PROFILE

Ken Lonyai

Digital Innovation Strategist, co-founder, ScreenPlay InterActive

Ken is a 15 year veteran of interactive project development including some of the industry’s most unique experiential systems. His skills span the on-line world and nearly every realm of human/computer interface used by brands and retailers – mobile, interactive kiosks, experiential displays, and more. Known as the man with the miniature R&D lab in his head, when he’s not working on a client project, Ken can be found designing, tinkering, and developing some cool new experiential device in SPIA Labs.

He is a consumer engagement expert using cutting-edge, unique, and enticing brand experiences that encourage “like”, “share”, and “buy now” behaviors, as well as a creator of true consumer excitement by baking-in fun, social, and gamification actions that generate results. Focused on producing “amazing user experiences” for brands and retailers, he helps companies transform into destinations that consumers seek out and want to interact with.

Ken is a subject matter expert in user experience, most things interactive, experiential marketing, mobile app strategy/development, and digital UX/UI.

Additionally, he is a co-founder of NUI Central™, an organization to promote using natural human traits (voice, gesture, eye movement, etc.) to bi-directionally interact with smart devices.

Other Links from Ken Lonyai:

Perspectives (blog)

  • VIEW ARTICLES
  • VIEW COMMENTS
  • Posted on: 02/24/2017

    Is Amazon’s Alexa a threat to rival retailers?

    Brandon -- your enthusiasm for voice/AI is impressive, but you have oversimplified many of the factors affecting using voice as a purchase mechanism. Of course, voice/NLU interfaces are not new, it's just that in the last few years they have consistently reached better than 95 percent accuracy and with improved AI, they've become more feasible. Additionally, Alexa's success has as much to do with the mechanisms of commerce Amazon created for itself before the advent of Alexa as with the technology making Echo/Alexa work. So I have to disagree in many ways with what you have laid out as solutions to pain points and somewhat dispute the pain points because the solutions are really quite complex and create new issues in and of themselves.
  • Posted on: 02/24/2017

    Is Amazon’s Alexa a threat to rival retailers?

    Voice interfaces threaten those resisting change, yet often delight them once they've experienced positive interactions. So there is no specific retailer vs. voice/AI issue.Like any other method of interaction, human or otherwise, voice and/or artificial assistants are a mechanism that forward-thinking brands can add to their toolbox and reap benefits from. That is, if employed in a way that benefits users and is not technology for technology's sake or to mimic competitors. It's particularly true for mobile apps. One example, talking hands-free to an app that is intelligently empowered with things like beacons, can offer hands-free benefits to in-store shoppers that touch interfaces can't. It will be coming to the web soon as well.Regarding teaming up with Echo rivals, I believe that's a failed approach that in their distress, retailers will try, but will ultimately resolve to be of little real benefit. Google is attempting such a consortium right now, but as I described in my recent article the challenges of multiple merchants on a shared voice platform are many, compared to the infrastructure/logistics that give Alexa and her users purchasing convenience and confidence.
  • Posted on: 02/23/2017

    Will a new TJX concept put more hurt on department stores?

    TJX has curated a really nice mix of name brands and alternatives at price points that consumers accept, while being very successful at creating their own brand perception as discount/value retailers. That's further bolstered by the quasi-bargain hunting experience due to what (I believe) is often limited inventory for many items. So shoppers fall into the hunt mentality and gamesmanship (fun!) of being in a physical store and discovering that thing or clothing item at a reasonable cost.Contrast that with department stores that are largely fancified warehouses of rack after rack after rack of merchandise, often at premium prices, and it's easy to recognize TJX's intrigue.
  • Posted on: 02/22/2017

    Can Walmart grow its online business profitably?

    More detail is needed as to why profits were down, but the implication is that competing online is expensive.That said, Walmart is powerful enough that they can never be counted out. It's not Amazon that needs to worry too much though, it's the other mid-market retailers/discounters like Kohl's and Target as well as mom and pops. I recently wrote a comparison of Walmart and Amazon's target markets relative to Walmart's two-day shipping initiative and detailed that point.Additionally, I cannot help but ponder -- if such growth is portrayed as being so easy to achieve (now that apparently there is an impetus) through acquisition or redoubling efforts, why did the world's largest retailer wait 20 years to get it together and allow an upstart to steal market share?
  • Posted on: 02/21/2017

    Third-party e-commerce fulfillers: Friend or foe to the grocers?

    Tony - not picking on you and I understand that you operate under a different set of rules as a family owned store vs. a chain but...Here in NJ, ShopRite is the dominant independent (co-op) grocery chain and stretches into 5 other states w/337 stores. That said, they are a painfully average store, yet they have a mobile scan app, BOPIS, and run their own home delivery. They are not a brand anyone would consider cutting edge and their stores are as humdrum as can be. Still, surprisingly, they have (seemingly) pulled this off and in my opinion, are shrewdly hedging their future. For now, there may be kinks and it may be costly, but in the long-run, they will be ahead of competitors that someday may have to (possibly hurriedly) bring their outsourced delivery back in-house.
  • Posted on: 02/21/2017

    Third-party e-commerce fulfillers: Friend or foe to the grocers?

    I'm in total agreement with Jon on this, especially his characterization about questionable “partners."It looks like past lessons other retail segments learned the hard way are lost on many grocers. Rather than invest in themselves for something that is only going to expand and be a permanent fixture of business now and indefinitely (e-commerce/fulfillment), they are outsourcing.Outsourcing is what I refer to as one of the "Dirty Deeds" in my "UX/Profitability Continuum" theorem. In the short run it's a way to increase profits, but over time, sometimes not that much time, the shortcomings of poor user experience surface, customers turn away and profits tank. Regaining the level of customer support/trust that existed prior is a long haul back and sometimes it can never be recouped, or it can be fatal.The last lesson comes from the planet's most successful e-tailer, who is growing their business: they are increasing their first-hand footprint in the entire purchase/delivery cycle, not shying away from it.
  • Posted on: 02/17/2017

    Will Costco, Kohl’s, Target, et al give Google Home an edge over Amazon’s Echo?

    This has been Google's plan from the start. It's one way to fend off the loss of ad revenue voice interfaces cause and the loss of product search Amazon has taken.I've been involved in designing a similar voice-assisted tool for a couple of years and can say without hesitation, it sounds wonderful until you look at the functional details. For example, Target and BB&B have plenty of product overlap. If a consumer wants to buy one of those products, where does it come from? Is there a "get me the best price" mechanism that's going to be built in? What about buying six items from three vendors? Etc., etc. ...Amazon has an inherent advantage being the sole vendor/marketplace that Google Home and its partners are going to struggle to topple. I never count Google out, but it's not the first-mover scenario that matters most here, it's the execution and multiple vendors that otherwise don't play well together that make it very challenging.
  • Posted on: 02/06/2017

    Can augmented reality solve the virtual dressing room problem?

    Sterling, I get your point and we're just Monday morning quarterbacking as to what they're doing, but if you're right, that's horrible UX. A brand either tests quietly on the side and iterates rapidly until they have a viable product or sits it out. Going half in is always a failure.It does remind me of Gap's former CEO laughing off Amazon's logistics capability, thinking that a half-ass effort shipping from Gap stores would be competitive. Hmmm ... where is Gap in comparison to Amazon now?
  • Posted on: 02/06/2017

    Can augmented reality solve the virtual dressing room problem?

    The concept is great, the execution is weak.There are really good 3-D scanning tools that capture a user's true body shape, not a 20 percent near match. Particularly with how women's sizes work, unless a person happens to be close to the mannequin's size/proportions, the representation will be incorrect and potentially create disappointment or resentment.So, rather than being groundbreaking, I see this as an opportunity for competitors to do AR clothes sizing the right way and blindside Gap.
  • Posted on: 02/02/2017

    Is omnichannel cannibalization retail’s biggest challenge?

    Jon -- you might want to investigate Target CEO Brian Cornell's statements before drawing conclusions. I suggest Barbara Thau's article on the subject.
  • Posted on: 02/02/2017

    Is omnichannel cannibalization retail’s biggest challenge?

    The omnichannel dilemma can be summed up in three words: "capacity" and "market share." Creating more consumer channels doesn't change that.GDP is only so big and grows at very modest rates while technology has increased the potential for consumer sales at massive rates. Something has to give. Part of it has been cannibalization of the existing retail market by digital-only upstarts (including you-know-who) and part of it obviously is from cannibalization of a brand's own physical stores. So if the capacity for consumer purchases is only so big and a brand only has so much market share, increasing purchasing channels can only mean one thing: some channel will suffer and, for traditional retailers, it more and more is their physical stores.The only two true solutions here are:
    1. Scale back on the least profitable channels which, for a growing number, are their physical stores;
    2. Do the even harder thing and grow market share to meet the sales capacity of all channels, avoiding cannibalization.
  • Posted on: 02/01/2017

    How will online shopping transform the grocery business?

    This is shaping up to be a 25-year overnight success. Among physical shopping, grocery has always been more of a hassle than a source of delight, so what is now finally an internet-savvy (at least comfortable) society will surely embrace the convenience. Plus most Americans still eat the SAD (Standard American Diet), choosing commercial brands that they are familiar with. So without an interest in carefully scrutinizing labels or picking fresh food items, it's a big time saver.Our family eats very differently than the majority so hand-selecting fresh organic fruits and vegetables is paramount, but for packaged items, like pasta, we buy online and take the savings and doorstep delivery convenience. And no, Amazon is NOT competitive with other merchants on these items.
  • Posted on: 01/31/2017

    Will feel and touch tech transform mobile marketing and commerce?

    Tony -- why haven't you called me? We've been providing interactive fragrance experiences since 2001 and the bacon smell is mouthwatering. When we added interactive taste, we became the first (only?) provider of all five senses interactively. But, as you know, as much as the technology can enhance experiences, it's hard to get retailers to be the ones to put their money where their mouth is (pun intended) and haptics right now, is in the same boat.
  • Posted on: 01/31/2017

    Will feel and touch tech transform mobile marketing and commerce?

    The only way haptics will be a breakthrough technology or see widespread adoption is when a major mobile manufacturer incorporates it into their products.Greg Topel has been a speaker at our monthly HUI Central (HUI = Humanized User Interface) Meetup as well as a couple of other haptics industry professionals. Their demos are quite impressive and go a long way to simulating textures and physical attributes. Combined with a well-conceived interface, the technology adds to the experience of interacting with "stuff."I always state that "touch screens" are not really touch, in that touching a screen or touching a window provides no tactile difference or information. Haptics goes a long way to solving that and has applications in gaming and retail. So as the expansion of digital commerce grows, particularly mobile, haptics has the potential to one day make mobile more experiential and viable.
  • Posted on: 01/27/2017

    Will Whole Foods stay fresh using outside suppliers?

    If Whole Foods creates stringent supplier quality and price guidelines and holds suppliers to those standards, it's all upside.There are innumerable food preparation companies and caterers that on a daily basis already meet safety and quality guidelines, so there are definitely price-competitive vendors available. Nothing about their fresh food is particularly unique, so there's even an opportunity for collaboration and regional influences to improve the product mix and cater to local influences.In fact, they have a silent problem right now, not reported anywhere, that can be alleviated. The company has a perception that it's a major supplier of organic products (not especially true -- that's another story) but their fresh foods and salad bar are typically devoid of ANY organic options. I get pushback on this from those that believe the hype and don't look for proof, but it's absolute. So, in outsourcing Whole Foods can capture a missing growth opportunity (the fastest growing food category) by stipulating that vendors include a designated number of organic options.

Contact Ken