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: 12/14/2017

    Target to make same-day delivery push with Shipt acquisition

    It is not a foregone conclusion that consumers will pay a premium for same-day delivery. This is a risky bet for Target, but a necessary one given Amazon's dominance and Walmart's recent surge.
  • Posted on: 12/06/2017

    Will mobile move the needle for J. Crew – this holiday and beyond?

    J. Crew's online sales were up only 6 percent this Cyber Week, compared with overall e-commerce at 18 percent, surely a disappointing performance. In my own quick shop this morning, I found a number of items with very spotty size availability. Is it possible that J. Crew expected to do even worse? How else can those out-of-stocks be explained? Having a great mobile experience is important, but the basics of retailing are even more critical. Come on guys, get it together.
  • Posted on: 11/29/2017

    Can retailers keep their holiday sales mojo working after Cyber Monday?

    In 2016, 53 percent of online holiday sales (Nov 1 - Dec 31) came after Cyber Monday. With Christmas on a Monday this year there MIGHT be an inclination for some consumers to wait until the Saturday and Sunday before, which means that they'd be buying in brick-and-mortar stores. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are all about deals while the rest of the holiday season, for online retailers, is all about execution: Being in-stock on key items and being able to fulfill quickly and in line with promised delivery dates.
  • Posted on: 11/27/2017

    How would the end of net neutrality impact retail?

    Imagine if the highways were privately owned and the owner had the right to deny trucks owned by certain companies from using the highway, or to relegate them to lanes filled with traffic and potholes. While the "Internet as superhighway" metaphor may be beaten to death, it is entirely appropriate here. One might hope that the cable companies wouldn't abuse their power and only, as they say, charge more for super-fast content delivery. The reality, though, is that these companies are monopolies, the result of government subsidization and protection, which will focus first, second and third on their bottom line. They are not going to be satisfied using their newfound power to extract a little bit of extra revenue from online powers such as Netflix, Google and Amazon.
  • Posted on: 11/07/2017

    Amazon scales back Fresh deliveries

    The economic challenges of offering fresh grocery delivery in some markets explains why Amazon felt compelled to buy Whole Foods, and why it is developing new fresh pickup models. There are some markets that simply do not offer the population density required to profitably deliver groceries. Amazon realized that by continuing in those markets it would have been throwing good money after bad.
  • Posted on: 11/06/2017

    Amazon undercuts rivals by adding discounts to marketplace seller prices

    While, at first blush, this seems like a clear win for all, it can create sticky issues for marketplace retailers that are required to abide by rigid brand pricing guidelines. Marketplace sellers need to document their own pricing and Amazon-imposed price cuts very carefully in case key brands threaten to cut off their supply for violations of MSRP.
  • Posted on: 10/03/2017

    Walmart deal shows it’s serious about same-day delivery

    Two things struck me as interesting about this deal: 1.) It is the first acquisition by Walmart.com that I can think of that is about logistics. In the past, Walmart's online acquisitions were of retailers or of technology providers. 2.) This is a clear signal that Walmart is looking to hit both the affluent online shopper (who will pay extra for immediacy and convenience) and the less affluent customer (who will likely use a service like Walmart Grocery, where there are no delivery fees). Walmart may be one of only a few retailers that has the resources to try to be all things to all people. At least Walmart hopes so.
  • Posted on: 09/21/2017

    Albertsons buys its way into the meal kit business with Plated acquisition

    This was a very smart move by Albertsons. They didn't buy Blue Apron or Hello Fresh, which would've cost a fortune, but they've got a foot in the meal kit delivery space. I'd advise Albertsons to focus the current Plated mail order business on serving niches of customers with narrow dietary needs (vegan, low fat, Paleo, etc. ... ) and target less expensive, more mass-oriented meals to store shoppers.
  • Posted on: 08/23/2017

    Will the Walmart/Google voice deal give Amazon’s Alexa a run for its money?

    This is a great baby step for Google and Walmart, but Google Shopping Express is only available in a limited number of markets and they are just offering some of Walmart's inventory. Let's not lose the forest through the trees here though. It looks as though Walmart is not going to build an Echo competitor, which is a big deal. This is one of the first overt moves that we are seeing toward the development of a coalition of companies that are aligning to collectively challenge Amazon's dominance of e-commerce. I'll let someone else come up with a clever name for it.
  • Posted on: 07/25/2017

    How will smaller rivals survive in an Amazon and Walmart world?

    I worry a lot more about the medium-sized retailer ($10 million - $500 million) than I do about the small retailer (less than $10 million). Smaller retailers have the unique ability to laser focus on a narrow target customer and offer unique merchandise, servicing, positioning, content and promotions. It's the medium-sized retailers that are caught in the middle, trying to serve broader constituencies without the scale of the bigger players.
  • Posted on: 07/14/2017

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

    Back-to-school is a terrific solution selling opportunity for online retailers that hasn't been very well exploited to date. There are strong opportunities for both delivery (think about a Prime Pantry type BTS solution) and for click and carry. With that said, there will undoubtedly be items that kids will want to pick out in person. Sometimes kids will want to touch, drop and kick the Pokemon lunch box before they decide that it's the right one for them.
  • Posted on: 07/14/2017

    Can retailers hope to compete this holiday season with standard digital marketing?

    We shouldn't paint digital marketing with too broad a brush, and we need to be careful that we don't oversimplify our metrics. Digital marketing is about MUCH more than email and display ads -- search results (on Google, but more importantly on Amazon) are far more important for brands than display ads, and tend to see strong returns. And click-through rate is a terrible measure of success for a display ad: Work that we did at Nielsen five-or-so years ago, where we looked at the impact of display advertising, revealed a negative correlation between campaign impact and click-through rate.
  • Posted on: 07/13/2017

    Should the Amazon/Whole Foods merger worry national brands?

    Amazon's private label ambitions are bold, and the Whole Foods acquisition will allow it to significantly accelerate development of brands like Amazon Elements and Happy Belly. Fortunately for brands, Whole Foods is no Walmart: It is a modestly-sized chain that is a key retailer for few large brands.
  • Posted on: 07/07/2017

    Is QVC’s acquisition of HSN more about TV shopping or e-commerce?

    Half of sales from QVC and HSN are currently from e-commerce, and the threat from Amazon is clearly front and center for both companies, so e-commerce is clearly in focus. The biggest opportunity in this merger is for the two brands to strategically differentiate each from the other. Slice data shows that there is high overlap between QVC.com and HSN.com shoppers and that the shopper demographics are virtually identical. Greater differentiation will expand the customer base and allow each to become more relevant to its customers.
  • Posted on: 07/06/2017

    Have grocers figured out how to successfully do business online?

    I am in the middle of a wonderful book, The Great A&P and the Struggle for Small Business in America, which is an amazing book about the beginnings of the modern grocery industry. It is such a hard, complex business, highly impacted by the environment around it (suppliers, distribution, consumers) with virtually no room for error. The rise of e-commerce doesn't seem so much disruptive as yet another inevitable evolution in an industry hypersensitive to its environment. Has ANYONE figured out online grocery? Absolutely not. Is it alarming? Certainly. But for those that signed up to work in the grocery business, this upheaval is just part of the game. Evolve or go the way of those that didn't -- ironically, including A&P, which for so long thrived by innovating and adapting, until it didn't.

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