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: 07/19/2017

    Is Donald Trump the reason Latinos are spending less at retail?

    I don't know. It's no secret that I'm not a fan of our current president, but I have some issues all the way around with this thesis.The biggest issue: It always bugs me when "Hispanics" are discussed as a homogeneous group. They're not. I had a rather passionate argument with the CEO of Nielsen over this topic a few years ago. Living in Miami, it's very easy to see that they are not the same. It's sort of like grouping all Semites into one cluster. You can't do it.Sure, I would not be surprised to see Mexicans avoiding the U.S. Heck, I would avoid it if I were them with all the noise out there. But what does that have to do with Venezuelans, Cubans, Puerto Ricans, etc.? Nothing.So I think I have to say the data is based on an erroneous assumption, and therefore isn't telling me much of anything. And I'll say it again. I am no fan of 45 so there is zero prejudice here.
  • Posted on: 07/18/2017

    Is online fulfillment from stores too complex for e-grocery?

    I'm not sure the problem is solvable. I think I wasn't clear about that. You certainly don't want to turn product any slower ... and by definition, the faster it turns, the more out of whack the perpetual gets. Home delivery has to be a profitable enterprise, and I'm having a hard time visualizing that.
  • Posted on: 07/18/2017

    Is online fulfillment from stores too complex for e-grocery?

    Funny you should ask this question. Because of a knee injury, I had to use Instacart for a couple of months. At first it seemed addictive, but it got really tiresome ... Publix in particular was always missing several items I requested (Whole Foods actually did a far better job). It got to where I had to say no substitutes but I still kept getting them. I've given up on Instacart, and my knee is better ... but this is a real problem and I don't see it going away any time soon.Product just turns too quickly for inventory records to stay accurate.
  • Posted on: 07/11/2017

    Will Prime Day give Amazon an insurmountable advantage online?

    Is anyone making any predictions on how profitable Prime Day will be? Good heavens, has the world entirely forgotten business fundamentals?
  • Posted on: 07/10/2017

    Will consumers ever feel better about sharing their data?

    We are in a difficult situation, with the federal government demanding voter rolls from the states and way too much hype around AI (among many things). This does not make people feel warm and fuzzy about sharing their data.I actually believe that the "pact" of exchanging privacy for relevancy is deteriorating. What shoppers are asking for is almost the impossible -- give me relevancy and leave me alone. But that's what they want.
  • Posted on: 07/07/2017

    Is QVC’s acquisition of HSN more about TV shopping or e-commerce?

    They do.
  • Posted on: 07/07/2017

    Is QVC’s acquisition of HSN more about TV shopping or e-commerce?

    I think it's about both. QVC has done a better job synchronizing e-commerce and TV. The audience is aging out, so consolidating makes all the sense in the world.Good move.
  • Posted on: 07/06/2017

    Have grocers figured out how to successfully do business online?

    I think they've finally figured out that doing business online is part of the cost of doing business and are trying to minimize their losses. It's not an accident that Amazon bought Whole Foods. Stores are the only way to generate profit for grocers, because it's the only way to achieve rapid turns with existing low margin. Perhaps delivery fees can mitigate the cost of home delivery, but it's not a big money maker. I can't see how it ever will be, unless those cars, trucks and drones are flying around really, really fast.
  • Posted on: 06/30/2017

    Is inept forecasting holding back online fulfillment?

    The main hurdle to improving forecasting for online fulfillment is return rates. What do you do when you know 25 percent of the product is coming back and you don't know what state that product is going to be in? Do you buy more? That's a big over-buy. It's a problem, and it's not going away any time soon.As for drop ship, our data tells us that retailers are unwilling even as manufacturers ARE willing. Makes sense, really. No retailer wants to be dis-intermediated or to give out their customers' names and addresses to a frenemy. More than 50 percent of vendors in surveys we have performed tell us they are also selling direct to consumers. That makes them frenemies.This is a really tough problem. I spent a lot of time trying to understand why apparel retailers in particular, who always had a very good handle on their inventory when I was a practitioner, suddenly had very poor visibility into it. The systems didn't get worse, after all. Finally the light dawned and I realized that the combination of direct-to-consumer and allowing customers to return products to the location of their choice (including stores) created a lot of uncertainty around what they really own at any given point in time. I'd love to stroll through some retailers' back rooms and look at the returns from online sales waiting to be processed.I'm not sure how to fix it beyond trying to drive traffic back to stores.
  • Posted on: 06/29/2017

    Can an app know a customer better than a personal shopper?

    RSR partner Steve Rowen found a great site yesterday. It is an AI inspirational poster generator called Inspirobot. It shows really clearly AI's ability to detect nuance. One of the favorite call-outs is a goldfish swimming around with the screen proclaiming "Before Inspiration, Comes the Slaughter." Very inspiring.So the short answer is, no ... a recommendation engine is not equivalent to a personal shopper.
  • Posted on: 06/26/2017

    Will Sears get traction with its new appliance and mattress store concept?

    Appliances and mattresses? Really? Is that like diapers and beer, a counter-intuitive market basket pairing? For years I have wished Sears would get out of the apparel business and focus on appliances, tools, electronics (maybe) and auto. For years, it kept trying to get bigger in apparel, and then it sold off one of its most iconic brands.Likely the most appealing part of the mattress side of the story is the absolutely insane margin available in the category. But beyond that it just doesn't make sense. One would think with Mattress One, Mattress Firm, Target embracing Casper, Macy's long-standing mattress business, etc. that the market would be crowded enough.I would have preferred seeing appliances and accoutrements. But then I'm not a billionaire, so I must be missing something.
  • Posted on: 06/22/2017

    Does Costco need to significantly undercut Amazon’s prices?

    I've always thought that Amazon was a bigger threat to Costco than to other grocers and general merchandise stores. When you buy something like spray cleaner online from Amazon, you get Costco-sized containers, i.e. two or more strapped together, rather than single units.There's no doubt that sooner or later Costco is going to have to synchronize its stores and online offerings but, in the meanwhile, it needs to maintain its image as the low-cost provider.
  • Posted on: 06/21/2017

    Will Amazon Prime Wardrobe change how Americans shop for clothes?

    Call me a curmudgeon, but I just see it as a defensive play with some (obviously) great PR thrown in. We know that return rates for apparel are above 30 percent on average. I've heard rumors (no, I have no real source) that Amazon's apparel return rates are at 35 percent. So why deal with all the credit card processing fees twice? Why not just process the cards once, accept the returns and be done with it?I don't see this as being disruptive or long-term profitable. In the end, apparel may be the next brick-and-mortar buy Amazon makes.Or call me a curmudgeon!
  • Posted on: 06/19/2017

    Why are so many associates being deprived of tech by their employers?

    Our data tells us that cost is always #1 -- the store multiplier effect always dampens in-store investments. Second is the distraction factor. Third is the fact that retailers aren't so willing to train associates in the first place, so why give them more tools that they'll ask questions about?All this MUST change, and I suspect it will, but it's going to be challenging to get there.
  • Posted on: 06/15/2017

    Are consumers ready to use automated purchasing tech on a wide scale?

    Here's the problem ... when companies are changing prices on an item on a regular basis, I don't feel I can trust just pushing a Dash button. I need some kind of confirmation that the price is what I paid last time. Hopefully Alexa and other voice-based systems are capable of answering the question "Is the price the same as I paid last time?" A Dash button is not capable of this and neither is a refrigerator.

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