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.

Other Links from Ken Lonyai:

Perspectives (blog)

  • Posted on: 08/17/2017

    Should drones be used for data collection in addition to deliveries?

    I believe this nothing more than the Amazon hype cycle, keeping the brand in the headlines. Theoretically, this is a great idea, but there is so much distance between reality and theory, that it's almost silly. One basic assumption is that customers want Amazon evaluating their life needs from every direction and selling them anything they need including roof repair and hedge trimming. Time will tell, but I don't buy it.
  • Posted on: 08/09/2017

    What to do when shop local turns into look local and buy online?

    Of all the suggestions here, home delivery is the only one that has legs -- very weak ones though. Free delivery is commonplace online except (usually) for very small orders or bulky/heavy items, so even that won't have much impact.The reality is that mom-and-pops can no longer sustain a business selling commodity items.For local businesses to have a future they must minimize commodities that are subject to price competition. Service and the human touch will resonate with some shoppers, but as Bob heard, not with a growing cadre of shop local, buy online consumers. Righteousness and morals are easy for shoppers when it doesn't impact them, but when it affects their wallet or inconveniences them, principals are easily forgotten.
  • Posted on: 08/01/2017

    How disruptive is Alexa to CPG brands?

    I've been writing about this very topic and touched on the dangers of retailers cozying up to Alexa in this article. Ultimately, CPG's have it far worse than retailers and will lose the consumer clout and trust they've spent decades acquiring.While I agree with Lee that direct-to-consumer is a big part of the CPG future I disagree about chatbots and assistants being brand agnostic. Let Alexa do your shopping and she will pick house brands every time. That's not being agnostic. That's a very calculated and profitable determination.
  • Posted on: 07/17/2017

    Are $3.00 generics a sound grocery e-tailing model?

    This is a contemporary rehash of no-frills products that swept into supermarkets in the 1970s. No-frills had a limited lifespan then and it's way too early to know if it will work for e-commerce. If the lore about Millennials being cost sensitive is true, they have a shot. And if, "if" Brandless catches on, it will be another shot across the bow of stalwart CPG brands which have seen a few of those shots heading their way lately.
  • Posted on: 07/14/2017

    Will Walmart win back-to-school with click and collect services?

    This is probably one of the biggest areas of overlap between Walmart and Amazon, so grab the popcorn and a comfy chair -- this one's worth watching closely. It's also a real test of Prime and same day delivery vs. click and collect as the last minute buying frenzy in early September kicks in. Too close to call!
  • Posted on: 07/14/2017

    Will an AR try-on app cut down on online clothing returns?

    There is a subjective aspect to fit/look that no app can ever fully master. In time, with better modeling (drape/movement and avatar motion), AI that learns what matters and what appeals to each consumer on a person-by-person basis, and even haptic feel (needs an enabled device) AR will become very valuable to shoppers, brands, and merchants. Until then, each app moves the needle forward a tad and returns may reduce slightly, but for a very long time, over-buying and returns are just part of the landscape.
  • Posted on: 07/13/2017

    Should the Amazon/Whole Foods merger worry national brands?

    What most think of as national brands are not present at Whole Foods. For example, they sell Annie's (acquired by General Foods) but not General Foods' mainstays like Cheerios. So CPG brands are fighting a different kind of battle, where it's more about reaching a consumer that is tuned into non-traditional media and shopping with mobile augmentation.CPG's are also at the start of exploring direct-to-consumer sales. So the unknown is really about where the future is for CPG's irrespective of Amazon attempting to create their own brands and how traditional grocers will react and strategize in response to the direction CPG's take. I gave some thoughts in point four of "Five Pain Points Grocers Must Address Immediately to Survive in an Amazon/Whole Foods World."
  • Posted on: 07/12/2017

    Will Amazon’s answer to the ‘Geek Squad’ help put Alexa in more homes?

    I was unaware that there was such a need.This is clearly an important step to cement Alexa usage into the lifestyle of Amazon customers. I've said from day one that Alexa is a sales tool, everything else is just window dressing. By making a concerted effort to entangle the Echo series of devices into the fabric of shopper's homes and lives, Alexa is a ready tool to make Amazon purchases fast and convenient. Coupled with Alexa's proclivity to suggest Amazon branded products over others, this is a worrisome development for not only the Best Buys of the world but CPG brands and especially Google, which is trying to get traction with Google Home and Apple and Microsoft which are lost in the AA (artificial assistant) landscape.
  • Posted on: 07/11/2017

    Will online games fuel mobile engagement for and other retailers?

    This is a very old approach within the realm of gamification that in one form or another predates the web by eons. Success has to do with execution and audience relevancy. Except for brands that are bent on maintaining a stuffy persona, it's not a question of should or should not but of value-add for the consumer.Regarding apps: retailers that have apps offering little incentive for download and use might get a little bump from gamification, but unless it produces over-the-top benefits and/or entertainment for a large percentage of users, it will die out quickly.
  • Posted on: 07/11/2017

    Are retailers measuring omnichannel all wrong?

    Store/omnichannel metrics definitely need to reflect today's shopping habits, but despite big data, no metric will ever be absolute.Much of customer engagement and associate time is simply intangible. It's easy to believe that while nowadays more and more data points can be gathered, that clear correlations can be made. A shopper that is researching products but then gets distracted by a call for a few minutes and browses only half focused, will skew their interest levels falsely. In-store, some customers need more explanations and coaxing than others to make a purchase - no fault of the associate. And ... any store that deludes themselves that an associate exists solely to focus on direct revenue-producing activities is courting failure.
  • Posted on: 07/10/2017

    Will Backstage shops draw customers to Macy’s mall stores?

    This sounds like an acknowledgment that the department store is failing. Attempting to forge two identities and doing it successfully is difficult and dangerous. Customers are not going to see Macy's as a full-priced merchant and a discounter both. Most will choose their version of the store and in large part stick with it. The odds are with the off-priced store being the choice and ultimately cannibalizing the department store. The incremental spend increase is probably wishful thinking. And if Macy's shifts to off-price, they are going to bump up against a lot of competitors and just as many difficulties as they now face.
  • Posted on: 07/06/2017

    Have grocers figured out how to successfully do business online?

    Great points Gene. Customer experience is defined by the customer's wants and needs, not the store's. It's why Best Buy's biggest growth is online -- consumers make choices that suit them."And if it doesn’t mean going into the store, they should aggressively find ways to serve the customer without them going into the store." Yup. I just addressed this in point 5 of my article "Five Pain Points Grocers Must Address Immediately to Survive in an Amazon/Whole Foods World>/a>.""forcing them to go into the store may actually chase them to a competitive alternative." Yup again. While I wouldn't say "force," we now choose to receive $200-$400/month of non-perishable grocery delivered to our home, all of which comes from former Whole Foods in-store purchases. There is no convenience wasting our time grabbing the same boxes and bottles that are delivered at lower cost (not from Amazon BTW!).
  • 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.

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