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: 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.
  • Posted on: 10/15/2018

    Will anything change for Sears after Chapter 11?

    Chapter 11 probably gives the appearance of more stability and a chance at a future versus Chapter 7 (fire sale) which may matter for brand valuations as Lampert sells off Kenmore and any other remaining brand assets.
  • Posted on: 10/12/2018

    Is Amazon on the right path to improved product discovery with Scout?

    Liz - have a look at the full article I wrote here: https://kenl.me/2CH8EiI I address where I think Scout is headed and how it will overcome both the issues of visual and keyword search.
  • Posted on: 10/11/2018

    Would biometric feedback shopping carts creep out Walmart’s customers?

    Absolute journalist PR bait (learned at the knee of Amazon) and here we are discussing it. Everything except (to a limited degree) the weight-triggered function that propels the cart forward as it fills up is ridiculous and even that is too impractical to have any meaning. Touche Walmart!
  • Posted on: 10/09/2018

    Gap sends its Visa cardholders to Amazon and Target

    It seems this is Gap's final capitulation to Amazon. Moreover, this is just one step removed from mimicking Toys "R" Us' devastating relinquishment of online sales to Amazon. The message is "We know you're shopping Amazon and Target so here's an incentive that will trash our profit when you come back to redeem points before blowing us off again to return to our more effective competitors." From a string of CEO issues to digging in to e-commerce too little too late, Gap, a brand with the perfect demographic to master m/e-commerce, just can't get out of its own way and will die of desperation in a few years if this tactic and similar ones are allowed to persist.
  • Posted on: 10/08/2018

    Will a new private label keep Target’s customers out of Aldi and Dollar General?

    Aldi and even Walmart send clear messages about price. Target now sends a convoluted one. Time will tell if this resonates with shoppers or adds confusion to what the Target name represents.
  • Posted on: 10/05/2018

    Are retailers getting too political with voter registration campaigns?

    Maybe working with for-profit companies has made me jaded towards many of the things they do, but I do not believe that from their positions as CEOs, those involved are really concerned about increasing voter participation. That is -- unless they believe they can sway voters to vote in ways that fit their corporate agenda. My opinion is that the Time to Vote campaign is nothing more than a poorly veiled attempt to look like good corporate citizens. Lack of transparency and honesty always comes back to bite, so I believe these brands need to focus elsewhere and on sincere brand building efforts. At least Doug McMillon is essentially transparent in his criticisms given that most items filling Walmart's shelves come from China and that tariffs will hurt Walmart's profits.
  • Posted on: 10/04/2018

    Walmart adding plus-size women’s brand to its digital portfolio

    I must be missing something in the Walmart strategy. Buying up brands as a source of added revenue/profitability is understandable, but how when they operate independently that does anything for Walmart customer relationships is beyond me. I just do not believe there is any viable crossover from a Bonobos or Eloquii customer to Walmart or Sam's Club. I know of no one that's going to think "I need groceries, a custom tailored (Bonobos) suit with some cheap (Walmart) shoes, and my wife needs a really nice dress from Eloquii and a cheap (Walmart) purse." Shoppers will buy from their chosen source (brand) and care less that Walmart is the owner. It feels like some high up folks at Walmart are convincing themselves that this is the way to match Amazon.
  • Posted on: 09/28/2018

    What would the nation’s strictest plastic ban mean for New Jersey’s retailers?

    Neil: I would prefer to see retailers do this on their own as well (you can read my position here) but we all know that corporations taking a proactive positive community approach to any problem, especially when there is a cost, is rarer than a solar eclipse. Five-hundred million plastic straws are discarded every day in the U.S. Where did any corporation take on that problem prior to a flurry of legislative actions forcing their hand?
  • Posted on: 09/28/2018

    What would the nation’s strictest plastic ban mean for New Jersey’s retailers?

    Spending the majority of my time in the Garden State I'm all in favor of the bill. Maybe it will cut down on the occasional plastic blowing across my lawn. I really doubt that NJ (as imperfect as it is) has more of a plastic problem than elsewhere, especially NYC. Nevertheless, the plastic waste issue needs to be addressed here, across the country, and globally, so maybe this measure can be a model for other jurisdictions. I don't know who Matt Seaholm is and what his alliance is really about, but he's a bag of hot air with an agenda.
  • Posted on: 09/13/2018

    Analyst: Whole Foods’ lower price claims are mostly ‘noise’

    Stephen: not sure what your basis is, but we regularly see that SKU for SKU (exact product match) Whole Foods is as much as 20 percent to 25 percent higher than other places like Wegmans. It has nothing to do with perceived quality. We only buy organic produce and although they each have different suppliers, items with the same PLU's are priced very differently. For example, organic avocados (same PLU) Trader Joe's $1.99, Whole Foods $2.49. That's 25 percent more. At the independent market in Princeton, NJ (an upscale town) they are $2.45--that from a one-off-market vs. the scale of Amazon. Regarding produce quality, most often Wegmans is a little fresher than Whole Foods, yet the independent markets are the freshest.
  • Posted on: 09/13/2018

    Analyst: Whole Foods’ lower price claims are mostly ‘noise’

    Finally some reality. We've shopped Whole Foods twice a week for years and don't need research to know that prices have not really changed for the better. Wegmans and Trader Joe's are often 20 percent to 25 percent cheaper than Whole Foods on EXACTLY the same items. Where are all the believers now -- the ones that said Amazon's scale and logistics would bring sweeping change to benefit consumers? Nevertheless, Amazon has mastered the hype machine and the press that is too lazy to investigate on their own, so for now, they have fooled "some of the people all of the time."
  • Posted on: 09/07/2018

    Will crowdsourced service help Walmart nail the last mile of grocery deliveries?

    I've been positive about Walmart, but it's getting ever more difficult to see them that way. Testing always makes sense, but Walmart is flailing about in desperation to stay in step with Amazon. Employee deliveries on their way home from a shift? Out-of-stock claims when they don't find free delivery to be viable? Now "crowdsourced" delivery because it's cheap? Customer experience is the true differentiator for anyone that wants to be competitive against Amazon (and others) and it's measured by far more than delivery time frames. In fact, the most important measure of CX is reliability--where shoppers know what to expect EVERY time they engage a merchant, consistently. Walmart by "testing" what are mostly poorly conceived ideas misses the forest for the trees. It's really not a surprise from a company whose prime directive for decades has not been CX, but cheap prices and any strong-arm tactic to obtain them. Hey Walmart: give up every which way to try and get around Amazon and craft a meaningful set of customer experiences based on your customers and your own strategy already. Else you will always be at the mercy of Bezos, despite how much cash you have.
  • Posted on: 09/06/2018

    Will a bot soon be taking your order at the drive-thru?

    I like it. I think this is a great use of the technology. Although I haven't ordered fast food via a drive through in something like 25 years, the ordering experience, although improved, isn't stellar. It's nice to be greeted at the pick-up window with a smiling happy person, but the squawk box end of it has never been good, so the bar isn't too high for bots to meet and beat. Bots or artificial assistants do much better with limited data sets. A fast food menu is limited, even with potential variants like "hold the pickles, hold the lettuce," so interpreting customer needs will potentially be very effective. Regarding job elimination: I am not convinced that in the long run, net jobs will be preserved. As I've stated before, it's an issue society is going to have to deal with from the education system on up.
  • Posted on: 09/05/2018

    Will a new beauty concept help CVS pull shoppers from Sephora and Ulta?

    I see this as a non-starter. There isn't much of a store-within-a-store concept. Rather than a dedicated space that's a destination and has an intriguing draw, this seems like an afterthought and a "let's throw it at the wall and see what sticks" kind of endeavor. Sephora and Ulta are beauty/fragrance destinations that consumers seek out for the experience as well as the products. CVS may be able to get some play out of shoppers that are in the store for other items or picking up some eyeliner and get them a little more involved in beauty purchases, but it's hard to believe it will be anything beyond that. It takes more than some chairs, mirrors and fixtures plopped in an aisle to create an experience. Sephora, Ulta, Macy's and the like have nothing to worry about.

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