/2016

    Amazon’s Prime Day countdown begins

    I don't know what to say about Prime Day. I, and most everyone I know, thought the offerings were really junky. And I'm not completely sure how the company measured "success." The sales records it broke were, I think, for a time of year when sales are traditionally very low. So it's hard for me to get worked up about it.Still, if the Prime memberships stick, that would be defined as a success by me. But revenue and assortment-wise, I just didn't see it.
  • Posted on: 06/27/2016

    Amazon Dash gets a smart button rival

    Perhaps I am missing something but I think these buttons are the stupidest idea ever. Even someone with short-term memory issues like me can remember to add laundry detergent to their shopping list without aid of a button. Or I can just record it on my phone.Who wants these buttons? Why do they need them? Are they willing to pay for them? Show me some data. Alexa, I can understand. The buttons? Totally lost on me.
  • Posted on: 06/24/2016

    What will happen to Macy’s after Terry Lundgren steps down as CEO?

    Terry Lundgren's legacy will be that he carved several years of success out of a chain that, by all rights, was too big to be successful. He was an early embracer of omnichannel and the emerging Millennial customer.The department store format itself is in trouble. I don't know how anyone can fix that, because it's a structural problem that involves contracts with brand managers, store layouts and more than a hundred years of history.
  • Posted on: 06/22/2016

    Does Publix have an unrealistic share of Florida’s grocery market?

    What a funny point of view. "Unreasonably high market share?"The original retail aphorism "Location, location, location" holds true here (along with other factors). In Miami-Dade and Broward, there is a Publix approximately every 20 blocks. When the heat and humidity are as bad as they are here, and public transportation is as poor as it is, that's an imperative.It's actually a pain in the neck to drive long distances to buy from someone else. And Publix is close enough on price and selection to make it an easy decision to stay close to home. And there are NEVER long lines at any Publix I go to.Safeway will NOT be more successful than Albertsons was.
  • Posted on: 06/20/2016

    Why aren’t retailers closing more stores?

    I think these statements are way too broad. Of course there are too many stores for certain chains. Did anyone really think that Macy's could sustain that number of stores in any economy? Did anyone really believe that Gap had such a huge addressable market?Stores still serve a purpose on the path to purchase, and retailers know it. I do know of some that are taking out five-year leases rather than 10-year, to hedge their bets ... but I think it is just too early to make sweeping statements like this. Shopping can be a social experience, separate from where the sale gets consummated.So I don't think retailers are delaying "the inevitable." I think they're trying to figure it out. Retail's underlying fundamentals are selling the right product at the right price to the right audience. And no market is infinite. What's hurting the business now in general is the challenge of figuring out how to make the store more interesting again.
  • Posted on: 06/13/2016

    How can online returns be minimized?

    Having been involved in the catalog and other direct-to-consumer retail operations for some time, I think retailers will have to face the fact that returns are a part of life.The best ways to manage the worst offenders (who wear it once and then return it, in the case of apparel) is to follow the catalogers' lead: put a tag on it which, if removed, disallows returns.For big ticket items that don't travel well, it's pretty imperative to have a return charge. There's an old story of a catalog furniture retailer which would offer free returns on sofas. The customer would order two, ask the driver to wait, and then pick the one that looked better in the room. The other sofa would be returned. Disaster.For other categories, the only way to really break even on returns is to have a very intelligent returns management systems at the distribution center. Again, none of this is new -- it is what catalogers have been doing for decades.
  • Posted on: 06/09/2016

    Should Walmart open its own dollar stores?

    Dollar stores are going to continue to nip at the edges of Walmart's market basket. That's just the way it is. I don't think the company can manage small format stores or they would have implemented lots of them by now.I don't think Amazon is as big a threat because I think the customer is different.Walmart is just going to have to be satisfied being a $400 billion retailer. I don't see it getting much bigger.
  • Posted on: 06/07/2016

    Is monitoring employee data the right move for retailers?

    You're kidding, right? We don't even monitor to see what the heck they do at work all day, but we want to monitor their fitness habits? Good God, what is this country coming to?

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