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 has been selected as one of the “Top 50 Retail Technology Influencers” from 2014 -2018. She also writes a blog for Forbes and is frequently quoted in other major media outlets including the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, LA Times, NPR Marketplace and many others. She serves on the advisory board of three consumer goods import companies.

Previous to her years as an analyst, she spent over 20 years as a retail technology executive and CIO at companies including iParty, 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 in particular has been involved with the RetailROI charity since its earliest days.

Other Links from Paula Rosenblum:

RSR Research blog

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  • Posted on: 10/22/2019

    What should retailers do when brands post fake reviews?

    It is very hard to find trusted reviews online anymore. Many sites just exist to get referral fees from Amazon, it seems. I’m getting to a point where I don’t trust them until I see more than 1,000. Then maybe we have a quorum.
  • Posted on: 10/21/2019

    Will Barneys find success setting up shops inside Saks Fifth Avenue?

    I guess the question really is, "What caused Barneys to fail in the first place?" If it was just high rents in its flagship locations and the brand still has a lot of cachet, then sure -- it's a good idea. BUT ... the fact that all other stores are to be closed as well gives me pause. So does HBC actually sourcing the products. I mean, just because they call it "Barneys" doesn't mean it's going to be hip. Authentic Brands doesn't have much to lose, as I read this. They get some proceeds out of the license. Saks -- I'm not sure they get much. They take on all the risk, and I think the brand is tainted. What does Saks have to lose? A lot of working capital on inventory that simply might not sell. It's not a can't-lose situation at all. It's a very Shark Tank-like situation for Authentic, and I don't love it.
  • Posted on: 10/16/2019

    Does Target need to address its associate morale problem?

    Yeah, that was kind of my point. It's not data, it's a headline.
  • Posted on: 10/16/2019

    Does Target need to address its associate morale problem?

    This is the kind of question we like to ask in our store surveys. The magic question is: Has the payroll-to-sales ratio gone up (more payroll), gone down (less payroll) or stayed the same? We didn't ask it this year, but in every prior year, over-performers have been increasing the ratio. That means adding money to the number in aggregate. So no, I think CNN was looking for some eyeball grabber and found it.
  • Posted on: 10/15/2019

    Will customers give Walmart the keys to their homes?

    I can only think of a retiree who IS home but can't carry things. Hence, Vero Beach, snowbird central.
  • Posted on: 10/15/2019

    Will customers give Walmart the keys to their homes?

    No, I don't see it. I didn't see it for Amazon, and I don't see it as a big winner for Walmart. They're going to get skewed results from Vero Beach, which has a lot of snowbird retirees who might appreciate having the whole process done for them. But maybe that's the story behind the story. In my story, Laura broke her hip and is happy to have someone take care of bringing her groceries into the house.
  • Posted on: 10/04/2019

    Should companies have to pay you to use your personal data?

    There is a cryptocurrency company - Shopin - that was built to do just that. The consumer enters information into their version of blockchain database and if the retailer wants to use it for personalization purposes they pay the consumer a token. Obviously that gets converted to the currency of the shopper's choice once received. Yes, our information is our property and our currency. Period.
  • Posted on: 10/02/2019

    Is Walmart’s CEO the right leader for Business Roundtable?

    Doug McMillon has done the almost impossible - I'm starting to root for Walmart. I see a lot of good karma actions coming out of Bentonville -- not the least of which is personal. Previous management fought the city of Miami and its potential neighbors to build a store in an area where it really didn't make sense - when they bought the property it was one thing, by the time Walmart wanted to open there it had turned into an arts and upper middle class neighborhood. In conversations with their management at the time, I could get to no sense of reality beyond "we want it because we want it." Happily, five years since those conversations, Walmart sold the land and actually never even started to build the store. That meant a lot to me. I think the company is trying to do more for its workers as well. And it's innovating - not just relying on its bigness anymore. So yeah, he's a good call for the job.
  • Posted on: 09/27/2019

    Why do IT service outages keep happening at retail?

    All the reasons listed are the symptoms, but the cause is definitely as Art describes - lack of quality control. It's rare that I find a CIO who understands the nuts and bolts of "keeping the lights on" because everyone has become enamored with the need for speed, failing fast, and other ways to race to keep up with the business. My own opinion, as a former CIO, is that the art/skill is gradually falling into the dustbin of history. Yes, CIOs are supposed to understand the business. They are also supposed to understand THEIR business. That includes testing, security monitoring and pro-active activities, and fall-back plans in the event of outages. This is not limited to retail. Remember the implementation of ACA? That was an embarrassment because it missed the bases of IT 101 -- have a single party in charge.
  • Posted on: 09/24/2019

    Two hot trends, personalization and frictionless retailing, are at odds with each other

    Both terms "frictionless" and "personalization" are tossed around like M&Ms with very little reality behind them.
    1. Anything that takes the work away from workers and puts it in the hands of the shopper does NOT remove friction. It adds it. And so if, in fact, as a consumer, you're asking me to bag and scan my own groceries, and maybe even get a random check because you think I might have stolen from you -- guess what, that ADDS friction. Anyone who thinks otherwise is deluded.
    2. Personalization. I suppose I should be pleased that a major DIY chain has gotten "personal" enough to stop sending me ads for snow blowers in Miami. But to me that's simple segmentation. And it's creepier when they send those to me than when they don't. But by the same token, as I finished searching (unsuccessfully, I might add) for new refrigerators both in stores and online I started getting buckets of emails offering me refrigerators on sale - information I had never asked for. Was it personal? Sure. Was it creepy? Totally. I had not given my email address to ONE of the companies that has started spamming me.
    So for me the answer in stores is the same for both. Give me educated, empowered, relatively happy employees. Let them bag and scan my groceries. Let them know me, maybe even by name (they actually do at my local Walgreens!) and make relevant suggestions to me. Retailers seem to continue to hope technology will eliminate the need for employees. Sorry guys, it's not gonna happen. Unless you want all that business to go to Amazon, where there's no friction and a fair amount of kinda-sorta personalization (I wouldn't call it sophisticated, particularly).
  • Posted on: 09/23/2019

    Amazon steps up on climate change, sort of

    As far as I can tell, they have no plans and have made no efforts. Buying their own planes and vans solves nothing. If the pros are running slow, what makes Amazon think it can do better? Either way, it’s packing the boxes.
  • Posted on: 09/23/2019

    Amazon steps up on climate change, sort of

    I have just one word to say to Mr. Bezos -- packaging. Never, ever have a seen a company so environmentally (and financially, to be honest) irresponsible about the way they deliver their products. Amazon Fresh has boatloads of coolant around every frozen item, the company ships air (wasting space and fuel) -- it has actually become an issue for me. Fix. The. Packaging. Of. Your. Deliveries. All the rest is just noise.
  • Posted on: 09/20/2019

    Is AI at the center of the retail technology universe?

    Merchandise planning in other segments is a good target as well. It’s a way better way to get customer information into the plan than creating attributes or alternate hierarchies or, God forbid, a fourth planning dimension.
  • Posted on: 09/20/2019

    Is AI at the center of the retail technology universe?

    AI is definitely the bright shiny object of the week. Where it’s most interesting to me is in forecasting. It can bring in non-transactional data to hone the forecast. Let’s not get too crazy here. A lot of what passes for AI just isn’t.
  • Posted on: 09/19/2019

    Retailers falling short at training frontline workers

    Our data has shown something similar. I think more than 65 percent of existing workers receive less than 30 hours PER YEAR in training. We didn't ask about effectiveness, since we were querying more corporate types. Let's face it. Training and retaining and in-store workforce is a big ask for retailers. The business model for the past 100 years has been a large workforce of mostly part-time, transient people. There's a wastefulness to it - think how many had our first job in retail and went on to become industry leaders in other industries - but it's what drove profits. Retailers don't have a choice anymore. They have to put attention, training and money into their in-store workforce. And the way to get that money is to optimize non-selling functions using technologies. That's one of RSR's mantras. It was true 10 years ago when our partner Steve Rowen started saying that a store manager engaging with a consumer with a smartphone is like bringing a knife to a gun fight, and it's even more true (and frustrating for the in-store employee) today. The store model has to change. And again, that's a really big ask.

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