PROFILE

Ken Morris

Managing Partner Cambridge Retail Advisors

Ken was CEO and President of LakeWest Group and founder of CFT Consulting and CFT Systems, a retail software company. Earlier in his career, he held retail information technology executive positions at Lord & Taylor, Filene’s (Macy’s), Talbots, Stop & Shop Supermarket Company, and Sears. His experience is with strategy, selection development and deployment of retail management systems and processes.

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  • Posted on: 05/05/2021

    Are retailers making it too tough for seniors to shop online?

    Retailers are missing the boat if they turn their back on the demographic with the wealth that seniors have accumulated. The genie is out of the bottle with online shopping for groceries and other necessities and it's not going back in. We need to make our websites more intuitive to match the needs of this aging group. Easily modified font sizes, one-click purchase options and product substitutions are all consistent problems from site to site. The pandemic fear is not going to go away and shopping has been altered in some ways for at least a generation. We need to be prepared for the long haul and the next pandemic.
  • Posted on: 05/04/2021

    Kroger takes flight with drone delivery test

    Someday it will be viable but not today. If it looks like a gimmick, walks like one and sounds like one then it must be a gimmick. Perhaps the drone will be run down in the driveway by my autonomous Muskmobile. We have an insatiable appetite for instant gratification but this is too soon to really make sense. Maybe we should consider paying a livable wage instead of inventing new ideas on how to eliminate people.
  • Posted on: 05/03/2021

    Do retailers have to catch up to Amazon’s logistics powerhouse?

    I'm not sure retailers can compete with the depth and breadth of Amazon logistics but what they can compete and win on is their physical presence in the market. I believe a micro-fulfillment center (MFC) based around a store's physical location(s) is the best play in concentrated metro areas. A hub and spoke model with a dark store (hub) servicing all stores (spokes) in the metro area will allow for BOPAC and BOPIS that Amazon can't offer. Delivery from these spokes can be farmed out via services like Bringg. There is always a grey area to be farmed so think local physical locations.
  • Posted on: 04/30/2021

    7-Eleven spending $70M to promote the convenience of its new tech

    Herding franchise cats is extremely hard to do but 7-Eleven needs to do this to compete in an increasingly younger and tech savvy world. Services like mobile ordering are table stakes in the share of wallet going forward and 7-Eleven needs to push and prod their franchisees to play in this increasingly competitive environment.
  • Posted on: 04/28/2021

    Will immersive experiences revitalize U.S. malls?

    We did a white paper recently on this subject in "Flipping the Script - Transforming the Store to a Stage." The future of our stores needs to evolve and quickly as we exit from the biggest disruptor in our lifetimes. What better time to treat retail as theater. We need to think outside of the box like William Filene did in Boston at the turn of the century in 1900 when he created a zoo on the roof of the downtown Boston store. We need to get creative and not just treat stores as distribution centers, which they are, but also drive traffic by creating an immersive and interactive experience.
  • Posted on: 04/27/2021

    Why did Amazon open a hair salon?

    Amazon never misses a trick. They look for a wedge opportunity, a segment of retail that is not dominated by one player, and then pounce. The salon space is fractured, with many small salons across the world. There is no dominant player — so in steps the giant. I wouldn't be surprised if they do the same thing with furniture that they have done with books and toys. This also gives them a play to challenge Ulta and Sephora in the beauty space. Amazon is the ultimate category killer.
  • Posted on: 04/26/2021

    Will stock ownership work as a loyalty program perk?

    What a brilliant idea. Loyalty programs always struggle with perceived value and this program speaks directly to the issue. Consumers frequent brands because they like them in most cases and to offer them shares in a brand to which they already have loyalty is a double incentive to shop. Offering points that may or may not be redeemed or discounts that are a one-time thing create a loyalty that may be fleeting but stock, even if fractional, is ownership and ownership is loyalty.
  • Posted on: 04/14/2021

    Is e-grocery killing or inspiring impulse buys?

    I just know that I don't stick to the list when I shop for groceries online. I also find that sales drive me to go outside the box. I think grocers need to get more creative in their flash sales (limited offers for the next five minutes creatively presented that match the market basket). Real-time analytics will drive customer behavior if presented in a user-friendly interface with relevant content.
  • Posted on: 04/09/2021

    Is Levi’s poised to become a consumer-direct powerhouse?

    Levi’s is fast following Nike here. Disintermediation is the future for iconic brands and Levi’s is positioned to “just do that.” The challenge they face is the durability of their product. The onus is on the design team to keep creating fresh product or for management to make smart acquisitions that increase the lifetime value of the Levi’s customer.
  • Posted on: 04/05/2021

    The Suez Canal incident offered retailers and brands a supply chain lesson

    The glass pipeline has been a dream of retailers for years but the reliance on siloed systems and out of date information has created the nightmare we now find ourselves in. The pandemic was a big eye opener as to why just in time can sometimes translate into just out of stock. We need to create resilient supply chains that are real time, rid ourselves of siloed systems and create alternative sources for products. Maybe bigger isn’t better for container shipping. We aren’t going to be building new canals anytime soon so why not work to develop a smaller fuel efficient fleet. Maybe we go full Luddite and leverage the wind.
  • Posted on: 04/01/2021

    Will a ‘skyscraper’ store change how groceries are delivered in cities?

    We have been working in the MFC space for some time and I think there is no better way to make money in online grocery than the automated/robotic MFC. The high density solutions are perfect for urban areas. There are complexities of ambient, chilled and frozen product that need to be supported and some vendors handle these better than others. One big decision for a retailer is to deploy this technology in a hub and spoke model or simply an in-store add-on to a dark or semi-dark store. This technology is affordable, reliable (many with no single point of failure) and fast. We will never go back to the old way of food shopping and this is a way for grocers to make money and not just break even.
  • Posted on: 03/26/2021

    Why should DTC brands sell to Nordstrom?

    There are benefits of selling wholesale versus DTC. The most compelling benefit is the fact that the store is capturing people who like to browse. It takes advantage of experienced buyers who know what sells and what doesn’t. The customer response of brick-and-mortar gives brands a more nuanced perspective than DTC. Thus the Nordstrom legacy is the authenticity that brands need in today’s Amazon economy.
  • Posted on: 03/25/2021

    Why hasn’t plus-sized apparel been an easy win for retail?

    I believe many plus size people have lost the love of shopping. They have been given limited clothing options from a limited set of brands that frequently have size challenges and those retailers have been plagued by both COVID-19 (in-store) and increased online returns. This sector has always been a tough nut to crack but people need options. Perhaps we should change sizing altogether and have only unisex sizing as men's sizes have always been for the most part larger than women's. Made to order is an option for those that can afford it or can wait for the price to drop. Maybe there are no easy solutions.
  • Posted on: 03/24/2021

    Will Five Below’s sales go above and beyond with a new store-in-store concept?

    I believe this is a great concept and will be rolled out to all stores. My grandkids love this store but they don't go in alone. I always go with them and give them a limit but sometimes that limit is stretched and having options that appeal to the parents and grandparents certainly fills a void created by the loss of iconic brand like Toys "R" Us, FAO and the like. The missing link in toy shopping is the touch and feel and this concept will bring that back for children and adults.
  • Posted on: 03/23/2021

    Is AI adoption moving too fast?

    I don’t believe AI is moving too fast but quite the opposite. What we are moving too slowly on is addressing the silos that are impeding AI, the use of clean and real-time data, and the taking of prescriptive action based on that data. We need to fund the infrastructure that allows us to thrive by leveraging our most important asset. Systems that are a day late in synchronization just won’t allow you to complete tomorrow. We must normalize our data and stop creating islands of information that don’t talk. This takes investment but the prize is worth it.

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