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: 02/18/2021

    Is suburban retail (malls, too) primed for a comeback?

    I wouldn't expect David Simon to portray a negative forecast when his company's future is tied to his messaging. 2020 is a non-year. It's such an exception to the prior and future reality that it needs to be assigned an asterisk and removed from analysis. Cities and suburbs will adjust a little based on the pandemic's influence, but there is not/will not be more than a minor consumer distribution change and retail stores and especially malls will continue to deal with the pre-pandemic retail to digital changes that were in play.
  • Posted on: 02/17/2021

    Should retailers just say ‘no’ to Instacart?

    This is the same old make or buy technology question retailers have faced for decades. In the past, retailers vented at Amazon's success when in reality they sat back and missed the opportunity to seize the moment and become digital destinations. Then they scrambled to do something. It's simply a business decision: take what you get with a plug-in solution--good and bad, or forgo the dependency and own the entire experience. The farther down the wrong fork in the road one goes, the more challenging it is to turn back. It's a crucial decision with impact that needs to be considered 5-10-15 years into the future, considering that the wrong choice may be fatal.
  • Posted on: 02/16/2021

    Digital gains are changing how Best Buy puts its associates to work

    We've been talking about the future role of stores for years. The shift in lifestyle from COVID-19 has accelerated the prior slow/steady growth of digital sales and stores are adjusting--good or bad. Even if the virus was gone tomorrow, stores are not going to recapture 100 percent of prior business now that COVID-19 has pushed consumers into more comfort online. How those adjustments are made and what personnel moves where (or not) is another topic. It sounds like Best Buy is creating employee friction by not sharing a vision and not keeping employee welfare front and center in their digital reorg.
  • Posted on: 02/15/2021

    Are huge marketplace seller aggregators a good thing for Amazon and retail?

    Who cares if this is good for Amazon? What matters is more opportunity for small sellers and seemingly--seemingly-- aggregators give them more sales opportunities and better fulfillment possibilities. Both of which can lead to happier current customers and influence new customers. Caution though: aggregators are not in the space to make the world a better place, so any venture with them needs prudence and due diligence as well. In fact, aggregators add another layer of rules and legal agreements that can potentially hurt profitability and growth and at an extreme, get sellers banned or restricted from Amazon and other platforms.
  • Posted on: 02/05/2021

    Are retail customers liable to sign off on liability waivers?

    By nature, I'm against invasiveness and overreaching by corporations, but as a wake-up call to be safe, I'm not too opposed to shoppers--after purchase, acknowledging the dangers of improper assembly or installation of certain products that may create potential hazards. Of course, it's the loophole corporate attorneys would drool over. And most shoppers will not put up resistance to acknowledging such notices, even though it is essentially a waiver of their rights. COVID-19 liability waivers are a complete joke. Where will that stop? What about cancer waivers from purchasing/using products with chemicals? Parking lot carjacking waivers? Fashion shaming waivers? Unfortunately, there is a sizeable group of consumers that don't question anything especially when it comes from their favorite brand or there's a financial incentive, so I see the potential for some traction for this concept.
  • Posted on: 01/22/2021

    NRF 2021: Will Lululemon ever get tired of winning?

    UCD (user-centered design) is a term bandied about by any organization that wants to convince itself that it really addresses the needs of users/customers in its design thinking and business processes. UCD is an extremely effective methodology that differs from what most organizations still do: looking at company assets and making business decisions to fit them. It seems Lululemon has stepped away from the chatter and carefully and effectively implemented real examples of the practice and their success shows. It's a great lesson for individual retailers and retail as an industry where we still see, for example, department stores trying stay relevant even though their model doesn't fit well into today's consumer's needs. A full explanation of how CX is the real driver of profitability is found here in the CX/Profitability Continuum.
  • Posted on: 01/21/2021

    What’s next for data privacy?

    In the U.S. so far, user data privacy has largely been relegated to the fox guarding the hen house, which is quite evident in Keith Enright's comments on “other values,” referenced here as including freedom of expression, competition and supporting economic growth. As much as I don't like government over-regulation, there really needs to be E.U. style federal privacy requirements, or despite claims and employees with titles, tech/commerce companies of all sizes will continue to verbalize user privacy concerns, while ever more subtly infringing upon them.
  • Posted on: 01/20/2021

    Is My Pillow being ‘cancelled’ or is its CEO trashing the business all on his own?

    Anyone that takes a strong public position on anything is at risk of backlash. When they are "ordinary citizens" protesting an injustice or perceived injustice, the backlash is essentially at a personal level but may include losing a job or having their local business boycotted, even animosity from friends/neighbors. When they are a public figure like a Colin Kaepernick, the backlash is the same, but at a larger and even more intense scale. Lindell knew the risks he was taking to himself and his business by verbalizing his positions or, if he didn't, that says volumes. There are no shortage of "miracle" pillows out there. There's no reason for merchants to put their brand at risk over one small brand that is easily replaced.
  • Posted on: 01/19/2021

    Should store associates deliver online orders?

    This is hard to fathom as a sustainable business model. How much time will an associate spend on a delivery/training/sales call? How will that impact the next delivery stops on their agenda? What if they demo something and the customer wants a variant not with them -- will they come back again? Etc...
  • Posted on: 01/18/2021

    Does a Staples/Office Depot merger now make more sense?

    In 2021, I don't see too much issue in a merger. I loathe shopping Staples due to their limited inventory in many product areas and high prices in most of the store. As one entity, Staples and Office Depot are going to have to find a value proposition that makes them a viable competitor to Amazon and execute on it amazingly, before the FTC has to worry about antitrust realities.
  • Posted on: 01/08/2021

    Should your DNA data be used to sell products?

    Most people are cooperative actors around breaching their own privacy despite anything they say in surveys. That's their choice. The real issue here are those whose DNA traits are compromised by a sloppy relative that allows enough sharing of data that other biological relatives are identified -- potentially even some who have never met. Without knowing more details about usages/partnerships, it's hard to make a judgment about that danger, but one thing is for sure: shared/accumulated/interpolated data can never be taken back, at least until the U.S. gets authentically serious about data privacy.
  • Posted on: 12/23/2020

    Was Walmart responsible for vetting opioid prescriptions?

    Elsewhere, I saw mention that Walmart discounted opioids as essentially a loss-leader to get shoppers into stores and store managers pressured pharmacists to fill prescriptions. If true, that's clearly crossing the line. I can see discounting OTC products as loss-leaders but opioids are Schedule III narcotics. Discounting those to drive business is irresponsible no matter who the dispenser is. For certain classes of drugs, this case and the national crisis indicates that there need to be price floors to take competition out of the equation for products with a high potential for abuse.
  • Posted on: 12/22/2020

    Is free at-home pick-up of online returns practicable?

    This is another episode in the clash of the titans saga. Walmart either has to eat this huge expense in a bid to get market share or sneak prices up somewhere. My guess is that they will eat it for a long while before considering making price adjustments to compensate. The cost of the logistics will be very high. The increase in returned, non-resaleable products will be high. The cost of moving returned merchandise back to retail availability will be high (if they don't choose to sell it off). Few retailers can take on such an undertaking. On the one hand, this is throwing down the gauntlet to Amazon, but moreso, I see it as an effort that is going to move e-commerce and retail farther towards a two-party system. Many chains that are barely above water and fighting Covid pressures are going to succumb if this catches on significantly. Medium players and mom and pops are really going to have to scramble to offer truly unique merchandise or palpable value-ads, else they are not going to survive this new paradigm.
  • Posted on: 12/21/2020

    Facebook and Apple battle over the internet’s future

    So that's what Facebook sour grapes smell like. Maybe if Facebook didn't abuse its data gathering/usage for all these years, things wouldn't be going in this direction. There's a little merit to their claims about ads supporting free sites, but not much. The ad revenue for the majority of mommy-blogger, cooking, and small business web sites don't account for a sizeable, reliable income, just a small revenue stream. So if that is what's holding the Internet together, a change is in the cards. Don't worry though, it's not. And -- every paradigm change creates new opportunities.
  • Posted on: 11/25/2020

    Retailers show essential workers their appreciation with promotional perks

    These types of gestures are nice to hear about given the toxic political environment leveled over the pandemic strife the country has been experiencing. I would like to see more internally oriented gestures of appreciation such as monetary bonuses for workers. It's a fantasy, but it would be the perfect year for corporations to step up and forgo profit considerations to give frontline workers meaningful bonuses. As I pointed out yesterday, in the last eight months of the pandemic, the Walton family members pocketed $63 billion while more than 14,500 Walmart staff need Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) aid. Imagine the immense good they could do if they could squeeze by on only $61 billion and spread $2 billion among their workers.

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