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: 09/12/2019

    Is Amazon Go heading for a hard stop?

    Most likely the cost to deploy hardened systems in diverse locations is a big factor in a slow if not soon to be abandoned rollout. Breakage, downtime, and troubleshooting means a skilled support team needs to be on call and ready to travel at a moments notice, or expensive teams will need to be deployed in every market. Additionally, like I've stated many times, these systems are not hard to subvert intentionally or accidentally, so undoubtedly there is a sizeable profit-eating shrinkage problem. All in all, pick and go systems are cool tech, but not necessarily business savvy, save for one factor: here again, we're focusing on Amazon, giving them ink and ... nervous competitors may be following them down the rabbit hole in an Amazon subterfuge strategy.
  • Posted on: 09/06/2019

    Whole Foods wants a hand from shoppers at checkout

    Cynthia, excellent point. It is absolutely feasible that either via consent to multiple entities or even one entity like Amazon, or via nefarious actors, extremely detailed personal info can be assembled into a profile that is irrevocable and potentially invasive or dangerous. No one can reset their biometrics.
  • Posted on: 09/06/2019

    Is virtual training better than real-life role-playing?

    VR has a lot of dubious claims, but I think this is an excellent and useful application of the technology. Everything is dependent upon how good the execution is, but if the system now, or in the future gets close to a real, real-time experience, it is a great way to "test" and train employees in a number of people-skills areas that is private and safe and allows users to lessen potential embarrassment from making mistakes. I'm ready to test it out.
  • Posted on: 09/05/2019

    Whole Foods wants a hand from shoppers at checkout

    Uhhhhhhhh. Excuse me for yawning. This is nothing. It's not a new technology and the reality about increasing checkout speed has nothing to do with shaving three to four seconds. A speedier checkout can be achieved by things like:
      More available cashiers to operate registers (often Whole Foods has lines 10 or more people deep);
    • Eliminating cashiers needing to look up item codes;
    • Cashiers with more product knowledge that don't have to ask things like "Is this bok choy?";
    • More baggers;
    • For real fast checkout... RFID, especially whole cart scanning RFID.
    Likely there is some other end game that Amazon is not disclosing, like taking ownership of the checkout device and eliminating card terminal fees or similar.
  • Posted on: 09/04/2019

    Will Walmart’s customers accept its rejection of the firearms ‘status quo’?

    Kudos to Doug McMillon and team for making a tough decision. Especially given the past tragedies, gun sales are best left to specialty retailers that hopefully will be supported with better laws on background checks and related protections. I believe removing this set of ammunition from retail sales is a solid step along that path. I stated my belief that the company should take a stand with the following comment in the recent RetailWire article titled "Walmart trains quarterly for active shooter events": "Why not remove the category from stores and send a strong message against gun violence instead of potentially profiting from it?" Interestingly, despite nothing but down votes for my comments on RetailWire, Walmart is somewhat aligned with my suggestion. Regarding the loss of revenue, Walmart has plenty of room to make up for it and the Walton family can sustain a dent in their one hundred million dollar a day income to support shoppers, associates, and the public.
  • Posted on: 09/03/2019

    Will Lowe’s score with its ‘homegating’ game plan?

    I'm sure the homegating market is a growth opportunity. A tiny one. Lowe's and other companies can chase this incremental gain or they can focus on continuous improvement to their core business. I vote for continuous improvement of their core which is something Lowe's truly needs, especially in e-commerce.
  • Posted on: 08/23/2019

    Why is Whole Foods CEO dissing plant-based meat alternatives?

    Most Whole Foods shoppers never heard of Mackey, so his opinions will have no effect. In fact, there really isn't a story there - it's just his personal opinion and no official stance from the brand. Whole Foods is a sell-out so, of course, they will sell what makes money, otherwise explain how Cheerios made it to the shelves of our local Whole Foods store.
  • Posted on: 08/16/2019

    Can Jill Soltau rebuild J.C. Penney?

    Interesting progress but I believe that ultimately it’s futile. I think management is going to hit the wall once it achieves what are obvious fixes. There is no brand appeal. The company has had such a muddled last two decades that the shoppers it needs most have moved on permanently. The stores need expensive makeovers. The web site is average. The shoppers I’ve seen in my local J.C. Penney appear(?) to be in a lower financial tier and are not going to be thredUP customers. Bottom line: it seems like Jill and her team are making progress in a maze that has no way out.
  • Posted on: 08/13/2019

    Grocers develop their own tech responses to Amazon Go

    Certainly these technologies create a far better experience for consumers than exists today and they will continue to develop and deploy. One point I'll make that is never talked about is shrinkage. These systems are far from perfect and through their own errors can increase shrinkage measurably. That cost and the cost of deployment will be paid for by consumers. So grab and go technologies are a great convenience, but not really a free benefit for users.
  • Posted on: 08/12/2019

    Nike to marry predictive analytics and RFID to optimize inventory performance

    In theory, this is absolutely the way to go and the future of effective inventory/merchandising, so in time it will be interesting to see how well this works. And yes, RFID is a necessary component of real-time inventory management.
  • Posted on: 08/09/2019

    Amazon adds personal shopping to Prime Wardrobe

    It's worth a try. I see it as one other tool in Amazon's arsenal, but I doubt it will add much revenue nor steal away too many Stitch Fix clients.
  • Posted on: 08/08/2019

    Whole Foods gets serious about partying

    Subterfuge. Whole Foods has a lot of problems, most of which existed prior to Amazon's acquisition, yet Amazon has failed to resolve them. Order To Shelf is a big one and their SKU for SKU excessive pricing (compared to competitors) is another. Instead of fixing core problems, they seem to think this will distract shoppers from seeing the Whole Foods Emperor as it really is. It won't. This will drive little traffic, add little to the bottom line, and just defer addressing the real issues for even longer.
  • Posted on: 08/07/2019

    Walmart trains quarterly for active shooter events

    It's unfortunate that in 2019 Americans are suffering from this absurdity and the racism that seemingly is the fuel for it. Since it's our reality though, it's obviously great that for the sake of customers and employees, Walmart is offering training that one day may save lives. But the corporate hypocrisy has to be called out. They are a major gun seller and, although they seem to have better than average purchase requirements, any one of those guns may one day kill innocent shoppers. Why not remove the category from stores and send a strong message against gun violence instead of potentially profiting from it? Employees seem to agree and are staging a walkout this afternoon.
  • Posted on: 07/17/2019

    Alexa – Are Americans ready to shop by voice?

    "It is WAY past time for retailers to apply retail common sense to the digital world." Spot on!
  • Posted on: 07/17/2019

    Alexa – Are Americans ready to shop by voice?

    For transparency: I did not read the report in order to reply to your comment -- I read the summary article that you linked to. I can't speak for what you think, but it seems like from your history of views about the store being pretty much the whole ball of wax for consumer commerce, most anything else is secondary or invalid to you. I see the balance of consumer-driven technology and human to human interaction and each having a leading role in specific contexts. You did listen to the recent BrainTrust Live! I did with Georgeanne Bender and heard me say essentially that. Regarding opinions, you've injected many in your comment without facts, especially "yet another opinion on how no one wants to go to a store, wants everything predicted by AI and the future is only digital" which I didn't say or imply.

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