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: 11/25/2020

    Retailers show essential workers their appreciation with promotional perks

    These types of gestures are nice to hear about given the toxic political environment leveled over the pandemic strife the country has been experiencing. I would like to see more internally oriented gestures of appreciation such as monetary bonuses for workers. It's a fantasy, but it would be the perfect year for corporations to step up and forgo profit considerations to give frontline workers meaningful bonuses. As I pointed out yesterday, in the last eight months of the pandemic, the Walton family members pocketed $63 billion while more than 14,500 Walmart staff need Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) aid. Imagine the immense good they could do if they could squeeze by on only $61 billion and spread $2 billion among their workers.
  • Posted on: 11/24/2020

    To furlough or not to furlough?

    Standing ovation to Laura Alber for saying “you take care of your people and they do amazing things for you,” and the other exceptional companies that stood behind their colleagues and sacrificed profits and cash reserves in doing so. Contrast those efforts with Walmart which has been growing pre-pandemic and especially during the pandemic, yet over 14,500 employees need Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) support while during the pandemic (eight months), the Waltons gained another $63 billion in earnings. https://childrenshealthdefense.org/defender/report-details-how-taxpayers-subsidize-cruel-low-wages-paid-by-corporate-giants/
  • Posted on: 11/23/2020

    Big chains are raising pay and more retailers are likely to follow

    The two corporate statements cited here give opposing reasons for the increase. I think Home Depot is more transparent in saying that it's a business investment. From a cold-hearted business perspective, with woes befalling many small businesses that compete with HD in many product areas, improving employee retention and morale better positions them to compete for more market share. If that's not what's driving businesses to raise wages and it's truly about staff wellbeing, the raises would be more generous and roll out faster. So the future profitability of these corporations is surely the answer, not employee beneficence. Regarding state and federal $15/hour initiatives, I get why it can't be an overnight doubling, but for people that need those wage increases, six years is an eternity and can be the make or break for their survival. Businesses need to try harder to do the right thing without governmental mandates.
  • Posted on: 11/13/2020

    Do affiliate links undermine the marketing value of holiday gift guides?

    “May earn a commission." There is no "may" that I'm aware of. That's the disingenuous part.
  • Posted on: 11/12/2020

    Will Amazon’s Dash Smart Shelf drive auto-replenishment from SMBs and consumers?

    FAIL! Come on -- this is technology for technology's sake. Some Kool-Aid drinking fanboys and some businesses with a need to track a few specific items will go for this, but there is no market for widespread adoption. It's not even practical and Amazon expects people to fork out money to own these things? If someone's shelves are arranged as neatly as the promo shot, they can easily see they need more of some item and add it to their presumably frequent other Amazon purchases. Not to mention that there are discounted subscription replenishment services everywhere. Of course this is maybe more media bait to keep their name front and center...
  • Posted on: 11/06/2020

    Will store certifications make customers feel safer?

    This is a complete farce. There are so many logic-defying actions I've seen in stores (and I don't frequent stores much anymore) that this will never be enforceable or valid. Rather than write a plethora of issues I've seen that go against "safety measures" here are three that I've witnessed multiple times:
    • Cashiers stick their head around the (minimal!) acrylic screens in checkout lines to speak with shoppers;
    • Staff pull down their masks, fully uncovering their mouths, to speak to both other staff AND customers;
    • Staff wear masks with their nose hanging out.
    So a store that wants this certification will know when to put on a good show for inspectors, but when they're gone, individuals will do what they've been doing. Bottom-line, this is likely, mostly a marketing ploy by retailers to try and encourage the return to in-store shopping as e-commerce explodes, which is causing a physical footprint to be harder to justify maintaining. And BTW.... it will work, at least until the pandemic worsens, then none of these attempts will matter. Better to invest in improving e-commerce capabilities and customer delight. For the foreseeable future, that's where growth or survival is.
  • Posted on: 10/30/2020

    Are Chewy and PetSmart better off apart?

    The acquisition was the classical management attempt to buy their way to success/profitability in an area they were underserving. Sometimes it doesn't work. In fact, this reminds me of the Walmart Jet acquisition, but I think even in a bad mix of cultures, Walmart received some gains that PetSmart did not. Essentially, everything is being reset to where it was pre-acquisition, except for some financial wounds sustained and potential lessons lost(?) on PetSmart. Anyone that wants to be a sustainable/profitable retailer or e-tailer has to understand customer needs and attempt every day to exceed them while staying in the black.
  • Posted on: 10/29/2020

    Do retailers need to make price optimization a priority right now?

    There's a balance between price and experience. The lower the price, the worse the experience a user will put up with from discovery through delivery. To not have elastic pricing means e-tailers have to create added value to justify not being price competitive in the moment of discovery. COVID-19 doesn't impact everyone the same way. Swaths of people are still buying $300 shoes while big tranches of others try to piece together a budget to hang on to their home and feed their families. Those buying experience want emotional fulfillment while those trying to survive are buying to survive. Bottom line: elastic pricing is not one size fits all and needs to be evaluated by vertical and customer base.
  • Posted on: 10/28/2020

    Will Shopify merchants go viral with their TikTok videos?

    First-mover status isn't going to offer much of an advantage to merchants overall. Watching on TikTok and clicking-through to a purchase are two different things. Google and tons of start-ups have been and I believe Google is again trying to monetize video by in-video purchases. It has yet to catch on. Time will tell what behaviors users participate in and what they don't. Message to merchants: don't bet the farm on this until it is proven for your business.
  • Posted on: 10/27/2020

    Will its values-based approach turn Hive into an e-grocery powerhouse?

    Overall it's a nice approach for a limited set of consumers, but the devil is in the details for shoppers that are knowledgeable about what foods they purchase. "Rave-worthy" is meaningless marketing hype. What retailer would say their products are not? "Ingredient integrity" according to who? Checking a couple of brands, they are close but wouldn't meet my family's standards of "integrity." So within a space crowded by deep pockets, Hive is going to have a difficult uphill slog to grab a sliver of the online food market.
  • Posted on: 10/26/2020

    Google Shopping makes price comparisons easier

    Any retailer/brand that focuses its offering on the slippery slope of lowest price can expect this tool to be a detriment to profitability. Even massive sellers with expansive buying power feel the pinch on profits when lowest price thinking drives their decision-making over value and customer experience driven loyalty. The smartest approach to "gaming" this tool is to very carefully choose what items can act as loss leaders to attract shoppers and then skillfully encourage them to include secondary items with better profitability. Else, Google will be the only real winner.
  • 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.

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