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: 11/23/2022

    Will a new shopping platform redefine the formula for AI-driven personalization?

    I work with AI. All the algorithms they have and all the opinions here amount to nothing. If they have something figured out, we'll know based on shopper response and their growth. At this stage, it's another start-up with claims. Let's see.
  • Posted on: 11/22/2022

    The direct-to-consumer kitchenware brand Our Place gets physical

    This is a very tough vertical that serves a very niche market. The economy has a long way down to go. I would not have opened a physical store at this time, rather bolstered the online presence. We'll see where this ends up, but I'm not optimistic.
  • Posted on: 11/21/2022

    Will cracking down on serial returners solve retailers’ return problem?

    On the face of it this sounds logical, but what is a cheater? I overbuy materials for home repair because it's hard to know exactly what's needed before digging into a project. I then return the unused materials (I did it a couple of days ago). My intention at the moment of purchase is that I will make returns, so am I a cheater? A serial returner? Home Depot has benefited from many more sales from me because they are liberal with their returns. Compare that to Best Buy who maybe 12-15 years ago wanted my driver's license when I went to return a $15 item purchased less than a week before. I've never shopped them again. As we've discussed here many times, it's hard to find balance on this issue, but these broad labels and university studies are not the answer.
  • Posted on: 10/27/2022

    The new boss is the same as the old boss at Bed Bath & Beyond

    Ms. Gove is probably very talented, but Bed Bath & Beyond is beyond much hope at this point. Shoppers don't know and don't care who runs the stores. They care about the experience shopping and from the products they purchase there. All that the policy churn of the last five or so years has done is create customer confusion. And as that happens, the many other competitors, especially a few big ones, soak up the confused and disenfranchised (former) customers. That can only go on for so long before the ship can't be righted. I believe that's where Bed Bath & Beyond is now. Kind of like Sears: existent for now, but hopeless.
  • Posted on: 10/25/2022

    Why is Walmart killing off a $1 billion private label?

    I'm not sure where the story is here. They are not walking away from the market, rather embracing it in a new way, so it all comes down to how they market/position the transition. If they consciously educate consumers as to the benefits of the new brand over the old, possibly even incentivize an initial purchase and retire the old brand cautiously/slowly, I see no issues with evolving their house brands to better fit customer needs.
  • Posted on: 10/24/2022

    BOPIS substitution processes need work

    Each individual has different levels of comfort with substitutions and it isn't category specific. The obvious choice, when reasonable, is to follow a model like Instacart uses that enables the consumer to select substitution items (based on suggested similar items) or no substitutions at all, on a per item basis. It's in the moment of shopping, doesn't potentially cause delays waiting for a shopper to respond to a text/email, and doesn't create unhappiness with unauthorized substitution choices.
  • Posted on: 09/30/2022

    Lululemon subscription plan offers fitness where, when and how its customers want it

    Interesting, but I wonder how many people are willing to spend $795 for a mirror that is only useful with Lululemon, pay for a subscription, buy their quite pricey workout gear, and pay for a gym membership or other in-person classes. That sounds like a small demographic swath and I'll point out, the economy is headed for a crash.
  • Posted on: 09/29/2022

    A bag ban is all part of the brand at Wegmans

    HYPOCRITES! First, Wegmans has a huge presence in NJ. This year NJ banned single use bags, paper or plastic, Styrofoam take-out food packaging, and maybe a couple of other things. Some stores like Home Depot skirt the rules with paper bags anyway. Smaller stores are allowed to still offer bags as if those bags don't pollute or fill landfills. So Wegmans' positioning as being thoughtful and environmentally-focused is somewhat disingenuous given that they have to stop ALL bags in NJ. They are hypocrites because until that point they were the worst offender of plastic bag overuse. It was uncomfortable to watch every cashier massively overbag, often putting one or two lightweight items in a bag -- yes, it was true. We reuse then recycle plastic bags, so for us they weren't going to waste, but most shoppers probably threw them away upon returning home. So what's the sudden epiphany Wegmans? A chance to save a little money? Greenwashing? Both? And BTW - now in NJ, after scanning items, most cashiers talk to one another or jump on their phone while the shopper does the bagging. Some ask to help. These "thoughtful" and "customer-centric" stores like Wegmans and Whole Foods and ... might think of training their staff to do their job.
  • Posted on: 09/28/2022

    Walmart enters the metaverse on Roblox

    I give credit to Walmart for trying -- it's certainly not a place for me. And whether it's a place for Gen Z or anyone that's beneficial to Walmart will take time to unfold. Novelty is always an attractor, but it doesn't mean sustainability and meaningful ROI. Let's revisit in 2-3 years and see what has or has not materialized for retail verch.
  • Posted on: 09/26/2022

    Can Instacart marry in-store and online grocery shopping experiences?

    Kudos to Instacart for growing the business and offering more ways for supermarkets to engage their services, especially now that the pandemic rush to home grocery delivery has faded. That said, two things: The standard online Instacart experience has improved, but has a way to go to be frictionless. Scan and pay instead of Caper Cart is ripe for fraud. How does it detect what was put in the cart or in what quantity? What stops someone from faking that they have the app with make believe scans and walking out of the store with a cart full of unpaid items?
  • Posted on: 09/02/2022

    Walmart takes a stake in a rancher-owned beef company

    Overall, this is a symbiotic partnership and a wise one for Walmart, given the numerous mysterious food processing plant fires, government/political interference in food production, and likely shortages coming soon. Similar solutions will be needed by others to lessen bare shelves and appease irate customers. As far as beef standards... Walmart's are better than nothing but certainly do not represent industry leadership. Even the CEO of Sustainable Beef said, "Our plan is to look at sustainability, and to define that. We believe that term has different meanings for different people, so we want to help clarify that in the marketplace."
  • Posted on: 09/01/2022

    Will Bed Bath & Beyond’s new turnaround plan work any better than the previous one?

    This company never rises from the ashes. All the last CEO did was give competitors time to get further ahead. They need to drop the whole membership game and even the slew of coupons--what they promised to drop years ago and get back to meaningful retailing. They can't win on price. They need to be expert at product mix and service. Did I say service? They are good at hassle-free returns, but finding assistance let alone good assistance is a challenge for shoppers. I'm not optimistic about any plan for them. They've lost time and although they are cost cutting, they are racking up debt. Hard to invest in quality front-line staff and a better in-store experience, while towing the line on price and paying back loans. I think this is the making of another Sears.
  • Posted on: 08/31/2022

    Sephora learns an expensive lesson about customer data privacy in California

    This is mostly a non-story. Alphabet for example, has proven repeatedly, globally, that there's more benefit to large enterprises to disregard privacy laws and take the occasional slap on the wrist, than respecting their users and abiding by privacy regulations. Some companies will see this as a warning and others will continue the disregarding model.
  • Posted on: 08/30/2022

    Would organic grocery stores do better if coupled with conventional food stores?

    What is the point to EatWell if it's paired with a conventional store anyway? It sounds like the lesson learned is that a stand-alone organic store won't be as successful as keeping a conventional store approach and increasing its organic food SKUs and possibly segregating them in a more concentrated way. Pairing two stores and brand identities (based upon Schnucks reporting) means unnecessary consumer confusion and unneeded expense.
  • Posted on: 08/29/2022

    Should retail worry about the ‘quiet quitting’ trend?

    These trends and labels get evermore ridiculous. Some pundit or some "influencer" labels an issue and it becomes a trend in the sense that every news or opinion source trends towards repeating it. Motivated people with rewarding work are great employees that build businesses. Every other situation has degrees of lower and lower positive impact leading to warm bodies punching a clock and ultimately quitting. When employers shy away from greed and share the profits through compensation, education, challenge, career stability, meaningful retirement planning, etc., they will have a powerful workforce and a key component of a thriving business. When they don't respect their employees enough and grab the most for themselves and when the government backs that behavior by a variety of direct/indirect subsidies, you get negative "trends."

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