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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RSR Research blog

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  • Posted on: 06/14/2018

    Reasons you’re afraid of retail sales training and what to do about It

    Wait, are we blaming the store associates for not embracing sales training? Do we even know if retailers offer it? Our data tells us that most existing store associates get an average of 10 hours training PER YEAR. Maybe if it was offered and didn't seem quite like unicorn had entered the building it would be embraced.
  • Posted on: 06/14/2018

    Do retailers need RFID to do BOPIS right?

    BOPIS is a side benefit. If true full coverage RFID could be implemented in stores, the amount of money saved on physical inventories would stun everyone. The amount of time and money spent on actually performing physical inventories twice a year (or once if you can "get away with it") is stunning. I have never understood why this is not talked about more. It has always been about reader prices, not tag prices, and my understanding is that reader prices are starting to come down. Engage the CFO (who owns the PI process) and have him work with you on the ROI. It always boggled my mind how much we spend on preparing for, executing and then reconciling the (typically RGIS done) physical inventories, to get "close." As a side note, I think that the retail method of accounting contributes to inventory inaccuracies, since cost is imputed based on departmental, rather than specific SKU-related information.
  • Posted on: 06/12/2018

    Are chronic online returners only a few bad apples?

    But how do we define "unfair?" Beyond wearing a dress to a party and returning it (yes, that happens), it all seems like fair game. Would we limit the number of items a shopper can take into a fitting room during a visit?
  • Posted on: 06/12/2018

    Are chronic online returners only a few bad apples?

    In a word, no. It doesn't make sense and it's not correct, either. Anyone who buys apparel through any kind of direct-to-consumer channel will tell you that they buy several items and pick the ones they like the best. So free shipping is a proxy for a fitting room. For me, the findings are irrelevant. Sorry to sound so harsh, but high return rates are a fact of DTC life. They can be mitigated a little (with various "fit" technologies), but at the end of the day, it has been so since the catalog era, and will continue to be so.
  • Posted on: 06/08/2018

    Is AI the key to legacy brands’ revitalization?

    The decisions made by Cosabella seem much more to be data-driven ones by a company that was committed to change. It’s hard for me to call this kind of segmentation and presentation AI, but I may be missing a nuance somewhere. Sounds like pretty straightforward data analysis. Most importantly, congratulations for having the determination to change!
  • Posted on: 06/07/2018

    Neiman Marcus results show the latest sign of department store life

    I think we have to wait until they have cycled through an entire year to see if sales increases are sustainable or not. When you're up against soft quarters/years as these companies are, you really should wait a full cycle before declaring victory.
  • Posted on: 06/06/2018

    Costco workers get a raise and the retailer gets more good press

    I do think the industry needs to reevaluate its labor practices for many reasons.
    1. Low unemployment (the phrase “I’m lucky to have any job”) is currently dead;
    2. The need to have helpful and cheerful store employees to help improve the in store experience;
    3. Public recognition that they all just got a huge tax boon and scrutiny around “what are they doing with the money, exactly?”
    This is still a big ask -- changing a model that has kinda sorta worked for almost 100 years. Unfortunately for retailers, it has to happen.
  • Posted on: 06/05/2018

    What will Starbucks do without Howard Schultz?

    My recollection is that Mr. Schultz stepped back once before. Along came the operations geniuses and the coffee and experience went downhill. The coffee machines were too tall and you couldn't see the baristas, the quality was inconsistent and sales were not all that. I am pretty sure that's correct and it's why he got involved in the business again. So the management team will have to resist the urge to make "improvements" just for the sake of cost reductions.
  • Posted on: 05/29/2018

    Publix pulls political funding amid anti-gun protests

    I think it's important to remember Florida's history. It was a red state and has historically been an NRA poster child/example. Times were already changing (Obama did win the state and I'm sure we all recall the dangling chads of 2000), and Parkland tipped the scales over the edge. Publix did the right thing. Too visible. Too much competition. And that's that.
  • Posted on: 05/29/2018

    Publix pulls political funding amid anti-gun protests

    I guess it’s risky if your customers have obvious other choices and if you are in a publicly aware vertical. On the flip side, to my knowledge no one boycotts Koch brothers-owned or Murdoch-owned companies. Nor are they successfully boycotting the “failing New York Times.” And Hobby Lobby and Chick-fil-A haven’t declared themselves bankrupt. Publix was in a somewhat unique situation, as it is otherwise thought of as a “good karma company.” They did the right thing. Each company has to make its own choices.
  • Posted on: 05/25/2018

    Millennials spend like crazy on their ‘fur-babies’

    Well, here I thought I was just an old cat lady. Apparently I'm a closet Millennial. Honestly, these kinds of generalizations are a bit crazy-making, as my friends, who are mostly of a certain age, lavish the same kind of attention on their "kids" (we don't call them fur babies. Just "the kids") as said Millennials. Chewy does an incredible job of creating those kinds of connections. They'll send sympathy cards if a pet passes, will create painted portraits of customers' pets and send them out, unsolicited, will give advice when asked about the best food for finicky and otherwise intestinally-challenged pets. To me, even though they're a virtual company, they do the best job connecting with customers. Another site I became aware of, Dirty Fur Clothing, has photos of dog owners and their dogs on the home page. For sure, honoring the connection and indulging it is a good plan. Allowing dogs in grocery stores and restaurants is not, so much. There's a whole other segment of the population that isn't keen for that. I suppose announcing a place as "pet-friendly" is useful, as long as people can opt in or opt out. Of course, the last thing is to support rescue organizations. Any retailer can do that. And announce it. And that will be a way better karma thing than supporting political candidates. Far less controversial.
  • Posted on: 05/24/2018

    Kroger to become meal kit force with Home Chef deal

    I guess I'm the only one who feels like Kroger is thrashing a bit, trying a little bit of everything to get business up. I can barely remember the entire list of recently announced initiatives, but I do remember the private label apparel and warehouse automation buy. Some make sense, some don't, and I really hope there's a strategy in there somewhere.
  • Posted on: 05/22/2018

    Ellison leaves Penney, further fueling doubts

    This is a tough one ... and ultimately, their problems have not changed in a decade ... not enough cash, a customer that is aging out, and no clear direction forward. People forget that Ron Johnson was originally brought in to resurrect the brand, on what, I believe was at best a Quixotic quest. Ullman then brought them back from the brink of extinction, but really only got them back to where they were when he left the first time. I think regardless, the opportunity to bring Lowe’s back up to prominence will likely be more fun for Ellison and more in line with his core competencies.
  • Posted on: 05/21/2018

    Will greater transparency drive a digital targeting backlash?

    Just because you CAN do something, doesn't mean you SHOULD. It's pretty obvious to consumers how much they are being targeted and tracked. In fact, paranoia reigns ...
  • Posted on: 05/18/2018

    BJ’s Wholesale Club is going back to Wall Street

    Also agreed.

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