PROFILE

Ken Lonyai

Consultant, Strategist, Tech Innovator, UX Evangelist

Ken is a 15 year veteran of interactive project development including some of the industry’s most unique experiential systems. His skills span the on-line world and nearly every realm of human/computer interface used by brands and retailers – mobile, interactive kiosks, experiential displays, and more. Known as the man with the miniature R&D lab in his head, when he’s not working on a client project, Ken can be found designing, tinkering, and developing some cool new experiential device in SPIA Labs.

He is a consumer engagement expert using cutting-edge, unique, and enticing brand experiences that encourage “like”, “share”, and “buy now” behaviors, as well as a creator of true consumer excitement by baking-in fun, social, and gamification actions that generate results. Focused on producing “amazing user experiences” for brands and retailers, he helps companies transform into destinations that consumers seek out and want to interact with.

Ken is a subject matter expert in user experience, most things interactive, experiential marketing, mobile app strategy/development, and digital UX/UI.

Additionally, he is a co-founder of NUI Central™, an organization to promote using natural human traits (voice, gesture, eye movement, etc.) to bi-directionally interact with smart devices.

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Perspectives (blog)

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  • Posted on: 08/10/2018

    Walmart.com to offer easier returns for marketplace purchases

    Transparency and reduced friction are always positive for customer experience. For sellers, it sounds like a benefit, but until it's in the wild for some time and they experience how efficient and favorable the system is, I'll take a wait-and-see approach. How fast will items returned to a store make it back to marketplace sellers? Once a store accepts an item, is the seller bound to the return even if the buyer damaged it? Etc...
  • Posted on: 08/09/2018

    Consortium is made-to-order for people who want customized brands

    There's a market for customization, but it has limitations such as material/process limits, viability, cost, and consumer understanding. It will be interesting to see how much traction Consortium can get and maintain over time as a profitable venture.
  • Posted on: 08/08/2018

    Report says voice commerce is all talk

    I thought this topic was well explored but since you want to split hairs: Okay, I'll accept that. We'll divide purchasing into "shopping" and "buying." There's no way in hell you can convince me that a majority of products purchased via consumer visits to a physical store is shopping and not buying. For that to be true, every grocery item purchased is an exploration of the virtues of the micro-category, tomato soup for example, as is every CPG item like paper towels or bar soap. No. It also doesn't wash for lots of other items. Just yesterday via PC, I purchased a non-chemical weedkiller that I first researched via a trusted online merchant, yet purchased from another because of a substantial discount. Home Depot has it as well, web only, so going to the store would have been fruitless. I doubt it's available on any shelf in the area. And the trusted merchant has about eight products to compare in the micro-category, I'm very certain Home Depot does not have that even online. So that was online "shopping" by your definition unless I was supposed to taste and smell the weedkiller first. A true voice assistant like the one I was involved with developing (prior to Alexa's launch) could still simplify and speed the out-of-store "shopping" experience with few compromises. Not beneficial for all categories, but for more than I think you will admit to. It takes very advanced machine learning, deep/accurate product data, and personal/secure knowledge of the user. Until Amazon and Google (there are others too) incorporate true, unbiased(!), customer-centric AI/machine learning into VUI artificial assistants and until users are trusting/comfortable, voice "shopping" utilization will be low. It's 2018, it's still a nascent technology. When the technology arrives and my 31 percent stab in the dark rings true, I'll expect my dinner from you.
  • Posted on: 08/08/2018

    Report says voice commerce is all talk

    Hmmm ... I find the web to be a very good shopping mechanism for the right products, like the recurring non-perishable food/supplement and CPG products we buy. I do not want in-store experiences for them. Unfortunately, the e-commerce merchants we use don't have a voice assistant (yet?) so rather than logging in and pulling up old orders or at one merchant a categorized list of items, we'd be able to speak a couple of sentences and be done in seconds. Far, far less frictionless than screen-based UIs which are still delivering a superior experience than driving to stores to pick up those known products, some of which are not available in stores. Ten percent of commerce online today -- that's just a point in time. You could have said less than one percent in 1999. So what does that prove? The upward trend has not stopped and is unlikely to for years to come. No one has an accurate means to predict the future especially based upon shopper polls, so your five percent voice shopping prediction is just conjecture. I'll go with the 31 percent. We'll meet in twenty years so that you can buy me dinner for my perfect prediction. ;)
  • Posted on: 08/08/2018

    Report says voice commerce is all talk

    Neil -- I'm not sure what your basis is for assessing voice shopping and if you are only gauging voice interfaces, AAs, and voice shopping by a couple of current implementations by companies with very jaded interests, because that would be a short-sighted view of the next decade or more. Alexa and Google Assistant today are very clumsy and absolutely don't leverage AI in a meaningful or convenient user-centered manner, despite Amazon fanboy pundits writing otherwise. Maybe you aren't familiar with the early days of the Internet (see my comment below), but in the '90s, similar arguments were made against the web and e-commerce and I think it has improved markedly, will continue to, and will continue to erode physical retail, despite some product categories that surely will always be best experienced in person. Also, have a look at what is being touted as a seamless commerce experience: I see it as a clunky early implementation that voice interaction would unquestionably streamline.
  • Posted on: 08/08/2018

    Report says voice commerce is all talk

    Unless you feel the need to change brands, how many times must you see or experience toilet paper, canned soup, or boxer shorts? I think many people are like me and have more fulfilling interests and time constraints of more value than shopping for what most goods are realistically (outside of hobbies or gifts): consumable necessities and mundane items. So for me and them, a couple of quick phrases to make a purchase from anywhere is potentially extremely convenient, extremely fast, and adds a lot of life value.
  • Posted on: 08/08/2018

    Amazon delivers latest Prime perk to Whole Foods’ curb

    Curbside pickup at Whole Foods is no game-changer and is, in fact, catch-up to others like Walmart that have been offering the service. As a twice-weekly Whole Foods shopper, I see firsthand that if they want to get past curious Prime shoppers and build a sustainable base, they have deeper problems. Just last week we bought the same brand, same SKU item at regular price from a competitor and saved 25 percent. It was organic but had nothing to do with the organic price myth because it was the same organic product. Instead, it was Whole Foods overcharging. Coupled with OTS (order-to-shelf) inventory problems and increased employee turnover, Prime gimmicks are not going to keep customers shopping there, a sentiment echoed colloquially by a couple of local employees we know.
  • Posted on: 08/08/2018

    Report says voice commerce is all talk

    It's déjà vu all over again. Anyone that can at least remember the Mosaic browser (there were earlier ones too) understands the tech adoption curve. I wasn't there, but it was probably the same for the sewing machine, motorcar, and TV. I think radio had a very steep curve. It's early days. I've been working with VUIs (Voice User Interfaces) and AAs (Artificial Assistants) for over six years, but I'm a tech guy and stay ahead of the curve. Most people on the street think that Apple or Amazon invented them and are still getting used to the idea. In time, this conversation will be as dated as discussing whether hydraulic brakes will ever be on all cars. At that point, voice-based shopping will be the norm (as is web browsing and mobile) including all the issues that it will bring such as:
    1. Unlike visual ads on a web page, aural ads slow down/interfere with efficiency;
    2. Paid placement and/or platform-owned brand suggestions will taint trust with AA's or shopping assistants;
    3. Those brands without their own voice platform will be even more sidelined than simply not participating in a marketplace now;
    4. The cost of promotion and concessions made to the major companies with voice platforms will be substantial.
    Brands and retailers that don't want to be caught off guard again (emphasis again!) must start developing a comprehensive commerce-focused VUI/AA strategy immediately and, in my strong opinion, develop their own platform that doesn't keep them at the mercy of a few strong players as they are now.
  • Posted on: 08/07/2018

    Fred’s amps up the treasure hunt

    Often, unconventional promotions fizzle out when the reality falls short of the vision. This is an intriguing idea easily understood by consumers that can work if Fred's gets two things right:
    1. It needs a well-curated mix of products with different perceived values that keep traffic coming at each price point throughout the week;
    2. It needs to be promoted and tested well enough and long enough to get noticed, gain traction, and sustain a viable stream of customers.
  • Posted on: 08/06/2018

    Walmart looks to automate grocery pick-up

    What happens to the fresh items that pickers don't deem good enough for pick-up orders? Dump it in the store for walk-in shoppers to rifle through?
  • Posted on: 08/06/2018

    Walmart looks to automate grocery pick-up

    The current supermarket model is well over a half-century old and is beginning to show its shortcomings in a connected "Internet-time" driven society. Change is needed and coming -- willingly or not. Alphabot is definitely one solution that will make in-store grocery pickup part of that change, but it will be beyond the reach of most grocery stores/vendors for a very long time. I see it as more of a tactic to thwart or stay in step with Amazon and if they come through, Kroger, else it probably wouldn't get the investment. On another note: "Mr. Ibbotson noted that pickup associates will spend less time walking store aisles and spend more 'ensuring customers are getting the absolute best in fresh produce, meats, etc.'” That certainly implies that Walmart is now offering lower-quality fresh products to customers among its assortment. I like tech, but before going down that road, it would be far better and egalitarian for customers if Walmart were to first improve product quality screening and offer everyone the "best in fresh produce, meats, etc.," regardless of how they purchase food, in-store and/or online, all the time.
  • Posted on: 08/02/2018

    Who in retailing’s c-suites should drive customer experience?

    There's so much I can say, but the short answer is that no CXO almost certainly means that customer experience is faulty somewhere, unless the CEO is truly customer-centric and customer engaged -- a rarity. A CMO is focused on creating brand identity, not executing on it. What I mean is that a brand is a promise and fulfilling that promise is experience. That takes an entire organization and hits every customer touch point including mundane things like logistics, inventory and pricing policy. Only someone with true authority and equal footing to challenge the CMO, CTO, CFO and, if need be, the CEO, in order to advocate for the consumer when a segment of the customer experience is failing, can create consistent long-tail delightful CX. A CMO, CIO, or CTO isn't positioned for that task and doesn't have the bandwidth to execute on it fully. Experience is the only thing that customers care about and customers deliver the revenue. Savvy brands get that and don't pigeonhole CX in the wrong place.
  • Posted on: 07/31/2018

    Walmart still trying to figure out home delivery

    Phil: explain how calling delivery a marketing expense (or anything else) covers the cost.
  • Posted on: 07/31/2018

    Walmart still trying to figure out home delivery

    I can claim an "I told you so" when I called having Walmart associates provide home delivery "a cheap and desperate move by management" in the RetailWire discussion "Can Walmart workers deliver better last mile results on their way home from work?" but I won't. Walmart has really stepped up in the last year or so, but they are playing catch-up for their many, many years of neglect. It's not so easy being a follower and trying to develop a sustainable, viable delivery system that blankets the U.S. is a massive challenge. Far-fetched concepts and poorly vetted partnerships aren't going to do it. I think there's an opportunity for a new kind of partnership with either FedEx, UPS, or DHL that leverages their delivery logistics but as a new exclusive Walmart service for same-day, last mile, and/or two-hour service. Those companies are sweating what Amazon is up to so a new joint paradigm is worth exploring. Otherwise, Walmart is going to have to drop billions into creating a real and sustainable service of its own. Regardless, without some form of subsidy stream, delivery will remain an unprofitable necessity.
  • Posted on: 07/30/2018

    Will RadioShack find new life inside HobbyTown’s stores?

    This is a good test of the market in that it's far cheaper to operate a store-within-a-store than a stand-alone location and the demographic is a great fit. If RadioShack can't make it there, they won't make it anywhere on their own again.

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