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: 06/01/2020

    Is it safe to bring back food sampling?

    Sampling as it was is a clear risk and these stores know it. If masks are required, pulling masks down and eating in aisles will also be a risk. So it will be interesting to see what they attempt to do. The really curious part is how things come full circle. The in-store interactive system I developed around a decade ago called iSample was a hygienic self-serve sampling system that provided interactive messaging, surveying, and analytics and would solve all but the eating in-store issues. Sounds like I should blow the dust off of it and...
  • Posted on: 05/26/2020

    Should Apple and other stores require shopper temperature checks?

    Are stores that will be temperature screening customers medically certified to make health assessments or is this a liability cover story? Are they creating a false sense of customer safety by using one of many COVID-19 symptoms as a determination of a customer's in-store exposure risk? To what extent will they go to block a shopper's entry into a store based on their temperature?
  • Posted on: 05/19/2020

    Is Amazon about to buy J.C. Penney?

    Opinions about what Amazon should do or will do are like... elbows -- everyone has a couple. An Amazon acquisition of J.C. Penney has another perspective: Sears. No one thought Sears would be around anymore and especially with today's pandemic-driven world, Eddie Lampert is either panicked about burning up his cash or gleeful that the next phase of his strategy to gut Sears will accelerate(?). Nevertheless, if Amazon acquires J.C. Penney for any of the postulated purposes, there is no doubt that it will hasten Sears' demise.
  • Posted on: 05/15/2020

    Are Amazon’s at-cost face shields an act of goodwill or predatory behavior?

    Gene -- I'm surprised that your summary of billionaires is that misguided. When a company owned by the world's richest man pushes this kind of shallow PR to deflect ongoing press about its troublesome response to protecting its own employees, both are fair game for scrutiny. So if you want to be Bezos' apologist, more power to you. Let's say they raise the giveaway to 100,000 shields from (20,000) at a production cost of $10 and compensate sellers for lost sales with three times that amount. That would be $4,000,000. Chump change for both a billionaire and a corporation. Is that what you're defending? Have you come out publicly like this in support of Amazon employees asking for better COVID protection, for Amazon employees that stood up for better protection and were fired for "unrelated reasons," and prior to this situation, for Amazon employee's efforts to unionize to gain better working conditions, or are you just a supporter of billionaires and shareholder profits? Please let me know Gene.
  • Posted on: 05/15/2020

    Are Amazon’s at-cost face shields an act of goodwill or predatory behavior?

    I disagree with most here. When the world's richest man owns an e-commerce retailer with 50%+ e-commerce share, it's PR spin to offer masks "at cost" versus giving them away--especially only 20,000 masks, that's not being magnanimous. And, when that steps on vendors on the platform, it's potentially highly inappropriate. There are lots of ways to be a good citizen, prevent price gouging, and not hurt the vendors that have largely grown the company, but don't be fooled--this isn't it.
  • Posted on: 05/14/2020

    Should grocers keep paying their associates like heroes?

    I told you so--there, I said it. When these TEMPORARY bonuses were first discussed on RetailWire I questioned what would happen when this day comes. Well, it's here now. It's a horrible message to frontline workers that "we only really value you when there's an emergency and we have to." That's what the cessation of bonus pay means. So what will the criteria going forward be that determines what a "crisis" is, who gets what pay, and for how long? The problem across all of retail is that to the C-suite, frontline = low-level = expendable. Just look at Instacart's CEO's attitude. When there was a threat that 50,000 Instacart shoppers would strike over the lack of personal protective equipment, he stated that there were 300,000 applicants looking to onboard. If retail (grocery and other) want to operate consistently and with team members that will step up without hesitation, whatever the situation is, (as we've said here for years), management has to start paying them appropriately and create career positions rather than just jobs.
  • Posted on: 05/13/2020

    Where can robots assist in retail’s COVID-19 efforts?

    Will these robots pick up each can of soup, each avocado, or each package of hamburger and disinfect all sides and the shelf space where they sat, or are you thinking of just a PR play that stores claim they were robotically sanitized?
  • Posted on: 05/13/2020

    Where can robots assist in retail’s COVID-19 efforts?

    These are all nice ideas, but the whole concept needs a reality check. Robots are not hand sanitizer stations. A retailer doesn't just order up a bunch of robots and send them to stores to use. There is a big planning effort and considerations around oft-forgotten things such as deployment testing, safety testing, consumer education, use case validation, and much more -- including revisions to all of those things once robots are in the wild. The Enjoy the Store example as it was portrayed makes for a nice TV spot, but is not reality. One robot with one associate in one small location is not indicative of, say, a supermarket implementing teleshopping. Amazon/Whole Foods still can't get their s_ _ _ straight with human delivery and look at the resources there. This is a bunch of technology concepts looking for a real-world scenario that is functionally viable -- let alone financially viable -- and not making a convincing case. And ... how many robots are sitting in warehouses today waiting for deployment in meaningful numbers?
  • Posted on: 05/11/2020

    What should retailers do about social distancing renegades?

    The examples in this article are violent. The cause is irrelevant--violence is never acceptable. Stores need to CLEARLY post rules in-store and in digital. Employees need training on how much to engage, when, to let something go, and when to call security [if available] or the police. No retailer can resolve human behavioral issues, If there are too many behavioral issues emanating from frustrated shoppers, they can explore other options like closing for a couple of days with the reason made public or resorting to curbside and delivery services only. To cower in the face of immature and/or threatening behavior is to signal that the few can control the many and allowing that will spell the end of such a retailer.
  • Posted on: 04/17/2020

    Some customers play bait and zero tip tricks on Instacart shoppers

    Surprising Al. The shoppers here in Jersey have been fine, but the company itself is an abomination. I understand the overwhelming demand, but when employees [shoppers] asked for more protection and threatened a strike, the smug CEO bragged about having 300,000 applicants in the pipeline. If he's got a need to be that indifferent towards the very people that make him his living, he's got a need to make sure the web site works and he can deliver to customers, or at least have a very manageable/transparent queueing system. Especially with, as Peter Charness points out, jacked up prices.
  • Posted on: 04/17/2020

    Some customers play bait and zero tip tricks on Instacart shoppers

    DISTURBING. We received two orders before Instacart totally crashed and burned. Each time there were minor mistakes that given the situation were totally acceptable. We tipped generously. Bad times can bring out the worst in people or the best. Unfortunately, these are (hopefully limited) examples of the worst. The situation is exactly like Annaliisa Arambula said, “I don’t pretend to be a hero, like a nurse in a hospital … but I literally am exposing myself [to coronavirus]..." I hope all people remember and respect that. Lastly, this is yet another corporate failure allowing the possibility of no tip until their eyes were forcibly opened by a widespread problem. Wake up corporate management!
  • Posted on: 04/16/2020

    DSW tries to make itself ‘essential’ with Hy-Vee partnership

    This can only go two ways: customers will be focused on food acquisition (given its challenges) and nothing more, or they will appreciate the distraction from necessity and make some feel-good purchases. I believe it will be the former. E-commerce still exists, footwear purveyors are a part of it and the expansive product choices online vs. limited store stock are obviously more appealing. I doubt there's any looming success story here. Interestingly, while it seems DSW has resources for this folly, my wife has shoes to return to them and they have been completely unreachable to answer her questions. Any smart business knows that sacrificing user experience for a marketing ploy is a huge mistake as I've outlined here.
  • Posted on: 04/15/2020

    Is remote working here for good?

    Remote is nothing new. All that has changed is that some companies have been forced to embrace it and use this situation as a test of future feasibility. I'm confident that the benefits of a happier workforce and in some scenarios, cost savings, will cause a larger percentage of WFH situations to take hold.
  • Posted on: 04/14/2020

    Amazon puts new online grocery customers on hold, reconfigures Whole Foods

    It's truly ridiculous that John Mackey has been allowed to project his weak management for so long and that the world's richest boy-wonder knowingly followed him this deep into a hole. When Whole Foods was acquired, pundits and industry consultants boasted about how amazing and untouchable Whole Foods would be with the backing of Amazon, specifically BECAUSE OF AMAZON'S SUPPLY CHAIN EXPERTISE! In the nearly three years leading up to the coronavirus outbreak, there was no significant positive change to the company for consumers and in fact, Order-to-shelf has been a problem, prices (after PR spin) are still SKU for SKU higher than probably every competitor, and as we see, no crisis planning any better than competitors--probably worse than some. Amazon has positioned itself in the minds of consumers as a mythical go-to, clearly beyond the reality of what they can deliver. With all the hype and spin Amazon has put out there, more focus was clearly needed to be prepared to respond to crisis situations than creating a facade of the everything store.
  • Posted on: 04/13/2020

    How transparent should grocers be about employees infected with COVID-19?

    Certainly no one wants an employee's privacy to ever be compromised. That said, given the gravity of this situation, grocers and essential retailers must provide some transparency regarding the presence of employees who have been identified as infected. Additionally, they need to match the notice with an explanation of what measures they have taken to protect the public, such as additional cleaning, disposal of potentially infected products, or whatever.

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