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: 06/14/2019

    Amazon taps AI to drive fashion recommendations

    Machine learning from image training sets is not new. Whether Amazon has made real improvements that will allow it to train more accurately is an unknown, awaiting user feedback. All of digital commerce is ultimately going this way. For example, someone that is digging a hole and snaps the shovel handle will be able to use a camera to capture the product and also say "How soon can I get a shovel like this for under $25.00 delivered to me?" Anyone that steps back and looks at all the pieces in play today can see that coming sooner than later.
  • Posted on: 06/13/2019

    Will same-day delivery flexibility give Target an edge over Amazon and Walmart?

    I fail to see the big deal here. There's a huge difference between free same day shipping (even with a minimum purchase threshold) and $9.99 same day shipping. Very few people who shop Target are going to take advantage of this program. In those instances where there is some item they absolutely need right away and can't get to the store, they'll go for it. Otherwise, they'll accept the regular shipping options or choose BOPIS where same-day availability for in-store items is the industry standard. So unless anything on target.com will be available same-day in-store, this seems like little more than a lesson learned from Amazon on how to spin relatively nothing into press hype.
  • Posted on: 06/12/2019

    What does FedEx’s break with Amazon mean?

    Given the small amount of revenue Amazon represents and the general hassles associated with earning that revenue, this is a bold and smart move by FedEx. Not being Amazon's bootlicker will allow FedEx to maintain control of its business as it sees fit and build closer partnerships with others.
  • Posted on: 06/11/2019

    Will a credit builder program create a new legion of loyal Amazon shoppers?

    As Prime approaches saturation and Whole Foods looks like a quagmire of no real benefit so far, building better rapport/loyalty with the other end of the market is a logical growth strategy. I'd like to understand how the card "cannot be used for purchases made from Amazon" yet "Members will also gain access to five percent cash back on orders placed on the e-tailer’s site?"
  • Posted on: 06/10/2019

    Who still thinks one-size-fits-all mannequins make sense?

    Kudos to Nike and all that are installing plus-sized mannequins. The International Journal of Fashion Design published a study stating that the average American woman wears between a Misses size 16–18 clothing. That needs to be reflected in-stores if retailers really expect shoppers to feel a connection to them. Creating displays of utopian ideals like was done in the 1950s does not resonate with many people in this era. Additionally, a mix of mannequins of all sizes/shapes and when appropriate, ethnicities, sends an important message to children about inclusion.
  • Posted on: 05/29/2019

    Amazon to set small suppliers adrift

    The real lesson here is for all the Amazon fanboy pundits. They've believed everyone should capitulate and hitch themselves to Amazon's wagon because not doing so would spell doom. This is yet another data point that Amazon is out for Amazon only and any olive branch it seems to extend to others is only fleeting until Amazon chooses to turn on them. One day it will happen to those who think they are too big for Amazon to do them the same way.
  • Posted on: 05/20/2019

    Just how big is Amazon’s ethics challenge?

    "Axios said its study 'reveals Americans are torn between the ethical side-effects and the elevated Prime lifestyle they’ve grown accustomed to...'" That's it in a nutshell. People say one thing and do another. They want to be all ethical and support others, but look at the net-net. Convenience and/or savings is still more important or Amazon would not have around 50 percent of e-commerce sales.
  • Posted on: 05/14/2019

    Did Walmart just one-up Amazon on next day deliveries?

    Doug, you are entitled to shop any way that you like, but e-commerce is mainstream and standard whether you believe it or not. Reinterpreting my comments to something about margins is out of context and won't change that fact. Every purveyor makes their own choices by which channels they sell and at what margins. Sears and others built substantial businesses more than a century ago on catalog sales. The internet is the mainstream catalog of contemporary times. Amazon did not pioneer e-commerce (in fact, Sears blew their chance to be Amazon), and you give Amazon far too much credit in determining what other businesses do and how they profit trying to keep up. Amazon is outcompeted constantly by online-only businesses that know how to attract and maintain sales by defining their market and value proposition in a way that suits their customers. You can claim that all or a significant number are eroding profits chasing Amazon's tactics (some are), but where's the data?
  • Posted on: 05/14/2019

    Did Walmart just one-up Amazon on next day deliveries?

    Buying online is a premium service? Maybe in 1999 I would have accepted that statement. Sorry Doug, it has been a standard practice for well over a decade.
  • Posted on: 05/14/2019

    Did Walmart just one-up Amazon on next day deliveries?

    Likely this has been in the works for a while. Although it always feels like Marc Lore wants to stick it to Jeff Bezos in any way possible, this is too much of a commitment to have been knocked together just as a response to Amazon's move. The devil is in the details regarding how good this program will really be. "...eligible items come from a single fulfillment center located closest to the customer." How many "eligible items" is unknown and will determine if this is just headline fodder or a real program. As the Amazon/Walmart duopoly pulls away from the pack and consumer expectations morph from two-day to next-day deliveries, Macy's, Nordstrom, Target, et al, will have to bite the bullet and go that direction too. My concern is for the smaller retailers, mid-size to mom-and-pop that financially and logistically can't go there. If they haven't already, they really, really will have to position their brand and value add so that shipping (and probably price too) is not the reason for shoppers to support them. Or else ...
  • Posted on: 05/13/2019

    Petco opens in-store kitchen for pets

    Strategically, this is a brilliant idea -- shoppers will get sucked into the concept of chefs cooking high-grade food for their beloved pets and feel that by making a purchase, they are doing something special for their little friend. I looked at the food a couple of weeks ago in our local store. It's an absolute gimmick. Rice and pasta are NOT quality pet food ingredients, even the Petco employee that asked if I need help said so when I pointed out what I was seeing. "A team of in-house veterinarians" is nothing more than marketing spin. I have deep experience in this area (surprising but true) and know that most vets are inept at animal nutrition. I do not believe any vet working for a corporation has even a field practitioner's level of knowledge of real nutrition which is borne out by the ingredients. So for the animal's sake -- this is not good. Long term: $6-$12 for a meal is not going to be a sustainable business when so many people are looking for the biggest/cheapest bag of kibble.
  • Posted on: 05/10/2019

    Is anyone going to buy Sears’ rebranding?

    Credit to the agency that grabbed some of Eddie's money for coming up with the logo and tag line. That's the only positive thing I can say about this folly.
  • Posted on: 05/02/2019

    Walgreens is training pharmacists to tackle mental health, opioid emergencies

    I'm all for new business opportunities, but this reeks of big liability issues. I can't help but feel this is going to be an "I told you so" moment in the making. What's going to happen when a pharmacist intervenes and falls short of determining someone has a mental health issue or addiction and hurts themselves or others? What about when someone doesn't have an issue and a "do-good" pharmacist tells them or a family member that they believe they do? There are professionals in mental health and addiction with far more extensive training and field experience than a pharmacist is ever going to have with some coursework. Walgreens needs to leave this to them and focus this energy/investment on customer experience.
  • Posted on: 05/01/2019

    Are smartphones making sales associates obsolete?

    First, I'm skeptical of any "research" paid for by a third party -- it tends to find results that match that party's objectives. That said, this is the direction things are headed, albeit probably at more conservative numbers. This topic is not unlike other recent RetailWire discussions about virtual assistants and in-store AI applications. The technology is there, it's not going away, and most importantly, consumers are more and more accepting of it and embracing it IF it helps their customer experience. I absolutely see the benefit to getting first-line info and product reviews via a self-serve digital platform. So often there aren't associates around and when there is one, so often it's hit or miss as to what their product knowledge is. I'm a believer in technology to handle the initial consumer data gathering experience, supplemented by experienced/knowledgeable/well-paid associates. That model is feasible because, after the technology investment (which is fast becoming table stakes), less staff at career-sustaining salaries is workable.
  • Posted on: 04/29/2019

    Walmart’s Intelligent Retail Lab store runs on AI

    I applaud Walmart for taking this on. Not unlike last week's "AI-powered, voice-capable chatbot helps shoppers make the right choice in stores" discussion, this too is the future of retailing. Not the near future. This is a lab funded by Walmart and thus can support the expense and effort to determine the value of such a store, the challenges to run/scale it, and the costs. A decade or so from now, no one will be disputing the prevalence of AI anymore (probably still the invasiveness though) and the thought of most retailers having some form of "intelligent stores" will be as mundane as most people having mobile devices. From now until then, there will be a long and treacherous journey and the end result (there never really is an end) won't be anything like this prototype. So for the naysayers, you can argue against it, you can dismiss it, but the genie is out of the bottle and it will never go back in, no matter how poetic the old days of human-only stores seem.

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