PROFILE

Dion Kenney

COO, Mondofora

Dion is the founder of local-search marketplace Mondofora.com, and a business consultant at y2 Strategic Group. Dion’s primary areas of interest include retail tech, local business, consumer trends, technology as a transformational tool, entrepreneurship and innovation. His education mirrors this tech/business mix with a Master’s Degree in Experimental Atomic Physics and a Wharton MBA.

To learn more, visit: mondofora.com

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  • Posted on: 01/11/2022

    Reality hits omnichannel retail with a hard truth

    There is no single model that will adequately serve all retailers, products and shoppers. Do I care how and where my Tide Scent-Free Pods laundry detergent comes from? Probably not. Do I care about my suits? YES! (Brooks Brothers, measured and tailored to fit, ready by Tuesday, with final fitting in store!) Ultimately, the shopping experience is part of the relationship and experience with the customer, and there is no "one size fits all" solution. Tech should augment the store and shopper's experience, not eliminate the need for a relationship between them.
  • Posted on: 01/10/2022

    Has BOPIS lost its pandemic boost?

    The COVID-driven dimension of BOPIS may wax and wane with the rise and fall of pandemic numbers. But the long-term baseline use of BOPIS is likely to increase as more retailers become more proficient at making their "BUY ONLINE" capability better/easier/faster and consumers incorporate "pick it up on the way home" into their normal daily behavior and expectations.
  • Posted on: 01/10/2022

    Are AI-powered customer service agents already human enough?

    There's a persistent but mistaken impression that AI will eliminate the need for humans. It's true that chatbots can present as infinitely patient (I know I cannot), and can provide a friendly interface to customer interactions for many CS issues. And some, but not all, people actually prefer to interact with an anonymous machine rather than an actual person. However AI still cannot replace humans in many customer interactions - from complex information requests to issues of judgement. The best way to think of AI, or technology in general, is as a human augmenter rather than as a human replacement.
  • Posted on: 01/07/2022

    Will 2022 be the year of text-to-shop?

    There are multiple ways for customers to shop, and technology is enabling creative retailers to find new models for customer/retailer interaction. A text-to-shop model might work for most commodity goods purchasing, like a pound of sugar or replacement ink cartridges. But for any products which are personal, require evaluation, or even just seeing, I don't see how this could provide a compelling sales process.
  • Posted on: 12/30/2021

    How to escape your comfort zone

    One cannot underestimate the impact of environment on creative thinking, or even just plain thinking in general. As a leader, one has a responsibility for the culture and risk-aversion of your group. It is not sufficient to gather ideas, strategies, and feedback from your group, from which you will make enlightened decisions. You must create an environment that values and encourages creative ideation, and constantly ask "if we were starting X today, how would you build it now?"
  • Posted on: 12/21/2021

    Is showrooming still a concern?

    While "showrooming" continues to be a phenomenon for certain retailers and shoppers, there is a reverse pattern that we are seeing - the online researching of products and prices before going to a local store to "experience" the product. Clever retailers are leveraging the online channel as the "new front door to the store" and creating value-added elements to in-store shopping to differentiate from the hands-off, customer-serviceless online shopping experience.
  • Posted on: 12/20/2021

    Will localized e-commerce work for malls?

    There are many dimensions to competition in retail - price, quality, customer service, etc. The e-commerce giants have been gaining market share by making online shopping easier and more convenient than "going to the mall." It was a competitive advantage that has been beyond the means - financial, IT sophistication, and marketing - of local retailers. Creating "local online marketplaces" effectively levels the playing field, giving even small retailers an online presence. It also can return the competition to dimensions in which local has an advantage - customer service, proximity, the shopping experience, etc. The key will be making the online component augment the personal experience, not just an additional e-commerce option.
  • Posted on: 12/16/2021

    Do farmers markets need to be reinvented for the digital age?

    I don't see the farmers market going away, but I do anticipate that many farms will add an online sales channel to their business model. Many of them (where I live) have already set up stores at the edge of the farms, in addition to selling at farmers markets, selling to combines and co-ops, via farm-to-table restaurants, etc. There are also different kinds of e-commerce platforms that provide a "shop the vendor" experience instead of the standard product-centric user interface. This can allow shoppers to browse a vendor's wares, ask questions, ask for custom order products, and fill up their basket at that specific farm's online store. And with increasing consumer comfort with BOPIS and BOPAC, I can see some farms creating customer-responsive sales models that get traction and add significantly to their revenue base.
  • Posted on: 12/15/2021

    Will grocers turn to Amazon as an alternative to Instacart?

    Amazon has demonstrated the willingness and wherewithal to pursue multiple markets and strategies simultaneously. But I don't see the grocery segment as being the ideal fit for the many areas where Amazon excels. And with margins notoriously thin in grocery, there isn't much room for them to exert pressure on suppliers. In brief, I don't think it is the area where they would get the best return on their investment in dollars, effort, and time.
  • Posted on: 12/13/2021

    Is the BOPIS experience getting any better?

    Many stores have added a BOPIS dimension to their retail operations, and that's good. However it is often implemented in an ad hoc, afterthought-like manner. Consumer expectations will eventually convince many stores to make BOPIS (and BOPAC) an actual strategic element of store operations, fully integrated with store planning, staffing and operational management. Yes, real-time inventory and effective messaging (probably SMS) will need to be in place. But software is the easy part. The real challenge will be getting strategic planners, operations manager, and staff to overcome the inertial resistance to change and recognize the importance of this dimension of customer service and satisfaction.
  • Posted on: 12/08/2021

    Will DoorDash win the ultra-fast delivery race?

    Agreed, Peter. "Ultra-fast" delivery sounds like a premium service until we recognize that pizza delivery has been "ultra-fast" and free for decades.
  • Posted on: 12/08/2021

    Will DoorDash win the ultra-fast delivery race?

    DoorDash's "ultra-fast" offering is a compelling approach to last-mile delivery. It's too early to say if it's sufficient to give them the edge in a dynamically evolving part of the retail ecosystem. We can almost certainly expect others to find ways to respond in the short-term. In the long-term, I expect to see business models and technology evolve to democratize delivery service and cost, owing to the availability of car/truck/van owners willing create a side-hustle of performing delivery services. This scenario will be possible when a platform company is able to offer order management and logistics planning a la UPS in a SaaS format at the community or neighborhood scale. It's coming. Until then, many retailers and restaurateurs are paying a hefty percentage of revenues to last-mile delivery services.
  • Posted on: 12/02/2021

    Is Amazon gouging its marketplace sellers?

    Amazon has always been a tough negotiator with their suppliers and vendors. Like all competitive businesses, they will test the cost/benefit equation of their business model and optimize their profitability curve. Until there is a meaningful competitor to the service and marketplace they offer, they will be able to dictate the terms of engagement.
  • Posted on: 12/01/2021

    Did Cyber Monday hit its peak in 2020?

    There are probably two (at least!) factors that impacted this year's Cyber Monday sales figures. The first is a general sense of social unsettledness - from the pandemic, the economy, politics, etc. - which may be discouraging robust consumer purchasing. The second, which is probably a larger and longer-term force, is that e-commerce is becoming more common and not set aside for a single day. It looks like "Cyber Monday" shopping is not just for Cyber Monday anymore.
  • Posted on: 11/30/2021

    Is Small Business Saturday losing steam?

    I don't believe that either "small business" or "shop local" concepts are losing steam. However, the pace of technology and the social consequence of COVID-related social concerns definitely give a temporary advantage to larger and internet-enabled retailers. In the long-term, the costs and advantages of technology drop dramatically and become widely democratized. The early mainframe computers being a perfect example of technology being initially beyond the reach of small businesses, but ultimately computer technology has become cheap and pervasive. As big data, AI, high-bandwidth connectivity, and augmented reality become nearly universal, small and local retailers will develop business models that leverage their dimensions of competitive strength: personalization, customer service, proximity, relationships, etc. This won't end the competition between large and small. It will just continue to evolve, with clever business minds looking for competitive advantage.

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