Jeff Roster

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

Jeffrey Roster
Research VP
12 years at Gartner
15 years IT industry

Jeffrey Roster is a research vice president at Gartner as part of the Industry Market Strategies Worldwide unit covering the retail and wholesale industries. In this capacity, Mr. Roster consults on market strategies, competitive assessment of the IT services landscape, technology trends and the direction of IT spending to provide market research for IT vendors. Read Full Bio

Gartner/RIS News Retail Tech survey Now in the Field

by Jeff Roster  |  January 26, 2010  |  Comments Off

This really is a tremendous study with a 20 year history of excellence.  If you’re a retailer and have seen the survey link in your email box please, please, please take the 20 minutes to complete the study.  Your insights and options are valuable and help shape my thoughts for this year.  If you haven’t seen the link send me a note via and I’d be happy to direct you to the link.

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It’s That Time Again-Gartner/RIS News Tech Study 2010 – Any Questions We Should Be Asking?

by Jeff Roster  |  December 14, 2009  |  Comments Off

I find this project to be the highlight of my year for a couple of reasons:

1. Working with Joe Skorupa and the RIS News team is a real pleasure.  They are a terrific group of professionals and all really love this industry. 

2. There’s not an event I go to where I don’t meet a respondent to this survey.  I am truly honored by the level of support retailers show to this project.

So as we edit the survey are there any questions or topics that you’d like to see us survey?  If so either post a comment or send me an email at

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Category: Retail Industry Events Retail Observations Retail Retail IT Marketing Retail Spending     Tags: , , , ,

My Activity Schedule for NRF 2010

by Jeff Roster  |  December 13, 2009  |  Comments Off

My schedule for NRF is filling up quite nicely.  At this point all my day slots have been spoken for.  But my long standing habit is to attend public or semipublic events in the evenings instead of attending private dinners.  So if you happen to be at any of the below events come by and say hi. I will try and keep this updated as I commit to new events. By the way if you don’t know where any of the events are please don’t ask me.  I’m assuming everyone that is invited has all the information.  The schedule is subject to change but will try and keep to it as best as I can.   Save travels and see ya in New York!


9:30am – 3:30pm   Retail ROI event.  I’ll be on a panel in the afternoon


4-5pm           RIS News event

5-6:30PM    NRF Opening Night Reception

9-11pm        Retail Insiders event


5-6:30pm   IBM event

7-9pm         Private event


9-11pm       Oracle Mixer

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Category: Retail Industry Events Retail Observations Retail Retail IT Marketing     Tags: ,

Black Friday/CyberMonday Reflections

by Jeff Roster  |  November 30, 2009  |  1 Comment

In all the noise surrounding these to events the one that caused me to stop in my tracks and think for a minute was the below tweet from Nicole Maestri of Reuters:

With all these Thanksgiving day and pre-Thanksgiving sales, I wonder how much longer Black Friday will actually mean anything?

She asks a very provocative question? Absolutely is my answer. Here’s why:

Consumers embrace it- Despite all the machinations to the contrary consumers respond to Black Friday.  My visits to various malls at 0 dark 30 Friday saw lines forming outside doors.  News feeds from around the country illustrate that was not just a Silicon Valley phenomena

Reminder- Serves as an anchor in the calendar -There is no question that retailers have made concerted efforts to draw the Black Friday frenzy into early November.  Perhaps the two best examples are Sears with their “Black Friday Now”  ad campaign that kicked off Halloween weekend and BestBuy posting all their circulars through Christmas on their website thereby giving people confidence in when the best deals are to be had.  But the key here is the pivotpoint is still Black Friday.  That serves as the launching point.  It’s a dramatic reminder for consumes to get about the important business of holiday shopping.  That is  =not going to change for the foreseeable future.

Publicity, publicity, publicity- You’d be hard pressed for find a news outlet that didn’t have a reporters covering Black Friday activities.  There is clearly huge interest in the idea.  I monitored various news feeds where retail shopping stories dominated the day. Local radio stations provided traffic updates and I would venture to say every single news station had a reporter doing a standup at a mall with harried shoppers in the background.  Retailers will always capitalize on the free exposure.

Not your fathers Black Friday -I’m comfortable that Black Friday and probably Cyber Monday are here to stay for the foreseeable future.  But what is changing dramatically is how retailers utilize the day.  I believe this year saw the emergence of retailers use of social media to drive marketing strategies.  Many of the examples were interesting, innovative and fresh.  But next year social media will not sneak up on anybody, including the consumers.  Next years campaigns will try and draw the consumer into a tighter dynamic with the retailer.  Black Friday will serve to focus these efforts. 

See ya next year at 4:30am!

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Category: Mobile Commerce Retail Industry Events Retail Observations Retail Spending     Tags: , , ,

Retail Story at Oracle OpenWorld

by Jeff Roster  |  October 8, 2009  |  Comments Off

Next week I will be attending the first two days of Oracle OpenWord. Most of my two days will be spend at the Palace Hotel where the retail sessions are. So if you plan on being at OOW and at any of the sessions or events listed below please feel free to come by and say hi.

Monday Oct 12

10-11        Client Meetings
11-12:30   International Expansion Strategies
1-3:30       Retail General Session
4-5:30       Crisis to Opportunity
7-10          Retail Reception

Tuesday Oct 13
7-8:30      Breakfast Meeting 
9-11         Client Meetings
11-12:30  Customer Centric Retail Strategies
1-2          Client Meetings
2:30-4      Client Meetings
Please feel free to pass along any good retail stories I should look into. My Twitter ID is JeffPR

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Category: Retail Industry Events     Tags: , ,

NRF’s View of Holiday 2009…and Mine

by Jeff Roster  |  October 7, 2009  |  Comments Off

Today the NRF released the below forecast for Holiday 2009

2009 holiday forecast, projecting holiday retail industry sales to decline one percent this year to $437.6 billion.* While this number falls significantly below the ten-year average of 3.39 percent holiday season growth, the decline is not expected to be as dramatic as last year’s 3.4 percent drop in holiday retail sales nor as severe as the 3.0 percent decline in annual retail industry sales expected for all of 2009.**

I had the chance to sit in on the NRF’s press and analyst’s briefing.  To say the tone was somber would be an understatement.  The positive points in the economic environment the NRF see’s include:

  • The economy is beginning to recover but not out of the woods yet.
  • Consumer confidence is stabilizing but we have a long way to go
  • Stabilizing stock market-
  • Consumer savings rates are increasing

I don’t disagree with any of those points.  However my major concern is unemployment.  It’s hard for me to see a scenario where consumer confidence improves dramatically until the unemployment rate gets down in the 6% range.  Why is this important?  A worried consumer is a thrifty consumer.  I would venture to say there are few if any consumers that don’t have a family member or close friend that has not lost their job in the last year.  That tension, in and of itself, will hold down spending.

So what does the NRF see retailers doing?

1.  Inventory control- Retailers have had a full year to prepare for this holiday season. There will simply be less merchandise in the stores this year.   This is much different from last years scenario where no one realized the extent of the economic crisis till early September.  By that point there was no time to respond except for deep discounting.  Retailers will be highly promotional this year.  But those promotions were planed and not ad hoc.

2.  Reduced labor in the stores -Retailers are simply not hiring the numbers of store associates that they have in years past.  On the plus side this reduces costs dramatically.  Obviously the negative is almost certainly a poorer customer experience.  How serious this is, only time will tell.

3.  Scaling Back new store openings -Capital conservation has been the key strategy this year so why open stores if there’s no customers for them.  Part of this store strategy is also to reduce store hours.  This is very similar to the idea of reducing labor in the stores.  Only time will tell if the cost savings are worth the potential negative impact on customer experience.

4.  Focus on promotions- Retailers are fully aware that they will be dealing with a very skittish consumer so look for promotions early and often.

Despite the seriousness of the subject matter there were a few light moments.  The best line was “Is this the year you can buy your wife a vacuum cleaner” highlighting the trend in practical gift giving.  For the record I won’t get getting Mrs. R such a gift.

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Category: Retail Observations Retail Spending     Tags:

Mobile Commerce: Has Its Time Finally Arrived?

by Jeff Roster  |  September 24, 2009  |  6 Comments

Yes it’s been awhile since my last blog.  I have spent to much of my blog time exploring Twitter and other social media, but that’s another post.  In the retail world 2009 has turned out to be the year of cost containment and a borderline bunker mentality. The one glorious exception has been retailer’s embrace of social media and increasingly mobile commerce.  A recent blog “Starbucks reveals iPhone apps, heralds mobile e-commerce caught my attention.  I’ve been doing this job over 10 years now and have listened to m commerce pitches for most of that time.  Virtually all were very interesting but with little to no adoption by retailers.  But I believe that has clearly changed.  On my iPhone I can access apps by Amazon, Best Buy, Sears, eBay and the above described Starbucks app.  My guess is within 6 months there will be many, many more. 

But the key question is, “Will people use these apps to conduct real business. ”  I believe that question was answered very dramatically by eBay CEO and Presedent John Donahoe at recently:

  • eBay Mobile app for iPhone launched last year and to date, it’s been downloaded by 4 million users, regularly appearing in the top 3 free apps in the lifestyle category.
  • All kinds of things sold through eBay mobile app … the most expensive include:
    o A rare Lamborghini for $750k
    o A $300k power boat
  • Mobile is our fastest-growing business. Our GMV so far this year through the eBay mobile app alone is about $350 million … and growing double digits week on week.

Those are simply amazing stats and illustrate the broad appeal of m commerce today.  So to answer the question posed in the title, I do believe m commerce’s time has arrived.  Retailers need to prepare for this onslaught.  Are you ready?


Category: Mobile Commerce Retail Industry Events Retail Observations Retail Retail IT Marketing     Tags:

Retail 2009: Do the 4R’s Replace the 4P’s?

by Jeff Roster  |  March 12, 2009  |  3 Comments

Below are excerpts from the Executive Summary for the Gartner/RIS News Tech Study . We’ll be releasing the study and presenting the data next month at the Retail Technology Conference 2009.  Follow the runup to the conference on Twitter at #RTC

The year 2009 will long be remembered as a time of great challenge for retailing as a whole and the retail CIO in particular. No one wants to focus on doom and gloom on a steady basis, but as of this writing, there are few positive economic signs to point to on the horizon. The stock market continues to produce daily declines, the revaluation of housing has yet to stabilize, and the consumer continues to remain stingy on all but the most necessary of purchases and only buying items on deep discount.

So what’s in store for 2009? Will retailers slash their IT budgets in a desperate bid to improve their income statements? Slash, no, but they will definitely reassess, redirect, reallocate and remove costs as much as possible.

However, here’s why I don’t see overall IT budgets decreasing dramatically in 2009:

  • Centricity is STILL the dominant strategy today in retailing. In all but the smallest retail formats this requires technology enablement to successfully carry out.
  • Predominance of first-generation e–commerce platforms still exists across all tiers and subsectors, which requires significant upgrading or replacement.

Top 10 IT initiatives started in 2009

I’ve spent the last six months worrying what answer I would give to the question: What are retailers working on in 2009? “Nothing” was the most common answer I received from my blog and twitter efforts. While I understand it’s become fashionable to deliver negative news in this environment, fortunately the real answer to the question is much more positive.

The new initiatives can be summed up in two words: customers and data. A fair number of retailers are still wrestling with long-term POS and kiosk projects, which focus on improving customer service and satisfaction. And a larger block of retailers is wrestling with concerns surrounding data: How to find it, speed it up, and make it available to wider audiences within the organization.

So Where Do We Go from Here?

This year will be a time of phenomenal challenges to the retail community. We will see more retailers fall this year, like Circuit City and so many others. And as they pass from the scene their competitors will grow stronger.

We will see many retailers close unprofitable stores. Some will claim this is another sign on the pending retail apocalypse. While others, me included, believe this is a healthy development. It’s the pruning of the orchard in preparation for the next crop. Some of these stores should have been closed years ago. Better late then never.

We will most likely see housing valuations remain fluid and 401K’s still depressed. But those of us in the industry need to buckle down and persevere. And we will.

Finally, we need to begin preparations for a coming upturn. Despite all the doom and gloom a rebound will happen. And smart retailers will be ready when it does.


Category: Retail Industry Events Retail Observations Retail Retail IT Marketing Retail Spending Uncategorized     Tags:

IT Spend by Industry Worldwide

by Jeff Roster  |  February 11, 2009  |  5 Comments

The Industry Market Strategies team has just finished the first installment of the 2009 forecasting exercise. The complete WW Industries forecast cube can be found at Forecast: Industry Market Strategies by Vertical Industry, Worldwide, 2006-2012, 1Q09 Update and is now available. You will need to be an IMS client to gain total access to the cube.  But below we can give you a few glimpses into trending in the major industries. For readers of this blog that are not familiar with Gartner’s internal organization IMS is the team that I work in. Our task is to understand all the trends, drivers and barriers that impact our industry’s and translate that into our IT forecasts.

Below are some insights into what we see happening:

Financial Services industry spent $558.4 billion World wide in 2008 on IT (hardware, software, IT services, internal services and telecommunications) and it will be reduced by 2.1% in the US in 2009, yet positive growth remains in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia/Pacific regions. The worldwide compound annual growth rate from 2007 through 2012 will be 3.4%. Key analysts are Susan Cournoyer and Vittorio D’Orazio.

Retail industry spent $ 153.3 billion worldwide in 2008 on IT(hardware, software, IT services, internal services and telecommunications). Growth in North America in 2009 will essentially be flat at 0.5%.  Asia/ Pac, Japan, Latin America, Middle east and Africa will also have positive growth in 2009, while Western and Eastern Europe will be negative. The worldwide compound annual growth rate from 2007 through 2012 will be 3.6%.  The key analyst is Jeff Roster.

Transportation industry spent $105.9 billion worldwide in 2008 on IT (hardware, software, IT services, internal services and telecommunications).  North America, Western Europe and Japan will have negative growth in 2009 while Asia?pac, Eastern Europe, Latin America, Middle East and Africa  will be positive.  The worldwide compound annual growth rate from 2007 through 2012 will be 3.6%.  The key analyst is Bob Goodwin.

Utilities industry spent spend $128.1 billion worldwide in 2008 on IT (hardware, software, IT services, internal services and telecommunications). Despite a positive outlook for the industry, utilities apply the brakes in 2009 on their pace of annual growth to 2.8%, slowing to less than half of the 2008 AG. The worldwide compound annual growth rate WW from 2007 through 2012 will be 5.2%.  The key analyst is Cynthia Moore.

Communications industry spent $368.3 billion worldwide in 2008 on IT (hardware, software, IT services, internal services and telecommunications).  North America, eastern Europe, Asia Pac Latin America and Middle East and Africa will have positive growth in 2009 while Western Europe and Japan will not. The worldwide compound annual growth rate WW from 2007 through 2012 will be 4.0%.  The key analyst is venecia Liu.

Manufacturing industries spent $482.7 billion worldwide in 2008 on IT products and services worldwide in 2008 on IT (hardware, software, IT services, internal services and telecommunications).  The worldwide annual growth rate will fall to negative 0.6% in 2009, while the compound annual growth rate for 2007 through 2012 has been lowered to 2.8% as a result of the global economic slowdown.  The key analyst is Ken Brant.

Healthcare spent $88 billion worldwide in 2008 on IT products and services worldwide in 2008 on IT (hardware, software, IT services, internal services and telecommunications).  2009 will see growth in IT spend in all the regions.  The worldwide compound annual growth rate WW from 2007 through 2012 will be 5%.  The key analyst is John Lovelock.

If any reporters are interested in getting in touch with any of the analysts you can reach out to Gartner analyst relations or leave a comment below and I will be happy to route to the analyst.


Category: Retail Observations Retail Retail IT Marketing Retail Spending     Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Gartner/RIS News Retail Tech Study 2009

by Jeff Roster  |  January 27, 2009  |  1 Comment

I just launched the study yesterday and the data is streaming in.  Already I’m seeing some interesting and counterintuitive trends in the data.  Each year this study is important.  It gives us a unique view into the retailer mindset on IT spending patterns.  However this year the importance is off the charts.  If you haven’t gotten a survey invite and would like to particiape please drop me a note at and I’ll send you the link.

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Category: Retail Observations Retail Retail IT Marketing Retail Spending     Tags: