Ken Cassar

Vice President, Research, Shoptalk
Ken is the VP, Research at Shoptalk, where he creates original Shoptalk content to be presented on stage at Shoptalk and Groceryshop events.
  • Posted on: 10/17/2019

    Is e-grocery less convenient than shopping in stores?

    Convenience can be defined by the equation (time spent * physical effort expended * ability to have it when you need it). Online grocery shopping today takes significantly less time and effort than a trip to the grocery store, even for a first timer. And grocers are getting better at getting my order to me when I need it. Habits take time to change, but trust the math in the long run.
  • Posted on: 10/08/2019

    Walmart sells ModCloth, seeks Jetblack spinoff and cuts Bonobos jobs

    After a three year period of aggressive digital acquisitive-ness, Walmart is clearly taking stock, divesting of some acquisitions and scaling back others. What we don't see is where they're doubling down, where employees have been integrated into the mothership, what lessons they've learned, and what habits they've changed. No aggressively acquiring company bats a thousand. But if Walmart had been idle, we can be fairly confident that its stock price would not be up 59 percent since its acquisition of Jet, compared with 33 percent for the S&P 500 over the same period.
  • Posted on: 10/08/2019

    Are legacy CPG brands just naturally digitally-challenged?

    The biggest challenge that big CPGs face in becoming digitally enabled is that of internal incentives for leaders: For an ambitious person that hopes to push the envelope in a big CPG company, there is too much risk for leading an effort that fails and too little upside for one that succeeds.
  • Posted on: 08/13/2019

    Grocers develop their own tech responses to Amazon Go

    I had taken for granted the pain of checkout until I shopped an Amazon Go store for the first time. There is no question in my mind, after that one shopping experience, that this is the way of the future, and that it will accelerate the culling of the retail herd. This is something hard, and expensive, that all retailers will need to do well.
  • Posted on: 07/25/2019

    Has Amazon ‘destroyed the retail industry’ in the U.S.?

    Amazon has not destroyed U.S. retail, quite the contrary. It has put it at the forefront of retail globally, destroying individual retailers that were over-leveraged or unable to compete for other reasons. However, that doesn't mean that Amazon's power in the market doesn't need to be checked.
  • Posted on: 07/22/2019

    Is Amazon’s deal with indie brands a Faustian bargain?

    This sounds very much like a modern take on indentured servitude to me. Maybe there is some fine print in the agreement that makes this make sense, but as reported it is a terrible deal for these merchants.
  • Posted on: 07/12/2019

    Are cloud kitchens the next evolution of food delivery?

    The U.S. online restaurant delivery market is estimated at $20+ billion by 2023, and online services like Yelp attract millions of people looking for restaurants. I find it entirely plausible that this virtual restaurant model can work. Working in midtown Manhattan, I see dozens of lunch restaurants that undoubtedly pay enormous rents, that are deserted 22 hours a day. Restaurants would simply swap rent expense for marketing expense, and might find that they come out ahead.
  • Posted on: 07/01/2019

    Will a new BOPIS option boost Amazon’s results?

    Retail (and business and life, more broadly) is not always a zero sum game and Counter is a perfect example. Rite Aid needs store traffic, Amazon needs to expand its brick-and-mortar footprint, and has realized that acquisitions of retail chains can be painful (Whole Foods).
  • Posted on: 06/27/2019

    Are D2C brands reinventing Walmart or vice-versa?

    I fundamentally reject the premise that online-only retail cannot work. I agree that there is a limit to how big companies can get without stores, but we all ought to appreciate that a healthy retail economy includes healthy small to medium sized players going after targeted niches as well as large players going after the mass market.
  • Posted on: 06/21/2019

    Does experiential retailing play better on the Great, White Way?

    I think that this a great move for Krispy Kreme. Having worked in Times Square for years, I can attest to the fact that there are many, many, many tourists that lumber around looking for something to do after they've taken in the billboards and spotted the New Years Eve ball. Experiential isn't the right play in every retail environment, but Times Square is certainly the poster-child for it.
  • 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.

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