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: 01/21/2020

    Does IKEA need parking lots?

    Presuming that there’s quality research behind this, it makes sense to me. Parking lots/decks are major expenses and lots are a real blight in cities. Consumers are being offered options, so it’s worth a real-world try.
  • Posted on: 01/20/2020

    What does it take to create a risk-taking, innovating retail culture?

    Culture only comes from top leadership. What they instill and what they permit sets the tone others follow. Overall retail has lacked innovation culture for decades. Certainly there have been exceptions, but most retailers create some hype around a small project and then continue the same old practices. Retailers that recognize the value of breaking that habit and want to leap forward have to first identify what's truly broken from a customer viewpoint and what fixed would look like. Then they need to encourage new ideas that have demonstrable consumer benefits in line with consumer needs or at least find them from vendors. Lastly, they must be prepared to fund full rollouts of successful ideas, even at the expense of profitability, else it's yet another dog and pony show for PR and investor pacification.
  • Posted on: 12/26/2019

    Will we see AI’s impact on 2019 holiday results?

    Few businesses in any vertical are anywhere near AI's potential. AI is still a nascent group of technologies. Even the term is about as specific as saying "I ate food last night." To reach its potential, two things have to happen:
    1. The technologies themselves have to continue to evolve and "get smarter";
    2. The application of AI needs to be use-case driven where it is the best set of technologies to create positive change.
    AI is still getting only modest attention and is still a big sell due to skepticism and some false starts. In time, as proper uses show the upside of AI and more specifically machine learning, adoption and benefits will show themselves. I imagine that 2019 will show some AI positivity in retail, but overall, nothing patently obvious.
  • Posted on: 12/23/2019

    Giant thinks AR-games are ripe for grocery aisles

    Nice idea especially with the rewards, but the implementation opens some concerns. If kids are supposed to scavenger hunt without parents, I think there’s an issue. If they’re supposed to stay with parents and nag them to run them through the store to find every QR, that’s burdensome. If parents are supposed to put their kids to work to earn three bucks, there won’t be much incentive for non-Giant customers to try the stores. Kudos for the initiative, but this effort needs iteration ASAP.
  • Posted on: 12/20/2019

    Amazon gets more free with free returns

    Exactly. My wife just dropped off two returns at Kohl's. Her entire focus was the return desk and she paid no attention to the store in her two minutes there.
  • Posted on: 12/20/2019

    Amazon gets more free with free returns

    As much as free delivery is touted as driving Amazon sales, free returns can potentially be a larger tipping point. The biggest criticism of e-commerce among both pundits and consumers has been the hassle/cost of returns. That sentiment existed long before shoppers "expected" free shipping. In fact, I would argue that if Amazon offered this in the early 2000s, free shipping would still not be as pervasive as it is. Time will tell, but this is a solution to a longstanding fundamental issue that is creeping up on and challenging physical retailers to counteract in some meaningful way or surrender even more sales to Amazon.
  • Posted on: 12/17/2019

    Why is Amazon banning FedEx ground delivery?

    We don't know the true driving force behind this, but the timing makes it seem like a very calculated/punitive move. From my experience over the last 30 years, no one has matched FedEx's reliability, especially UPS. And if Amazon's delivery service is so good, maybe they can explain how our last TWO Prime orders last week were each delivered a day late! Maybe FedEx is slipping or maybe this is a push to get merchants to use Amazon for delivery. "Maybe" is just a polite expression.
  • Posted on: 12/10/2019

    Will female-led pop-ups add pop to Macy’s Christmas?

    I thought we settled this in previous discussions. These efforts are all fringe "niceties" with little real business value. Macy's needs to get their core business right, else these dalliances will do nothing but hasten their ultimate decline.
  • Posted on: 12/02/2019

    Why is Allbirds asking Amazon to do a better job ripping it off?

    This is a marketing technique--not a new one, but potentially a useful one. When a Goliath is accused of copying David's product, the usual defenses would be a protracted and expensive lawsuit that unlikely would be fruitful or a typical volley of accusations and grabs at sympathy. This technique gives the appearance of "the high road" using subtle intonations and reverse psychology to demonstrate to consumers both brand tactfulness and product differentiators. Whether it works for Allbirds in the face of Amazon's market reach will be an interesting test of how loyal its customers or its type of customers are to their products/brand.
  • Posted on: 11/27/2019

    Big things are happening as Small Business Saturday turns 10

    I'm skeptical of the survey because once again--like magic, the survey results align with the survey sponsor's intended outcome. No doubt that when asked, people are all for the little guy and no doubt they don't want to see empty stores on Main Street. Yet, Amazon and Walmart keep growing because those very same people want the convenience and pricing the big entities offer. It's good that Small Business Saturday continues to get better recognition and grow, but one day or even 10 days of focus is insufficient to keep mom and pop stores afloat. Until shoppers walk-the-walk in vast numbers all year long, small businesses are going to continue to struggle, unless they completely decommodify and seriously up their customer experience.
  • Posted on: 11/25/2019

    Private label foods need work

    Trader Joe’s is an unfair comparison for supermarkets--it is almost exclusively a house brand retailer. They are not. Supermarkets have largely built house brands as off-price equivalents to name brands and to a large degree, have wiped out any cachet their brands might have. To create new opportunities, it will likely take creating new store brands in addition to the lower priced existing ones, but at national brand pricing and with similar marketing strategies.
  • Posted on: 11/20/2019

    Will a hack ruin Macy’s Christmas?

    It’s very unfortunate that so many here are acquiescent about yet another data hack. Sure those unaffected by stolen data will lose sight of it in the information overload, but those whose data is abused can face years of serious heartache and in some cases life altering issues. Companies are able to get away with service level agreements stating things like “industry standard data protection.” When the industry standard is to have poor safeguards, PR spin, and a year of credit monitoring service, the industry is weak and unfortunately may need government regulation.
  • Posted on: 11/15/2019

    Is the environment Amazon’s Achilles heel or opportunity?

    Correct. How many shoppers are aware, how much effort does Amazon put into their "eco-friendlier" awareness and explaining the environmental benefit, and most importantly, how many choose it? I'll venture it's all minimal.
  • Posted on: 11/15/2019

    Is the environment Amazon’s Achilles heel or opportunity?

    Amazon will benefit very little from changing their practices to improve the environment. I certainly don't know all that they've done to date environmentally, but they are clearly greenwashers. That said, I don't care about Amazon benefiting, I care about the environment. Most people will say the same and still order one item at a time because they can have it the next day or sometimes the same day. It's a habit that will not change substantially because for most humans, the delight of getting a shiny new thing for immediate gratification outweighs far off benefits of controlling their urges for the greater good. Just the other day I thought of how Bezos wants to move humans into space and manufacture items there in a very distant future stating "...Earth can be zoned residential.” Yet HIS COMPANY is enhancing environmental problems on multiple fronts in the present. He already has too much money, so without question he has the opportunity to "be the change" and make a difference now, instead he has chosen profits and hypocrisy.
  • Posted on: 11/14/2019

    Are mixed reality apps set to skyrocket?

    It’s hard for me to accept that this is still a discussion question in 2019. Mobile AR is here to stay and will grow so long as (in the retail world) it’s baked into an existing app and eventually, a mobile site. It’s another layer of useful data and/or entertaining experience to engage users. Design with that mindset and it will be accepted and utilized, even by current doubters. AR headgear is niche market and only has a possibility of real growth if it’s seamlessly integrated into prescription glasses or sunglasses. All the hyped goggles have plateaued with niche markets and will not see much future growth.

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