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: 10/08/2020

    Amazon rolls out virtual vacation tours that include shopping

    From https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B083P77CRP/ref=ae_strft: Prague Stories Virtually tour Prague's Old Town Square $210.00 35 minute session That will be one hell of a 35-minute tour to justify the outrageous fee--particularly with 25.5 million Americans receiving unemployment and about 10% of adults, or over 22 million Americans, claiming they sometimes or often didn’t have enough to eat in the last seven days, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau. $10-20 tours where the host gets 75% of the fee and all shopping-related tours free, that's reasonable. But this is another Amazon grab that is offensive given the REALITY of our economy that those of us with unaffected incomes must always consider.
  • Posted on: 10/02/2020

    New Jersey hops back on the bag ban bandwagon

    There is no correlation between coronavirus transmission and banning plastic bags, here's why: Aside from the insufficient checkout barriers that offer frontline workers little protection at best, cashiers handle merchandise picked by shoppers. So if a shopper has infected a reusable bag, they have likely infected many items they've placed in their cart/basket via touch or breathing. At Trader Joe's, cashiers also move the cart that has been touched prolongedly by shoppers. If the staff member is wearing gloves for protection effectively, then handling reusable bags is a non-issue. So reusable bags have been a scapegoat and panacea in an effort to curb the virus and in an effort to appear to be making efforts to curb the virus. One-time use plastic bags need to go ASAP AND real frontline worker safety measures need to be implemented ASAP. These are two separate topics.
  • Posted on: 10/01/2020

    Will Amazon’s palm reader reveal the future of retail payment?

    Although this is less obvious PII, it's still PII. In most cases, facial recognition has had pushback, especially where it misidentifies some women and more so, people of color and where it can more easily be abused. This is something less invasive feeling for most people and likely more acceptable and likely a point not at all lost on Amazon--especially with its depth of admirers. Nevertheless, like finger(print) IDs it's another corporation gathering personal data that it will never let go of. Correction, not "another corporation," but likely one of the top two data gatherers in existence.
  • Posted on: 09/30/2020

    Will same-day deliveries be a difference maker for Bed Bath & Beyond?

    BOPIS, BOPAC, and same-day delivery are merely efforts to reach parity with the competitors that have been pounding Bed Bath & Beyond and walking away with their business. Catch-up is necessary but not a sufficient strategy to stop the company's losses and move in the direction of growth. We still get inundated with $20-off coupons which a year or two ago was supposed to be reduced. Bed Bath & Beyond needs a new playbook focused on truly new innovations or it too will be another retailer that despite small wins, erodes away to closure.
  • Posted on: 09/29/2020

    Store IoT platforms are set to go mainstream

    I'm a technology guy -- but what does retail IoT mean? It's such a vague phrase like "I ate food" that there's no real depth to discuss here. I can think of "IoT" shelf technologies that can help retailers in any economic environment with things like real-time inventory, but I don't see much cost/benefit argument specific to a pandemic economy. When the pandemic crunch hit, anything/everything was getting bought, [even if only for home delivery] and supply chains were breaking. So although I can talk about the benefits of cool tech all day long, without some specific, validated use case, pandemic economics dictate better areas to focus time/money on. One "low tech" example: drastically improving the UX of Whole Foods third rate web ordering/fulfillment.
  • Posted on: 09/23/2020

    COVID-19 may push retailers to use voice assistants instead of touch screens

    As the only BrainTrust member to have both developed kiosk software/hardware and voice enabled artificial assistants, I can say that some points my colleagues make are valid and others are way off. For example human recognition of spoken words ranks below the best current AI recognition. But... lower tier AI and more importantly, hardware design that doesn't account for environmental factors will undermine that. Voice is not an interim technology, even for kiosks, because of COVID. Technology implementations in many planes are moving to both conversational and VUI (Voice User Interface) enablement. Humans are multimodal in the way they communicate and the best uses of technology capture the same, not touch only, voice only, etc. Nevertheless, the video example shown here is laughable. It's absolute poor design. I've never even seen a touch application where a user would choose numbers to represent selections, so speaking them is asinine. I'm happy to give some pro bono advice to the owner of this installation just to help their customer's have better UX.
  • Posted on: 09/18/2020

    Have multiple rounds of price cuts changed Whole Foods’ high price image?

    "Price cuts trumpeted by Whole Foods in recent years have been dismissed by some as simply 'noise' as the retailer selectively reduces prices on key items, allegedly giving an impression of savings while overall market baskets remain largely unchanged." ABSOLUTELY TRUE! We shop there every week and as I have stated so many times on RetailWire and still find true today, SKU for SKU on many, many things we buy (now purchased elsewhere!), Whole Foods is significantly more expensive. Not similar items --SKU for SKU. My favorite example is organic avocados. In the initial PR price cut after being acquired, they trumpeted a new lower price. Yeah, a temporary new lower price. Their organic avocados are now priced at best, on par with area competitors and often priced higher. And Whole Foods calls them "medium," which they are, so they are not more costly because they are larger. Oh, how I can go on... but I'll leave it at saying, Mackey has a lot of hypocrisy to explain and this is one example.
  • Posted on: 09/11/2020

    Target touts diversity gains, pledges to hire more Black employees

    Ridiculous. Although Target may have better diversity in its workforce overall -- possibly even in management, than other merchants and brands, they have joined the chorus of long-established corporations that all of a sudden in the summer of 2020, have a diversity or Black Lives Matter PR statement. Yes statement. Policy is yet to be seen. Civil rights came to a head in the 1960s and Dr. King was assassinated 52 years ago. While advancing true equal opportunity, diversity, and acknowledgment are great things, no corporation deserves accolades for doing what they've had decades to do, without being pressured by extreme events, including hei·nous deaths.
  • Posted on: 09/09/2020

    Is it okay for retailers to ease up on cleaning their stores?

    It's all window dressing in the stores I've been to and even that is done so poorly it's a real joke. I'm certain stores' interests are the facade of taking action to cover/minimize liability. If this were a truly highly contagious pathogen, most shoppers would be dead by now given stores'/shoppers' inability to follow guidelines - if they really work.
  • Posted on: 09/04/2020

    How can automation help omnichannel fulfillment?

    What is automation? It's about as specific as saying "I ate food for dinner." Whatever it is, automation is a repeatable process. The breakdown in "automation" implementations is quite often the lack of logic in the series of processes that form a journey, especially at the intersections of "automation" and manual operations. Spend, spend, spend--if there isn't sound logic applied to a customer-centric journey, then at least the vendors will be happy.
  • Posted on: 09/03/2020

    Is Whole Foods’ e-grocery business headed down a dark path?

    So, so much to say about Whole Foods delivery failures that I just wrote an article about it. Maybe they need dark stores a.k.a. fulfillment centers because the store delivery fulfillment we experience on an ongoing basis is horrible. The latest example: the wrong type of avocados again. Strawberry mush again. Inedible apples. And ... packages of ground turkey, opened and partly re-wrapped with food wrap. I called the local store that pulled the merchandise and I was given the shift supervisor to to talk to. When I got the “What do you want me to do about it?” response, I asked him to replace the needed food and send someone over with it -- a two-mile trip. He said they can’t do that. In the continued resistance he turned more contentiousness and then said “I’m busy. I have real customers in the store.” The adoption of Whole Foods into the Amazon ecosystem was received by most as the start of the next level of grocery. Instead, it's at least three steps backward. So let them try yet another gimmick and more hype instead of getting the basics right. The competition is standing by.
  • Posted on: 09/02/2020

    FAA gives permission for Amazon’s drones to take off

    Excellent points Cynthia. Where is the peace of sitting outside and enjoying the calm when a drone passes across one's view with its annoying droning sound (even if it's not visible)? Just because retailers want to boost profits and cut staff, are citizens expected to give up yet another freedom? How many drones at what frequency at what dB level during what operating hours on what days are acceptable?
  • Posted on: 09/02/2020

    FAA gives permission for Amazon’s drones to take off

    It's so rare that we need anything that fast that we ever want to have more vehicle clutter and noise in our neighborhood. When this really comes to be, we'll see how many people feel as we do and how many take advantage of the opportunity to hone their target shooting skills.
  • Posted on: 09/01/2020

    Grocers shift gears as stimulus stalemate tightens consumer spending

    I don't see a problem yet for grocery staples--people still need to eat. If there's no employment or stimulus, grocery will be far safer than disposable spending verticals like fashion or furniture. If the economy stalls further and/or there is no stimulus and/or ultimately no basic rebound and things like the projected 40 million evictions by the year's end happen, then all of retail will be gone and we'll need some new term for the system we live under.
  • Posted on: 08/31/2020

    Will other booksellers follow Powell’s in just saying ‘no’ to Amazon?

    This seems more like an ethical stance than anything else, albeit way too late. Barnes & Noble may be convinced it's still an Amazon competitor, but in reality, for books, Amazon has no competitor. Whatever Powell's does is mostly about their micro-community and positioning there, 25 years after Amazon came on the scene.

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