PROFILE

Ken Cassar

Vice President, Principal Analyst, Slice Intelligence
Ken Cassar is the principal analyst at Slice Intelligence, where he oversees Slice's research agenda; identifying and contextualizing e-commerce industry trends from Slice's panel of 4 million U.S. online consumers.

Ken brings a rich online retail background to Slice Intelligence. Most recently, Ken was the senior vice president, media analytic solutions at Nielsen, where he developed several innovative digital commerce measurement and advertising effectiveness solutions. Prior to Nielsen, Ken was an analyst at Jupiter Research, where he was an early thought leader, trusted adviser and media source on e-commerce. His prescient outlook on fledgling e-commerce industry was a key contributor to Jupiter’s dominance as a digital media zeitgeist at the dawn of the Internet.

Ken has an MBA and Bachelors Degree in Political Science from the University of Connecticut. Ken aspires to stay technologically ahead of his teenage children, as evidenced by his ‘Gadget Geek’ Slice profile. He also has the appropriate jacket for every occasion.

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  • Posted on: 06/22/2017

    Does Costco need to significantly undercut Amazon’s prices?

    There is a ton of customer and product overlap between Amazon and Costco. However, I believe that Costco should stick to its knitting. Large pack sizes, good prices, high quality, treasure hunt. While other retailers need to reinvent themselves to counter Amazon, I think that it would be a mistake for Costco to do so. In this order (declining importance), I believe that Amazon's threat level, by channel is Specialty, Mass, Drug, Grocery, Club, Convenience, Dollar.
  • Posted on: 06/20/2017

    Will UPS’s Black Friday delivery surcharge have retailers seeing red?

    This is a great news hook, but is not highly consequential for retailers. The increase of 27 cents on shipments that average $8 is less than 4 percent. The real issue is the $8, not the tiny short-term increase in price.
  • Posted on: 06/14/2017

    How smart is Jet.com’s decision to delist Costco’s Kirkland brand?

    It is madness for a retailer to sell another retailer's private label products, under any circumstance. In the case of Kirkland products, consumers are going to figure out eventually that it's a Costco product and potentially join the club to get more great Kirkland products. In the case of Amazon's Echo, retailers that sell that product are aiding and abetting the one company that is most likely to put them out of business. It is insane to help Amazon showcase its products in a physical environment. Let Amazon spend the money to build stores to show off its products. A lack of physical presence is Amazon's only Achilles' heel right now.
  • Posted on: 06/13/2017

    Can retailers escape the scourge of free shipping?

    We are (finally) seeing brick-and-mortar retailers offering appealing in-store pick up options for online orders. Walmart Grocery and Amazon Fresh Pickup are great examples. As is Target's new store format, with a separate entrance for in-store pick up orders. But the most common store pickup experience today remains a slog to the old layaway desk in the back of the store to wait in line. Brick-and-mortar retailers have got to accelerate the refitting of their stores to make in-store pick up a more appealing option that offers convenience, immediacy and cost savings.
  • Posted on: 05/30/2017

    Will Google change the game by linking clicks to in-store purchases?

    This is an impressive accomplishment with significant value for retailer advertisers. This will provide new visibility into the relationship between ads and consumer behavior. It's a very smart move for Google, too. It allows Google to take credit for transactions that it historically wouldn't have been able to claim credit for. Advertisers have got to recognize, though, that just because Google is able to claim a contribution to these sales, it doesn't deserve 100 percent credit -- Google ad exposures or searches would've been only one of many ad touchpoints along the path to purchase. It will be tempting for advertisers to attribute a full sale to Google where matches occur, but we know that there are many other touchpoints still in play that can't be ignored. We could be on the cusp of an era where Google touches become over-valued because of their visibility in the P2P.
  • Posted on: 05/19/2017

    Is Walmart on track to offer customers a seamless shopping experience?

    While Walmart is still a distant second online to Amazon it has a ton of momentum -- some from acquisitions, some from organic growth. Brands need a strong online counterweight to Amazon and Walmart has clearly emerged as that counterweight.
  • Posted on: 05/15/2017

    Will consumers decide meal kits just aren’t worth buying?

    There are niches of consumers willing to pay the price premium for meal kit solutions, driven by the convenience, desire to try new foods and by the high quality of the ingredients. More consumers will undoubtedly find that the prices are too high, though. High prices are driven by the costs of shipping cold-packed deliveries directly to consumers that might sit on their doorsteps for a few hours. I believe that grocery stores will ultimately find meal kit solutions to be a great opportunity and prices will be better because they don't need to be shipped across the country. Meal kit solution players that rely on third-party shippers will thrive in the niches, delivering meal solutions composed of products that can't easily be found in a typical grocery store.
  • Posted on: 04/24/2017

    Should Bloomingdale’s sales associates receive commissions for online sales?

    I am entirely sympathetic with Bloomingdale's sales associates. They are right that they are undoubtedly having an impact on online sales. Tracking multi-channel attribution though, down to the transaction level, would put an undue burden on the consumer and would be far too imprecise for a compensation system. Better to develop a system of attributing offline influenced online sales at the store or market level than at the employee level. Employees ought to be careful, though, to not overplay their hand -- odds are that they gain many store trips from well-informed customers that visited the website and then the store. My bet is that there are many more online-influenced store purchases than offline-influenced website purchases.
  • Posted on: 04/19/2017

    Will Chewy.com help PetSmart gobble up the online pet market?

    Wow. This is the boldest acquisition that I've ever seen of an online pure play by a brick-and-mortar retailer. Not just the fact that PetSmart paid $3.3 billion, but the size of the acquisition relative to PetSmart's $8 billion market capitalization. It is a "bet the company" move. For this deal to pay off, scale and bricks and clicks integration will be critical. They need to continue Chewy's pace of growth to achieve profitable scale on delivered orders, and they need to leverage PetSmart's huge store base as miniature fulfillment centers.
  • Posted on: 04/18/2017

    Will Amazon pull a Quidsi on Zappos?

    This is a great question. The drop in share of online shoes versus Amazon begs the comparison to Quidsi. I believe, though, that Zappos has such positive brand equity that its customers are much less price sensitive than on any other Amazon property. Amazon would be crazy to shut it down. Regarding a comment below, I do want to clarify that the Slice data sourced is just online shoe data, and excludes apparel and accessories. And we do indeed have a great way to track online sales now via panel, which many world class brands and retailers have become reliant upon.
  • Posted on: 04/07/2017

    What will the fourth industrial revolution mean for retail supply chains and jobs?

    I worry, a lot, about the impact of all of this automation on jobs in the U.S. The retail industry has picked up so much of the slack from manufacturing shifting overseas (albeit with lower paying jobs often without benefits), but every day we're hearing about key tasks in the retail store, from the cash register to stocking to customer support, being moved to machines. My economics professors would assure me that with increases in productivity, living standards inevitably increase and would have many historical examples to cite, like the invention of the chainsaw leading to a boom in building. Still, I worry ...
  • Posted on: 03/31/2017

    Why is Amazon trying to convince CPG giants to go consumer direct?

    My guess is that Amazon doesn't really want manufacturers to go direct, but to shift focus from brick-and-mortar retail to online retail. "Direct" to Amazon likely still has Amazon acting as the hub of demand generation, fulfillment and the conduit to the consumer.
  • Posted on: 03/27/2017

    Will ‘ambitious store redesign’ lift Target to new heights?

    We've seen a lot going on lately around new store formats, focused on omnichannel. IKEA is developing smaller, more local store formats in Europe. Walmart is trialing gas/convenience/online order pick up in Denver and Alabama. And of course Amazon has turned Seattle into an omni-channel petri dish. Target is trying to split the difference between these "ground up" omnichannel efforts and the common "omnichannel after-thought" strategy that defines much of omni-channel today. It's easy to say "too little, too late," but who knows? Better to try new things than to try nothing.
  • Posted on: 03/24/2017

    Can Nordstrom.com compete on experience over price?

    Nordstrom is absolutely going down the right path by focusing on experience and service over price, powered by technology. It is a very on-brand move, but more importantly recognizes that consumers are shifting dollars from products to experiences. Rather than trying to win a race to the bottom (price-wise) Nordstrom is playing a game that caters to its strengths as a brand.
  • Posted on: 03/15/2017

    How will AmazonFresh Pickup stores affect the grocery business?

    Historically, Amazon had been very careful about its moves in the grocery market. Amazon Fresh (with delivery) has had an extremely slow rollout. But Amazon does seem more urgent now. Amazon Prime Now skews much more heavily toward food than Amazon proper (about 35 percent of sales are grocery), and we see experimental store formats in Amazon Go and now Amazon Fresh Pickup. I think that it's a fair bet that Amazon will at least come close to the top five U.S. grocery retailers by 2022.

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