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: 01/22/2018

    Amazon Go goes live

    Am I the only one who thinks about shrink? I guess I'll have to see one in action. As of this writing, I can think of no reason to extend it to Whole Foods Market, where lines are not terribly long and personalized service is part of the experience. But perhaps Amazon has found some magic where I can't see it.
  • Posted on: 01/19/2018

    Is personalization the new loyalty?

    I don't think personalization and loyalty are interchangeable at all. "Spend and earn" is one thing, "offer me something I might want to spend money on at all" is quite another. You might get to loyalty through personalization ... maybe ... or you might not get the opportunity to personalize without loyalty. I think retailers really have to be wary of shoppers feeling like their privacy has been invaded.I do think the generic "race to the bottom" is over, but until and unless each retailer has a completely unique offering (unlikely), loyalty will remain an ephemeral, fragile thing.
  • Posted on: 01/17/2018

    CPG brands push retailers to up their tech games

    RSR has seen in our data that grocers are far more open to upping their technology game than they've been in the past. But I don't think they should facilitate brands' projects ... rather they should buy solutions that are applicable to both private label and branded product.If brands want to bring their own technologies into stores, I don't think I'd refuse, but I also would be very careful to maintain independence. It's all about leverage.
  • Posted on: 01/16/2018

    What’s the trick to handling online returns?

    The Kurt Salmon numbers are accurate for apparel (it's like a dressing room!). For other verticals, it's quite a bit lower, which is how we get to the "blended number" of 13%.While it's tempting to want in-store returns, in hopes that customers will overspend on the return, it's probably more profitable to return to DC's, better equipped to handle them, and better assurance that inventory won't be "lost" in the system.A gazillion years ago I wrote the specs for a returns management system for a catalog company, Chadwick's of Boston. That's when I learned just how complicated apparel returns really are. Add onto that the fact that not all stores carry an entire assortment, and it's a prescription for lost inventory. Well, that's what has happened. Inventory confusion.Bottom line: DCs.
  • Posted on: 01/15/2018

    Does a Boxed acquisition make sense for Kroger?

    I'm starting to ask myself, "What business is Kroger in?" Recently it announced it was getting into the private label apparel business, and now it's thinking of selling bulk?Does this potential acquisition make sense? I guess question #1 is "What is Kroger's business strategy?"If it is really "keep up with Amazon, Walmart and others" I think the company is in big trouble. Differentiation is important. Not me-too'ism.
  • Posted on: 01/12/2018

    Surreal to so real – Sam’s closes 63 clubs after Walmart announces pay raise

    First I thought it was no big deal, co-terminus leases and all that. Then I found out that a.) no one in the field was given any advance notice, the stores were just signed "sorry, store closed," and b.) the company actually owns the real estate in at least one of those locations.This move completely undid any good will Walmart might have achieved with its meager base pay increase. There was no reason to do this on that day. None.It's very disappointing. I thought Walmart was headed in a much more community-friendly direction. This is bad business and terribly bad PR.
  • Posted on: 01/11/2018

    Walmart CEO says ‘Happy New Year’ with pay raise for employees

    The fact that a tiny portion of the windfall corporations like Walmart are getting will go to minimum wage employees is meant to make us feel like anything is actually trickling down. Trickle is the right word.Sorry ... this isn't bordering on political, it IS political. It's a PR sham.
  • Posted on: 01/09/2018

    Will consumers wear Alexa-enabled AR glasses?

    There's something fundamentally odd about us talking to our glasses as we walk through the streets. But then, there's something fundamentally odd about our marriages to our phones, too. Who knows? I hope not.
  • Posted on: 01/08/2018

    Should grocers be teaching Americans how to eat?

    I guess it depends what the grocer feels its core value proposition is and the amount of square footage available. Eating healthier and eating specialty items may not always go together.For "natural" (a meaningless word, by the way), and organics, of course it makes sense. For Family Dollar, not so much.
  • Posted on: 01/04/2018

    Have Aldi and Lidl started a grocery price war in the U.S.?

    I do not see a full-scale grocery price war breaking out in the U.S. When I hear the phrase, "Have Aldi and Lidl started a full-scale price war?" I think to myself "Suppose they gave a war and nobody came?"As far as I can tell, Aldi is not exactly knocking the doors off in its new markets and, as you noted, I also haven't heard anything positive about Lidl's results here. If there's a price war in place it would have been started by dollar stores, who have been moving more and more into groceries.I may be a minority of one, but I don't see much impact in the U.S.
  • Posted on: 12/27/2017

    What retail apocalypse?

    Okay, I'm going to ask for some props here. Greg Buzek and I started beating the drum of the "apocalypse" as a false flag back in April. We knew it before, but we were sitting on a stage as a panel at a user group conference and that's when we really started beating the drum.This was ALWAYS clickbait. Always. It goes with the "7.5 million retail jobs lost to automation" and "23 percent of malls closing in three years" clickbait. I think they call it "hogwash" in the Midwestern U.S ... and having read the original "research" on all three stories, I'm quite comfortable calling it the same.What caused the healthy gains? I think retailers bought a bit less, we finally saw an end to the "race to the bottom" (effectively, there's not much lower you can go and stay in business) ... price parity is mostly achieved, and retailers avoided some of the doorbuster insanity of years past. Turns out it made for a better shopping experience anyway.I am really curious to see if the store traffic drop of 1.4 percent on Black Friday weekend was made up for with higher average transaction values. And I know Christmas Eve was a total madhouse.I think stasis is getting achieved. People know what they want online, and they know when they want to go out shopping. Retailers are responding. That's good.
  • Posted on: 12/26/2017

    Is ‘brick mining’ valuable enough to justify physical stores?

    It seems like brick-and-mortar stores do a lot more than that. In fact, I would generally argue the opposite ... it allows customers to "mine" or get to know the products and the brand.I think of Warby Parker for example, which was doing a lovely job disrupting the eyeglass business as a pure-play. But they have opened stores in target neighborhoods so people could find out a.) how good their service really is, b.) how nice their glasses really look on the face and c.) how easy they are to work with.Unfortunately, their glasses don't seem to work as well with progressive lenses, otherwise I would be a customer for life.So I think we have this a bit backwards.
  • Posted on: 12/20/2017

    Are shoppable recipes a bigger opportunity than meal kits?

    I think so. I used a meal kit company for a couple of weeks and I found the use of packaging so excessive that it embarrassed me. I mean, there's no other way to do it, but it's so wasteful.
  • Posted on: 12/19/2017

    Are holiday gifts in the workplace an untapped retail opportunity?

    When I used to work in an office the favorite gift was actually scratch tickets. Hard to mess up, an element of risk and an opportunity for reward. Anything else becomes a candidate for the trash heap.
  • Posted on: 12/19/2017

    Are on-the-road shopping apps helpful or hazardous?

    This is cray-cray.

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