PROFILE

Ken Cassar

Vice President, Principal Analyst, Rakuten Intelligence
Ken Cassar is the principal analyst at Rakuten Intelligence where he oversees the firm's research agenda, identifying and contextualizing e-commerce industry trends from Rakuten's panel of 4 million U.S. online consumers. Ken brings a rich online retail background to Rakuten 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: 04/10/2019

    Will Walmart clean up with its robotic workforce?

    If Walmart used robots to only improve its in-stock inventory tracking it could be a gigantic win. 50 percent of Walmart's online volume now is being picked from store inventory, between click and carry and store-based delivery, but inventory uncertainty can dramatically hamper the effectiveness of those offerings.
  • Posted on: 03/11/2019

    Will other cities follow Philly in banning cashless stores?

    The U.S. is so far behind the rest of the world in consumer technologies that we can't let an imagined issue of income-based inaccessibility slow us down. If we followed Philly's reasoning nationally, we'd not have e-commerce, where cash isn't a viable option.
  • Posted on: 02/26/2019

    Will a curated marketplace strategy be an online game changer for Target?

    I love this move from Target. Rather than parroting Amazon, they are leveraging their historic strength of merchandise curation. The role of merchant as curator is threatened by Amazon’s algorithmicaly driven merchandising strategy. This might be right for Amazon, but certainly isn’t the right move for all retailers.
  • Posted on: 11/30/2018

    What will it take for retailers to win the last-mile race for customers?

    I think that Chris, Paula and Adrian all hit the nail on the head: How fast is fast enough is critical for retailers to understand. The answer to this question requires benchmarking against relevant competitors - something that retailers need to develop a strong interest in.
  • Posted on: 07/18/2018

    Will Kroger’s new app make customers healthier than those who shop at rivals?

    This is a great idea. A perfect illustration of how brick-and-mortar retailers should be thinking about digital -- it's not just about e-commerce. Digital affords retailers and brands the opportunity to engage with consumers in meaningful ways. Most people won't use this, of course, because most people don't think deeply about eating healthfully. But for those that do, this could help tip them, in the long run, toward choosing Kroger.
  • Posted on: 06/18/2018

    Is Amazon killing Barnes & Noble’s chances for a turnaround?

    In the book retailing business, there are two models that work: There is a place for local shops owned and operated by authentic, real people that love books and love talking to people about books (ideally, they have a friendly dog sleeping in the corner of the store). And there is a need for a big, faceless, mass market conglomerate that has everything for everyone, conveniently accessible with great prices. Barnes & Noble, as a chain, can never be the first and it will never be better than Amazon at the second.
  • Posted on: 06/14/2018

    Do retailers need RFID to do BOPIS right?

    Inaccurate in-store inventory is the single biggest problem hampering retailers' execution of click and carry (BOPIS), which is the most important initiative that promises to drive retailers' online efforts toward profitability. I can't say whether RFID is the best approach, or if the drones and robots that some retailers are experimenting with represent a better one or if there is something else on the horizon. But there is no doubt that solving the "I don't really know what's in my store" problem that plagues retail is necessary.
  • Posted on: 05/24/2018

    Kroger to become meal kit force with Home Chef deal

    Kroger's acquisition of Home Chef makes a lot of sense. Home Chef seems to have found a sustainable mail-order business, but making meal kits available in Kroger stores will adds significantly more potential to the business. In today's world, with long work hours and busy family schedules, last minute meal planning is the norm.
  • Posted on: 05/16/2018

    Will Target Restock undercut Amazon’s Prime Pantry?

    I've always seen Prime Pantry and competitors' responses to it as a solution to brand problems, not a solution for consumers. It will never make sense to have a single bottle of Lysol shipped to consumers, but consumers only need a single bottle at a time. Prime Pantry (and Target Restock) are creating an opportunity for consumers to fill a box with these sorts of items that makes economic sense. But as a consumer, I've never thought, "Jeez, Ken, I'd really like to have a box filled with shelf-stable CPG items tomorrow."
  • Posted on: 04/27/2018

    Is $119 too much to pay for an Amazon Prime membership?

    At $119 per year, Prime Membership is still a no-brainer. With the $20 price increase, Amazon is mostly charging for its dramatic improvement in membership benefits over the past year. But I think that there is also an acknowledgement that the retail business may be shifting out of hyper growth mode into just "regular growth" mode. The most interesting, undiscussed number in Amazon's Q1 earnings is the 13 percent growth rate of online stores, down from 17 percent in Q4 and 22 percent in Q3.
  • Posted on: 03/30/2018

    Former Walmart U.S. CEO raises prospect of breaking up Amazon

    Trump's attacks on Amazon are entirely about Jeff Bezos' ownership of the Washington Post. He is flat out wrong when he says that Amazon isn't paying sales tax. He is flat out wrong in saying that Amazon has anything other than a positive impact on the USPS' bottom line. But we should all share Bill Simon's concern that Amazon's "market share sans margins" approach is a long-term danger not just to competitors, but to the consumer. I consider myself a good capitalist, but I do believe that the ultimate outcome of unregulated competition is monopoly, which is only to the advantage of the monopolist.
  • Posted on: 03/16/2018

    Amazon/Whole Foods planning store pickup service from third-party retailers

    Amazon has clearly recognized that its biggest (only?) competitive disadvantage is a lack of stores. Allowing in-store pickup of online Whole Foods orders is a no-brainer. Using these pickup spots as locations at which shoppers can get orders from other retailers is classic Amazon (see Keith Anderson's comments). Layer onto that the likelihood that Amazon will strike deals with other brick-and-mortar retailers, like Kohl's, to turn their stores into pickup locations for Amazon or retailers that Amazon is partnered with and you've got an Amazonian trifecta.
  • Posted on: 03/06/2018

    Will all retailers soon go cashier-less?

    It seems inevitable to me that the cashier largely goes away in the long run. In addition to Amazon Go and folks like AiFi, we already see widespread use of self checkout and mobile scan and go technology. The implications on trip behaviors are very interesting; if a shopper can get in and out of the store without friction, we could see a higher number of smaller trips in an average week, which could radically reshape the grocery industry.
  • Posted on: 03/02/2018

    Will automation make retail teams less efficient?

    The closing line in this article is the key point. Organizations need to be reorganized around automation. When the chainsaw came around, logging companies needed to reallocate resources from cutting trees down to stripping bark and planing boards. Costs of lumber dropped and more people could afford to build homes, which expanded the industry and jobs in the industry. Automation is scary and requires adaptation across the organization, but I don't know of a historical instance where automation didn't lead to greater opportunity at the macro level.
  • Posted on: 02/26/2018

    What do shoppers want most?

    Convenience is most likely to move the needle today. Make the shopper's life easier and you will be rewarded: Online ordering with in-store pickup that doesn't make her get out of the car, meal kit boxes, mobile pay, etc. Consumers are increasingly trying to reclaim their time.

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