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: 01/20/2022

    Will Meijer’s free grocery delivery gesture be rewarded by customers?

    Essentially, this is a proof of concept. It's positioned in a way that if they drop it when there's a little more normalcy to the shopping routine, it won't seem like a retreat, so Kudos to Meijer's for giving it a try.
  • Posted on: 01/19/2022

    Are retailers’ returns concerns coming to a holiday head?

    Omnichannel retailers with physical presences can find ways to incentivize return-to-store as the primary return path. They can also carefully frame return requirements to still give a broad policy but create better guardrails that align with reduced processing costs. An example is the extend holiday return window. Is it really necessary? It is especially problematic for seasonal items, including clothing and to me an unnecessary perk that likely gains little on the sales side and detracts more in operating expense. E-commerce only sellers have more challenges, but I can't think of any I've purchased from that offer free returns, so the return shipping cost is a built-in throttle against over purchasing.
  • Posted on: 01/18/2022

    Are retailers getting closer to nailing last-mile delivery?

    I agree with Michael La Kier. 99 percent? Sure local businesses like hardware stores and mom and pop groceries offered local delivery ages ago. That went away and food delivery arose. But nowadays, there is a massive chasm between food delivery and large retailers offering local delivery that will swallow most small/local retailers' delivery ambitions. So a survey claiming 99 percent last-mile delivery is highly suspect unless it means that 99 percent of retailers dream of local delivery by 2025.
  • Posted on: 12/21/2021

    Is showrooming still a concern?

    All the VR type technologies that exist or will exist can never replicate experiencing real products. Even before the e-commerce boom, stores like Brookstone understood that and made most items accessible to be tried. Combating showrooming will always be a challenge because people research features and price on line, but still want a sensory experience with some products before committing to buy. The opportunity is to capture shoppers in-store, before they leave for an online sale. Today, stores are far better situated to do so than in 2010 with better logistics and for many, one to two day delivery capabilities. Price, convenience, rapid delivery, and easy returns are the ingredients to block the Amazons of the world, especially since Amazon is often devoid of a price advantage. Really bringing e-commerce ease to in-store experiences is the one thing online only retailers will never have. So showrooming really can be minimized for retailers that want to work at it.
  • Posted on: 12/20/2021

    Will localized e-commerce work for malls?

    No matter how I try to look at this differently, it keeps coming across as another last gasp effort. I remember "going shopping" at the mall as a mix of specific needs and discovery or, a complete discovery trip. This seems like an acknowledgement that malls are losing and here's a slight of hand to include them in what is otherwise business taken over by ecommerce. I think they have nothing to lose by giving this a try, but I don't expect any measurable positive impact.
  • Posted on: 11/23/2021

    Mob thefts rock retail. What can stores do?

    California thefts are a reflection of Prop 47 that essentially makes shoplifting merchandise under $950 a misdemeanor and one that police/prosecutors are seemingly reluctant to pursue. So there is a clear signal to those open to violating the law, to give it a try. It looks like that mentality snowballs into organized throngs of petty criminals. Maybe I'm too radical in my thinking, but as a retail chain, I would make it clear to communities that are creating or at least enhancing the possibility of looting by not pursuing it with appropriate laws/policing, that we will close stores and focus our physical footprint in safer communities. Wishing that local leadership does something and spreading the cost of losses across all locations are both failed strategies retailers need to avoid. Unfortunately, honest shoppers and employees suffer, but as these crimes escalate, they are in harm's way by being present.
  • Posted on: 11/22/2021

    Should Macy’s de-omnify?

    It's a little surprising that Macy's was so quick to respond to this request. If they split, I'm quite confident that many more stores will close.
  • Posted on: 10/28/2021

    Will high food costs cost restaurants business?

    First: inflationary price predictions are predicated on models some of which, particularly the federal government's, are based upon questionable data and politics. There's a good likelihood that price increases will be significantly higher than stated. For this discussion, it's not a one-to-one comparison. When going out there additional hidden costs, such as the cost of transportation and sometimes parking. Fuel prices are going up and shortages may make them jump quickly. Less economic power may cause hesitancy when diners consider that gratuities will rise as well. As each compounding factor gets considered, there is a good likelihood that more people will eat at home more often.
  • Posted on: 10/27/2021

    What should retailers do about angry reviews?

    Canned responses by brands such as "We're sorry that you were disappointed... we will share your comments..." are just as worthless as poorly-focused/angry reviews. The best solution is to either individually respond to each review, individually respond to each review with an X star rating or lower, or not respond at all. Going through the motions to appear attentive fools no one, exacerbates the original commenter's feelings, and potentially turns off other customers. Essentially, the same kind of policy as is applied to successful social media engagements. The worst I've seen is where the brand replies in an argumentative fashion, as if someone's ego is at stake, which really turns off swaths of people.
  • Posted on: 10/26/2021

    Can retailers wean consumers off discounts this holiday season?

    Discounts are a shell game that each retailer approaches differently to make it appear like shoppers are getting better deals than often they truly are. They'll still do that, regardless of shortages. Look at Bed Bath & Beyond. Endless coupons despite claiming they would stop the practice, because they've conditioned customers to expect them. Without coupons, they are largely not price competitive. So the premise of a discount is just psychology and barely a bona fide deal.
  • Posted on: 10/25/2021

    Walmart says Amazon’s grocery delivery fee will put a ‘Whole’ in customers’ wallets

    This is a great exercise for Walmart's marketing folks to prove they are coming up with ideas. After that, it's going to have practically zero effect.
  • Posted on: 10/01/2021

    Can ‘gain language’ persuade more consumers to go green?

    Positivity is a great trait. The risk is brands missing the point and adulterating positivity into green washing.
  • Posted on: 09/30/2021

    Last-mile costs keep piling up

    This was a deferred problem that's finally come to light in the guise of inflation, pandemic driven employment, and supply chain issues. Regardless, e-commerce is going to slow--at least slow its growth rate, as the honeymoon around free shipping closes. The windfall brick and mortar has hoped for is coming, but the net net won't amount to much as online sales are impacted.
  • Posted on: 09/28/2021

    Whole Foods goes from free to $10 grocery delivery fee for Amazon Prime members

    We discussed this when the pilot launched. Essentially, this is in line with everything Amazon has done to date in it's march initially to profitability and now to greater profitability. I don't see this working for Whole Foods though. It's essentially a decision to pigeonhole delivery and stymie growth outside of stores. There's too many options for mainstream consumers beyond Whole Foods for them to accept this. The Amazon acquisition was never good for Whole Foods AND it's shoppers. It was and still is smoke and mirrors. Amazon gets access to a good demographic for other purposes and that's where it ends.
  • Posted on: 09/27/2021

    Will reducing seasonal hires pose a big risk for Target?

    This is a good move. Initially, there may be staff shortages and scheduling snafus, but it's a great opportunity to learn and invest in the future. This is a fundamental recognition of a problem retail faces that we've discussed many times: retaining employees. By giving regular staff more earning potential and job satisfaction, it instills brand ownership that won't happen with seasonal employees. It seems that this strategy coupled with the other efforts Target is making, in my view, puts Target far ahead of competitors and retailers in other verticals that complain about staffing, then continue with business as usual.

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