Ken Morris

Principal, Boston 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.

  • Posted on: 09/18/2019

    Retailers approach tech’s cutting edge with caution

    I believe a cautious approach is best with these technologies. The use cases just aren't that persuasive. These technologies will only be adopted when there is a hard savings return on investment (ROI). Hard savings ROI is literally head-count reduction and these technologies, to date, have not leaped over that threshold. Beacons are less intrusive and a lower investment so I believe they will be adopted first ... facial recognition maybe never. Robots may be a close second for cleaning (a la Walmart), and pick, pack and ship in the DC.
  • Posted on: 09/17/2019

    Barnes & Noble College goes to school on Gen Z

    Treating Gen Z with the utmost respect is the key to creating a bond that will carry over beyond their academic life. BNC has an opportunity to create tremendous LTV (Lifetime Value) with Gen Z customers. Students' academic life is filled with books/audio/clothing and BNC is uniquely positioned to leverage this relationship forever. One of my clients, The Harvard Coop, which is the college bookstore for Harvard, the Harvard Business School, the Medical School and MIT has a bookstore relationship with BNC. This relationship coupled with the cooperative business model of the Coop allows for a very intimate relationship between the students, faculty, and BNC that lasts for a lifetime. A truly symbiotic relationship that works.
  • Posted on: 09/16/2019

    How profitable is online selling?

    I believe online selling is inherently unprofitable for certain price points and product categories. The fact that customers can't physically use their five senses to buy products is one major factor, another is the return rate of 30+ percent for many products. Many people use online shopping as a way to have presented to them a range of colors and sizes that they have no intention of purchasing and, if they do, it will only be a singe item selected from the presentation. I have always felt that history is the best indicator of where this market will go. Earlier in my career, mail and phone order retailing and leveraging catalogs, was hot. It was going to eliminate stores, but it had the opposite effect with catalogers opening locations where they had geographic clusters of customers. I believe we are seeing a similar phenomenon but a different day and time.
  • Posted on: 09/13/2019

    Why did it take At Home so long to decide to sell online?

    I understand why At Home would be reluctant to go with an online sales strategy a few years ago but the success of Wayfair should have been their litmus test and they seem to have been slow on the uptake. The furniture segment has been exploding from a technology perspective. My business has been furniture-heavy over the last several years as the leading technology vendors in this space are well past their prime with 30-year-old technology running 75 percent of the sector. This is also a sector that is fractured into over 1,000 independent retail brands and a few national players that is ripe for consolidation. It is not too late for At Home but they need to move fast and two and one half years before they sell online will simply be too late.
  • Posted on: 09/12/2019

    In power move, Walmart expands Delivery Unlimited

    I think this will be a definite plus for their grocery business but the price may be steep for the Walmart shopper. With 90 percent of the U.S. population living within a 10 mile radius of a Walmart location they have the opportunity to grab a big chunk of market share. They will need to increase their organic and healthy selections to compete as Whole Foods and regional juggernauts like Publix aren't standing still. I believe if they upgraded their selection and offered lower and or one-time options they could take a big portion of what will be a huge market.
  • Posted on: 09/11/2019

    Will multistory warehouses mean faster deliveries from Amazon, Home Depot and others?

    I believe that, as many of the big players who have avoided urban locations will be forced to move to this more consolidated model. Just as they have had to modify their store approach to fit the smaller urban footprint, they will need to do the same with their distribution centers. This denser multiple level approach will allow them to compete in the approaching same-day battle.
  • Posted on: 09/10/2019

    Will a loyalty program give Americans more reasons to shop at Target?

    I'm not sure how getting more intimate with your customer could be a bad thing. I firmly believe loyalty is the way to go but it has to be frictionless (like Whole Foods) to work effectively. When you break you customer base into deciles and understand the universal rule is a 20 percent/80 percent breakdown with 20 percent of customers accounting for 80 percent of the sales it is easily provable that increasing that base will will drive sales -- it's just math and that appears to be just what Target did.
  • Posted on: 09/09/2019

    Will Apple’s texting tool create more personalized shopping experiences at Burberry?

    Text messaging creates a real-time bond between the associate and the customer. It really fits this type of high-end customer experience. The reality is that retailers do not overstaff and any tool that allows them to interact with the client virtually allows them to cover more ground. With a low velocity of high price point product you have fewer sales per day and more time to potentially interact with customers but customers can't always be in your shop. This give both the customer and the associate the opportunity to save their most precious commodity which is time. This creates a more curated intimate relationship with a younger demographic that has disposable income.
  • Posted on: 09/06/2019

    Starbucks developing new store dedicated to pickup and delivery orders

    While I believe mobile ordering and pickup is important I think a mobile coffee/food truck approach is a much better way to reduce cost, assure quality and get to the next level of in-home delivery which is the way this will go. The idea popularized in the '90s by Chemex in Mexico where they had mobile cement trucks without existing orders being routed by online demand is a model to be used here. The future is in-home delivery, why not just do it?
  • Posted on: 09/05/2019

    Whole Foods wants a hand from shoppers at checkout

    I believe this is a much less intrusive way to identify customers and a far more privacy oriented than fingerprint or facial recognition. In the grocery segment, it's all about speed to checkout. If they can reduce the checkout time that is a big win for grocery and likely to be a big win for all types of retail. Retail is all about peak. How fast do the lines move the day after Thanksgiving? How many walkouts did I save? This technology speeds checkout. If I can do that then I can increase the likelihood of a good customer moment, which leads to a happy customer and lifetime value (LTV) and recency of purchase, frequency of purchase or visit and monetary value of the customer (RFM). The true measure of CRM.
  • Posted on: 09/04/2019

    Will miniature Meijers be a big hit?

    I think the move by Meijer is a smart one. The dearth of class "A" space in urban settings creates a pass or play scenario for retailers like Meijer. Their big box format simply cannot fit into reasonably affordable space in urban locations. This allows them to bend the cookie cutter to fit local urban settings and makes them competitive with entrenched urban brands that have the prime real estate. The key to making this concept work is People, Process and Technology. How do you get merchandise delivered floor ready as the back rooms are configured differently? How do you load trucks? What is the frequency of delivery? What technology changes need to be made to support smaller, more frequent deliveries? And what is the store/back office layout, the new staffing model, etc? It isn't easy, but everything that has great value requires commitment.
  • Posted on: 09/03/2019

    Will H&M’s ambassador program turn employees into social influencers?

    Employees are invested in the brand. They can see, touch, and even smell the products and they also receive an employee discount so they are shopping and living the brand. What better group could there be to become influencers ... they are truly ambassadors for the brand.
  • Posted on: 08/14/2019

    Can H-E-B win the autonomous delivery vehicle race in Texas?

    Fulfillment is going to continue to evolve as customers expect their purchases as quickly as possible – delivery windows keep getting shorter, it used to be two-day delivery was quick, yet now consumers expect same-day delivery while retailers strive to fulfill these orders as efficiently as possible. Autonomous delivery and distribution are the next steps to improve fulfillment. Thirty-two percent of retailers in our 2019 Unified Commerce Survey are focused on decreasing the cost of delivering products to customers so this is a high priority. With many retailers offering same-day delivery in certain markets, the push is on for retailers to get items delivered to customers as soon as possible so self-driving technology seems like an obvious next step.
  • Posted on: 08/13/2019

    Grocers develop their own tech responses to Amazon Go

    The ease and convenience of being able to choose an item, put it in your cart, and basically walk out of the store without the need to empty your cart on the conveyor belt and wait in line to check out, is huge. In today's hectic environment, consumers don't have the time or patience for hassles. Whether the technology is as cutting-edge as Amazon's Go stores, or a little more simple like Sam's Club's Scan & Go, the customer benefits from a faster and easier process and the retailer benefits from a less congested checkout area and happier customer.
  • Posted on: 08/12/2019

    Nike to marry predictive analytics and RFID to optimize inventory performance

    Predictive analytics help retailers make smarter product decisions and offer more personalized experiences. Furthermore, it can act as the catalyst to encourage proactive, rather than reactive, retail actions in real-time. And RFID is a key to inventory visibility and management, allowing retailers to easily view current inventory to make for more accurate stock counts, help with loss prevention and eliminate the need to carry safety stock. Combining predictive analytics with RFID is key to improving the accuracy of inventory visibility and ensuring that products are in the right place to fulfill customer needs and offer more effective fulfillment options. This combination should give Nike an advantage by allowing them to have real-time inventory management.

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