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: 12/06/2018

    Walmart: Floor cleaning robots will give associates more time to serve customers

    An absolute non-story. As told, the robot will free up two hours of one associate's day. That's supposed to impact customer experience? Nice job by Walmart PR getting some headlines per the Amazon playbook. BTW -- can't wait for the Instagram and YouTube videos of people hopping on the machine!
  • Posted on: 12/05/2018

    What’s next for Small Business Saturday?

    Not sure what 70 percent awareness really means -- Small Business Saturday is not something that garners many conversations. Local businesses use it as a reason to have sales and special offers/events and I believe the sales are the primary driver more than shoppers desiring to give small shop owners a break. Many people are still beholden to price and the desire for a deal anywhere they can find it. Spending was up likely because spending is relatively up across the board right now. As far as reinvention, I would advise small business owners to set their own course and not bet too heavily on this sales day unless they have created sustainable value from it already. Overall, it's too generic.
  • Posted on: 12/04/2018

    Walmart gives associates a tool to deal with out-of-stocks

    At first glance this sounds like an innovation, but all it amounts to is a mobile device accessing mobile walmart.com. Yawn. For that small minority of people that don't have their own device or don't shop online, there is some benefit. But for the majority of shoppers, I see little to gain watching an associate search a website for an item -- something they can do for themselves. Maybe there's the small advantage of not having to pay for the item in-app and then pay for other items at a register. Better: focus on minimizing the out-of-stocks.
  • Posted on: 12/03/2018

    Has Amazon figured out how to scale its Go cashier-free tech to bigger stores?

    Reporters report a lot of things and often they have little REAL knowledge of what they're talking about. Amazon may indeed be making the system work. I'm skeptical though. I've worked with the required technologies for years. There are inherent issues like shrinkage that Amazon is not going to share with reporters. And just like last week's discussion about cashless stores, app only membership shopping (that's what Go is) at this stage of society, is a failure waiting to happen. They may roll it out, it may work good enough that it becomes a distraction for competitors sending them in a flurry to compete. It may be news cycle spin. I may be wrong. We'll see.
  • Posted on: 11/29/2018

    Are retailers better off going cashless?

    I’ve been to cashless restaurants in NYC. Although it’s not a problem for me, I’m not in favor of even less anonymity regarding transaction data. More importantly, there’s absolutely a segment of society that doesn’t have the luxury of deciding on their use of tracked or anonymous payments like I do. They are simply focused on having the cash to buy food. So they are absolutely discriminated against by places that choose to go cashless. And I speculate that some cashless brands are knowingly using “cashless” to keep those people out of their stores as a form of masked discrimination that they otherwise would not be able to facilitate. Lastly, Shake Shack launched cashless kiosks without warning earlier this year to dismal failure and a quick exit. Likely, the mix of lack of prior notice to customers and bad UI design were going to be problem enough, but the disenfranchising of a segment of customers was the true death blow.
  • Posted on: 11/15/2018

    I don’t like Amazon as much as I did last week

    Props to Scott Galloway (NYU professor) for predicting this. I agreed with his analysis and logic months ago: this was nothing more than a charade to hide the fact that Bezos would pick a city (now cities) where he would want to spend time. He needs to spend time in Washington due to his paper acquisition and the need for his presence to calm congresspeople. New York is... well New York. It was never going to be Manhattan, so Queens or Newark were both equally reasonable possibilities. I guess New Jersey's massive tax capitulation still didn't compare to New York's. Cleveland, Columbus, Nashville, Indianapolis, etc., you were set up to be played before the madness was ever announced. Bezos was never moving to your cities. He knew he was playing you and that the geek turned powerbroker could push you as far as he liked. It worked. It cost you time and money and being played publicly hurts. You should be angry. Nevertheless, like almost all corporate faux pas, the public has a short memory and the anger will give way to the convenience of Prime -- something Bezos knew all along.
  • Posted on: 11/02/2018

    Walmart reimagines its big boxes as town centers

    The irony of Walmart, the brand small-town America fought against to preserve their downtowns, creating "town centers" is one step shy of troublesome. It's a reimagination of their stores, which has a lot more potential for the company than their press fodder patent filings do. Done with a bonafide customer-first mindset, it can be an enjoyable/beneficial destination for shoppers. The big unknown is how it will curate tenants and what type of environment/experience that selection will create for customers. Moreover, the question remains as to what a successful Walmart town center will do to remaining Main Street shopping districts in the places they create these mini-mall scenarios. Yeah, I can't easily get beyond the ironic piece.
  • Posted on: 11/01/2018

    Will Albertsons have robots filling online grocery orders in its stores?

    It really does not matter if there are large regional fulfillment centers or in-store micro-fulfillment centers. All that matters is getting customers what they want when they expect it in (for them) the least frictional way. After that, operational choices for the brand providing the service are a function of their business/expense/operating model.
  • Posted on: 10/31/2018

    Will Goodyear roll over rivals with new Millennial-friendly showroom concept?


    Iconic Goodyear is far from the category leader it once was, failing to fend off a range of brands that have established themselves and taken a piece of its domain, so I'm glad to see some fresh thinking and willingness to experiment. Our local store most certainly offers the same experience it did when it opened in the '50s or '60s (I wasn't around). Whether or not this concept works will come down to testing. Looking at the interior photo, I'm skeptical. There's seemingly no experience there and it looks like a fish in a barrel scenario for commissioned salespeople when a customer does not preorder online.
  • Posted on: 10/30/2018

    Why are Foot Locker and Nike sending ‘sneakerheads’ on AR scavenger hunts?

    This really not a new concept, even via AR. It's silly that brands and retailers have done so few iterations of this given that the capability has been there for nearly a decade. The benefit really goes far beyond those that participated. The buzz plus the feeling of a missed fun opportunity amongst those that didn't take part will be sustained for a long time. Hopefully, there will be follow-ups to leverage that.
  • Posted on: 10/29/2018

    What if artificial intelligence is biased?

    The myth around AI is that a neutral "machine" independently develops its own intelligence. In reality, AI and machine learning, even instances that are to a strong degree "self-educating," originate from human-derived algorithms. Humans are flawed and often from their early intervention into creating/training artificially intelligent systems, can introduce bias. I listed it as a probable issue with Amazon Scout in my article “Amazon is Scouting the Wrong Approach to Improving Product Discovery." I doubt that many AI systems anywhere are evaluating for much more than obvious bias because they are designed to enhance biased outcomes: meaning, designed to create outcomes to support a business case or need, which is a purposeful interest. Retailers do need to use AI cautiously for both bias issues that can affect and offend customers and can affect profitability via missed opportunities and wrong assumptions.
  • Posted on: 10/25/2018

    Will organic food sales soar on the latest cancer research?

    "The term “organic” unfortunately has primarily become a marketing term." Untrue. The characterization of your comments is that organic is fake. There are standards, whether they are to the level we'd like or not, that are still head and shoulders above "conventional" chemical production and as I see it and the intent of the article, with better potential health benefits.
  • Posted on: 10/25/2018

    Will organic food sales soar on the latest cancer research?

    Ian: as much as we agree on these type of issues, I find your comments misleading. "...a marketing term?" Maybe by some exploitative entities like big corporations, but there are organic standards and you know that. " ... a true measure of food quality" requires many, many, factors, organic cultivating being only one. There is no pure food source anymore. Biodynamic/regenerative is the next best thing, followed by organic. Organic is very dependent upon the farmer growing it, meaning within the approved organic amendments/treatments, it's a farmer's choice to use more or less of them. The certified organic farmer we buy from in season mostly relies on nature and manual labor, and is unofficially regenerative and about as pure as can be had in America, but can't overcome toxic rain and potential artifacts in the soil from years ago. More commercially oriented certified organic farmers are clearly less "pure." However, the least pure certified organic farm is still a safer bet than the best "conventional" farm using chemicals despite any argument non-believers want to level at me, this French or other research notwithstanding. I'm sure you are aware of that especially when organic farms cannot intentionally use a whole host of conventionally utilized deadly chemicals (in the U.S. at least) like glyphosate, atrazine, paraquat, 2,4-D, etc. So while the public might not hear about, let alone act upon, this or similar studies, they are entitled to accurate information from all sides.
  • Posted on: 10/24/2018

    Don’t shutter that store! Bricks impact clicks

    Two 800-pound gorillas not mentioned in this article: conversion and net profitability. For all the cheerleaders of brick and mortar retail, this sounds like an "I told you so" confirmation and it may be, sometimes, but without knowing conversion and net profitability as it relates to keeping stores open, there's no substance in the report. For example, keeping a store open to gain 37 percent more traffic sounds like a win unless the conversion from that 37 percent traffic and the net profitability isn't enough to offset the losses from that hemorrhaging location. If not, the store exists as a branding expense and folly for management that doesn't see that they are still tanking. Case in point, if this premise were as simple as it sounds, Macy's and Sears made big mistakes closing many hundreds of locations.
  • Posted on: 10/16/2018

    Walmart and Advance Auto Parts join forces online

    What's "a deeper assortment of auto parts?" There are generic items that a customer can expect to find at a general merchandise store, like oil, drain pans, basic tools, common light bulbs and then there are true auto parts. Even the local Advance stores (or any purveyor) do not stock enough parts to fill customers' needs and rely on their warehouse to support them either the same or next day. Unless there is a staffed counter in Walmart stores that have the same level of warehouse fulfillment support, this is a bunch of hype supported by an analyst that likely has never held an auto part in his hand. Advance is the real winner here, getting an endorsement and brand boost. Walmart I doubt will gain much, and customers in need of "auto parts" are not very likely to gain any real value.

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