PROFILE

Ken Lonyai

Consultant, Strategist, Tech Innovator, UX Evangelist

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.

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Perspectives (blog)

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  • Posted on: 06/27/2017

    How will 3-D printing take hold at retail?

    As a former manufacturing engineer, I absolutely believe that retail-oriented 3-D printing is indeed a novelty.While there may be some viable small use cases, like customized ornaments, most of the "stuff" printed by 3-D systems amounts to trinkets. I'll skip all the metallurgy and strength of materials engineering-type arguments and simply state that there is a cavernous gap between the 3-D hype and reality. There are industrial printers that have far more replacement part printing type of capabilities, but they are unlikely to be in-store.Anyway, the process of scanning and printing is slow and usually requires mechanical knowledge to produce something of value. After one or two toyish printing experiences, the shininess of the experience will wear away, so I do not see shoppers continuing to invest their time. And just look at how much home sales of the machines have plummeted despite pundits stating every home would have a machine.Lastly, let's see the survey questions and understand the participants.
  • Posted on: 06/21/2017

    Will Amazon Prime Wardrobe change how Americans shop for clothes?

    Marge -- my wife loathed Macy's 20 years ago because their fitting rooms were dirty messes. How is Macy's doing today?
  • Posted on: 06/21/2017

    Will Amazon Prime Wardrobe change how Americans shop for clothes?

    Credit to Scott Galloway of L2 who has been predicting that Amazon will ultimately ship two boxes each week to customers using predictive AI to estimate what they want to buy -- the second box being empty for free returns. This sure sounds like a move in that direction. It also seems very inspired by a couple of startups in fashion that have done similar. The difference here is Amazon's potential for instant scale.Lesson to all retailers, especially those that sighed in relief about Amazon buying into grocery and not their vertical: any category anytime can expect the unexpected from Amazon. Don't wait.
  • Posted on: 06/20/2017

    Can humanizing self-checkouts reduce theft?

    Cathy, I agree with you and Frank Riso's point that if it were so costly, SCO would be pulled or monitored closely.There are three types of shoppers: those honest to a fault, those intent on stealing, and the majority in the middle as you described. Addressing the middle is a functional problem the store has to resolve with a better focus on UX throughout every aspect of shopping. Shoplifters are not easily deterred.So simple personalization (and I don't think determined shoplifters will swipe a card) and greetings won't mean much. A morality message might just tick off an honest shopper (like me).
  • Posted on: 06/20/2017

    How effective are Jet.com’s efforts to better understand its customers?

    It's hard for me to fathom that this is special -- not because it isn't (amongst merchants), but because this is UX101. Contextual research? Eye tracking? Get with it, retail. This is what brands have been doing for years and what successful brands do with the commitment and regularity Jet.com is applying.A brand (a company) exists to generate profits -- that's basic to business and a duty to shareholders. As I have outlined here, profitability is driven by UX. A brand that does not give UX major focus is a brand that is ultimately doomed. Jet, Amazon, Virgin, Apple and a short list of others get it. It's why I repeatedly admonish companies to have an empowered CXO or accept their fate.
  • Posted on: 06/16/2017

    What happens now that Amazon is acquiring Whole Foods?

    This is clearly a shakeup, but with so many unknowns around strategy I don't expect consumers to experience much change overnight.Amazon gets an instant footprint in grocery but will have to build many stores to reach a broad market. While there won't be an immediate name change, my guess is that eventually the Whole Foods name will fade or be amended to "by Amazon."As a person that gets a big portion of his diet from Whole Foods, I know firsthand that the grocer has had many shortcomings and that those dedicated to eating organic foods have had a lot of issues with them, especially over their support to kill GMO labeling. Depending upon what Amazon chooses to do, they may embrace those customers whom Mackey has disillusioned or may revamp the chain to be more mainstream. I think in time, they will go more mainstream.The real impact will be felt from competitors like Target and Kroger. I don't believe they are positioned well enough to fight an onslaught in the category. Walmart will clearly dig in and at least for the next few years, there will be a food price war that will benefit consumers, hurt farmers, and likely hurt national brands as well.On the industry side, for the next few years or more, expect the category go as smoothly as a shopping cart with a broken wheel.
  • Posted on: 06/16/2017

    Did Amazon just patent tech that could end showrooming in its stores?

    If Amazon filters/blocks content that shoppers seek while in their stores, they will quickly discover how best to lose customer loyalty.As impervious to failure as they seem to be, Amazon is not above missteps that cost them revenue and customers. For every Prime sychophant, there is an Amazon customer that can take them or leave them. If Amazon thinks that blocking open Internet access (or cleverly slowing it) to suit their needs will work, they will not only drive away occasional/fickle shoppers but even regulars that feel the giant has overstepped and exercised too much power and control.It's a big "if" as to whether they will ever attempt something like Physical Store Online Shopping Control, but if they do, the press, blogosphere, and RetailWire BrainTrust will have a feast at their expense.
  • Posted on: 06/15/2017

    Are consumers ready to use automated purchasing tech on a wide scale?

    Interesting addendum:Not automated purchasing but, similarly, automated (subscription) rental.
  • Posted on: 06/15/2017

    Are consumers ready to use automated purchasing tech on a wide scale?

    Automated purchasing is a brand or retailer's dream -- not so much for consumers. I agree that convenience is a driver, but it's limited by a number of factors that impinge upon "convenience."There's always the question of frequency. Without a sensorial mechanism to only replenish items just-in-time, consumers likely will, over time, accumulate a surplus of auto-replenished items. Sensors or AI are nice for early adopters of these nascent technologies, but it's too early to be convinced that a broad range of consumers are ready to have a large portion of CPG item usage monitored by faceless multinational corporations. Auto-replenish also is completely dependent upon price transparency and the trust that there won't be any form of price gouging. Lastly, some people may stick with the same detergent, razors, or deodorant for years, but when they want to change, they may not be willing to use automated purchasing for the new unproven brand.Likely, there will be growth in these purchase mechanisms, but retailers' dreams are not going to be realized the way they hope. What has made m/e-commerce flourish with shoppers is the ability to pivot with just a few touches. Auto-replenishment is counter to that.
  • Posted on: 06/14/2017

    Who owns the in-store experience?

    The biggest strategic failure of CX is the lack of acknowledgment that EVERYONE has ownership of the customer experience.The customer journey starts with a thought about a want or need and continues through every step until it is fulfilled and then how it's supported after. Every touchpoint in that journey contributes to the overall experience and every interaction can make or break it. Even third parties are contributors (for example delivery or warranty repair).Starting in the C-suite, all brands engaged in commerce need to recognize this (bricks and mortar and m/e-commerce) and take actions to create a culture to manifest it. It is exactly why every business - not just retail, must have a CXO (Chief Experience Officer) with sufficient clout to drive the focus on experience throughout the organization.Ironically, superb CX is not necessarily costly. It is more about focus, commitment, detail, consistent execution, and a touch of pride than money.
  • Posted on: 06/13/2017

    Can retailers escape the scourge of free shipping?

    There is no free lunch, I mean shipping. It's an illusion that has in just a short number of years, become a pillar of on-line shopping.Consumers are OK with a minimum purchase threshold to get it and are willing to accept more than two-day delivery to save delivery costs, but the standard has been set by Amazon and Prime. Any retailer that balks at free shipping or tries any scheme that imposes on shopper expectations is going to fail. Plus, Amazon is well positioned to counter any competitor's move that threatens their sales - need I say $25 free regular shipping is back?I don't see much changing from the status quo for most retailers now: offer free shipping at a threshold, roll the costs into pricing, try to encourage BOPIS, beat up the carriers as much as possible, find cost efficiencies everywhere throughout the supply chain, deliver the best UX imaginable in hopes of building loyalty, grin and bear it.
  • Posted on: 06/12/2017

    Is Walmart’s innovation leader right that the AR revolution is a sure thing?

    AR in and of itself is mono-sensory: vision. VR too.
  • Posted on: 06/12/2017

    Is Walmart’s innovation leader right that the AR revolution is a sure thing?

    It's cool that Imran has acknowledged what I've been doing for the last 15 years. He's right in saying "They want to engage all their senses."AR is just one piece of that full experience. Other things like interactive scent, haptics (textural touch), and sensing technologies (facial, voice, affective) are all elements that have their place in creating truly immersive experiences.The big problem with brands and retailers is that they feel innovative by delving into one area of experience at a time. Lately, all the hype is on voice, so that's where the focus is. Previously, it was on AR and that fizzled, but now with Apple making a big announcement and Walmart's validation, the buzz will circle back to AR again. The real killer app and value add is piecing it all together to create a real HUI (humanized user experience). And of all the major brands, Microsoft is the one quietly moving the farthest in that direction with HoloLens.
  • Posted on: 06/09/2017

    Will ‘Project Gigaton’ give Walmart a sustainable competitive edge?

    Cue the applause. It's a great effort by Walmart and Environmental Defense Fund is a perfect partner.My belief is that people AND companies need to do the right things for the right reasons, however, in the strictest sense, companies are only obliged to focus on profits. Rather than let my skepticism about their motivations get the better of me in trying to determine how altruistic Walmart is on this issue, I'm glad that they will be making a positive impact on the environment. Plus, it ups the stakes for others to follow suit.Having said that, Walmart doesn't cater to "urban hipsters" or "treehuggers" per se, each a demographic typically interested in theses issues, so one would expect Amazon (who does attract them) to be the company at the helm here. I think some of Amazon's customers will take notice.
  • Posted on: 06/05/2017

    Are retailers selling their souls and giving away customers to Amazon?

    Ricardo and Phil: I appreciate your perspectives."...retailers are vulnerable to losing their customers to Amazon because they have not spent the last 20 years focused on their customers like Amazon has." - many comments on RW where I've said the same. However, it's not about the marketplace, it's about a retailer opening a gateway for their customers to Amazon (including the marketplace). It has been claimed that Alexa limits products in categories of Amazon's choosing. One example: every physical device has a unique MAC address, so if it chose to (speculation) Amazon could track what device came from what retailer and use that data to tailor Alexa responses to limit a retailer's customer's choices, give loss-leader prices, or take those customers away.The discussion is not about keeping the Alexa genie in the bottle (no competitor can), it's about retailers effectively choosing to put their customers in the bottle too.

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