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: 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.
  • Posted on: 06/28/2017

    Will Target’s answer to Prime Pantry help it outdo Amazon?

    I understand the Amazon and brand interest in Prime Pantry -- increasing basket sizes and selling products that don't lend themselves to club-sized packs. But I've never understood the consumer shopping mission that these offerings fill. As a consumer, I've never said to myself "I'd really like a box full of stuff." I get it in niches -- sending the kids off to college, got a new pet, etc ... but I'm very surprised that Prime Pantry has had the success that it has.
  • 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.

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