Ken Morris

Retail industry thought leader

Ken was CEO and President of LakeWest Group and founder of CFT Consulting and CFT Systems, a retail software company. Earlier in his career, he held retail information technology executive positions at Lord & Taylor, Filene’s (Macy’s), Talbots, Stop & Shop Supermarket Company, and Sears. His experience is with strategy, selection development and deployment of retail management systems and processes.

  • Posted on: 06/05/2020

    The face mask rule is now simply a suggestion at some H-E-B stores

    It is absolutely not time to relax. I'm afraid people are confusing politics with science. I believe masking up will be with us until a vaccine and a treatment for COVID-19 are in place. I won't shop anywhere that allows people to roam without a mask and those stores that do should be held liable.
  • Posted on: 06/04/2020

    Do mobile shoppers disclose more valuable data about themselves?

    The smartphone is ubiquitous and it stands to reason that the focus required on a small screen device, coupled with its availability, makes it more vulnerable to over-sharing. I haven't checked statistics on fraud but I would wager that it is a greater risk on the small screen than the laptop. Continued investment in mobile technology would be a wise choice for retailers.
  • Posted on: 06/02/2020

    Do retailers need to go beyond ‘reopening playbooks’?

    I believe documented accountability is a requirement as we reopen. We need to maintain the trust factor with the customer base. Operating and shopping as usual is not the playbook going forward. We have been changed forever, like it or not, and we need to change the game. The compliance workflow idea resonates with me as one of the go forward keys to long term success. Tools like Reflexis, Opterus, ThinkTime and Workjam can be leveraged to enforce accountability with their closed loop notification and escalation capabilities.
  • Posted on: 06/01/2020

    Is the REI/West Elm collaboration a win-win?

    I see this as a three-way win, one for the customer and each retailer. With COVID-19 we are seeing a cocooning effect that is putting more emphasis on the home and family. This can extend to outdoor activities with immediate family so the synergy between REI and West Elm makes perfect sense to me. The risk is always that of one player co-opting the others' business, which has been done both by Walmart and Amazon, but if the synergy is there it is worth the risk.
  • Posted on: 05/28/2020

    Retailers focus on making safe spaces for customers and associates

    Retail must take an aggressive, multifaceted approach to health and safety. Customer experience and employee satisfaction are much more dependent on enhanced protection protocols than ever before. New C-level leadership, a Chief Health Officer (CHO), is needed to establish a vision for chain-wide public health and ensuring store level initiatives are executed fully and effectively. I believe a new CHO position focused on customer and employee health needs to be adopted to develop, implement and monitor:
    • Social distancing policies and execution;
    • Store capacity management process, infrastructure and technology;
    • Health and safety responsibilities for store and district-level store operations personnel;
    • Safety stations (facemasks, gloves, hand wipes, temperature checks and basket/cart cleaning), etc.;
    • Disaster recovery updated to include pandemic preparedness.
    We need to be prepared for whatever comes next and a CHO is a wise investment given what we have seen and what we will see over the coming months.
  • Posted on: 05/27/2020

    Bookstores could be in store for a post-lockdown boom

    I believe that many people have tired of being online 24/7 during this pandemic and have rediscovered the slower pace and pleasure provided by reading. To get outside your locked-down world and into a fantasy world of fiction or non-fiction is a journey one can make from anywhere. My local bookstore here on Cape Cod has begun to call their loyalty customers and ask them what books they can order for them. They have set up an arrangement with their suppliers to ship directly to the customer with no added shipping charge. They are also taking pre-orders over the phone for upcoming releases. People want to buy local. They want to support local businesses and bookstores should be prepared for the return of the customer as if it's Christmas -- in June or July.
  • Posted on: 05/26/2020

    Should Apple and other stores require shopper temperature checks?

    I believe this precaution is a must to protect customers. It is non-invasive and keeps us all safe or as safe as we can be since we can't test customers before they enter the store. How can anyone really be against this? Why would I want to go to what would be a place as infectious as a doctor's office to shop? This should be standard operating procedure for the next few months if retailers can actually find those fancy thermometers.
  • Posted on: 05/22/2020

    Who wins/loses if Amazon pushes Prime Day to September?

    I think Amazon will tap into the holiday season bonanza by moving Prime Day. The move allows them to capture both pre-holiday and holiday sales without too much cannibalization. The move also gives their rivals an opportunity to fill the void in July and offer their own version of Prime Day, let's hope it won't be sub-prime day.
  • Posted on: 05/21/2020

    Bob Mariano has plans to create a great ‘next-gen’ grocery store

    One thing I know is that having the opportunity to start again with a blank slate is a great advantage. Hiring the right team, targeting the concept, and leveraging the experience gained from the past will ensure success. The success of concepts like Eataly, where the store is theater, provide a blueprint for Dom's that will translate well in a grocery concept. I believe that COVID-19 and future infectious disease-related challenges will modify the grocery experience and Dom's will need to incorporate these in their plan.
  • Posted on: 05/20/2020

    IKEA’s play fort ads illustrate what’s good about times like these

    This is what building and sustaining a brand is all about. Speaking to the customer with a message that transcends mere product, one that resonates at a deeper level. Home, family and health are a powerful message that resonates with everyone. HBO's "It's OK not to feel OK" is a great one.
  • Posted on: 05/19/2020

    Is Amazon about to buy J.C. Penney?

    I believe this would be a good move for both parties. Amazon would get a big footprint in brick-and-mortar and J.C. Penney would get value for their employees and stockholders. The J. C. Penney locations are huge and could function as micro-distribution centers with a showroom atmosphere for popular and bigger ticket items. Given the acquisition of Whole Foods this acquisition would continue a move for dominance in the store arena as we shift from a scan and bag model to a distribution paradigm.
  • Posted on: 05/18/2020

    The new normal will look a lot like the old normal

    I don't agree with Warren and neither do 83 percent of C-level retail executives recently surveyed by Cambridge Retail Advisors. Things won't be snapping back to what they were. We have seen a shift to e-commerce that is massive and has probably taken three to five years out of what would have been its normal progression from brick-and-mortar. We have gone from 10%-15% adoption to 35%-45% adoption overnight. I don't see it retreating much when things return to "normal," whatever that will be.
  • Posted on: 05/14/2020

    Should grocers keep paying their associates like heroes?

    A two dollar per hour permanent increase is not going to break any grocer. These people need a living wage. The benefits mentioned as part of the hourly wage calculation doesn't mention that between 30 percent to 50 percent of these workers are part-time with little or no benefit coverage. It's time we recognize the value of everyone in our personal ecosystem and reward them accordingly.
  • Posted on: 05/12/2020

    How should retailers manage touch-but-not-buy?

    I think the three day rule should apply for returns and fitting rooms should be closed. I would also consider gloves if you're touching merchandise and masks. America is the center of the universe for COVID-19 and we should start acting like it. This won't go away by the summer, the vaccine isn't going to be available in the fall and we should be prepared for the long haul.
  • Posted on: 05/11/2020

    What should retailers do about social distancing renegades?

    I would treat these people the same way I would shoplifters. The difference is that they may be stealing people's lives rather than product. People seem to obey the rules at the beach -- no shirt, no shoes, no service -- so what's so different about this? This appears to be a red/blue issue when in fact it is a serious health issue that discrediting science won't solve as the short term result is death. People are freaking out because they have been cooped up for 60 days as evidenced by the scene at the local Mashpee, MA ice cream shop this weekend. Lets all just chill -- summer is just around the corner.

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