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: 12/04/2019

    The holiday season promises many unhappy returns for retailers

    Serialized inventory is a way to reduce/eliminate fraud in this area. This is a technique currently used in big ticket electronics that tracks the serial number of the product sold to a consumer. When the product is returned the returns management system matches up the product sold to the serial number on the e-receipt and rejects any mismatch. Retailers need to move to this technique for all product types as quickly as they can. Even if they can't yet do this for all items they need to at least create signage to warn fraudsters to ply their sinister trade elsewhere while respecting their loyal customer base. The last thing you want to do is to alienate your good customers by creating a process that punishes everyone for the sins of the few.
  • Posted on: 12/03/2019

    Why are brands so bad at identity resolution?

    Email is still the best way to identify a customer online but I believe whether a customer is shopping with a mobile device, a tablet, a laptop or in a store all these need to be considered online transactions. We must integrate the store into the equation and connect it in real-time. The missing offline transactions account for 85 percent of the purchase history for a customer but we treat it as if it doesn't exist because of our antiquated and siloed legacy systems. Loyalty programs, IP addresses, phone numbers and postal addresses are all valuable and need to be leveraged to insure accurate capture and attribution. The real challenge is to include what is referred to above as offline transactions. The stores need to be wired into the web transactions in real-time to create a unified approach. What good is it to know what I bought after I leave a store as opposed to talking to me electronically before checkout and across channels?
  • Posted on: 12/02/2019

    Mobile jumps out as retailers get a mixed start to the holiday season

    People don't want to waste time and mobile shopping-assisted in-store purchases, like BOPIS, are increasing sales and decreasing traffic. There is less wandering and more purchasing which seems to be consistent with the statistics above. This increase comes even without true omnichannel real-time inventory information with most retailers still using safety stock at store level to compensate for the one-day lag time caused by decentralized point of sale. When we are truly in a real-time mode both sales and margins will increase.
  • Posted on: 11/27/2019

    Big things are happening as Small Business Saturday turns 10

    People are ready for a change and not just politically. For the last 30-plus years family owned businesses have been gobbled up by large national and multi-national corporations. For the consumer this has resulted in products that are bland and poorly made. The profit margin these companies hope to achieve is created by cutting back on the quality of construction. A return to small local companies offers the consumer a chance to not only express their individual style but also shares the profit from the local business back to the community. I am a board member of Boston Main Streets Foundation where we are working to offer neighborhood businesses in Boston the same technology used by the big retailers. The goal is to level the playing field and allow some of the profit to remain local. We plan to shift these businesses from cash-only to virtual payment options and capture the new, younger non-cash customer.
  • Posted on: 11/26/2019

    Will IoT reinvent the supply chain?

    I believe IoT holds universal promise in retail. The supply chain benefit is obvious, but the store is where the big ROI is. The challenge for both the supply chain and the store is getting to a real time platform that reacts in a sense and respond mode similar to a biological model. Understanding inventory/sales/customer data via IoT tomorrow for what happened today is simply unacceptable, but almost all retailers function in this manner with a decentralized point of sale that is a day late and a dollar short. Until we change the supporting islands of automation into a real-time unified commerce platform we will not reap the benefits of this game changing technology.
  • Posted on: 11/25/2019

    Why is Sephora paying associates to leave shoppers alone?

    There is nothing more annoying than unwanted help except maybe no help at all. It is a fine line to walk but I believe Sephora is on the mark with the colored basket approach. This puts the customer in control of their journey and isn't that what this is all about?
  • Posted on: 11/21/2019

    Kroger brings the farm closer to the table

    It would be tough to scale this idea in an urban setting but it is a great idea and worth pursuing. The whole farm to table movement, the farmers market phenomenon and the move to more healthy options won't go away and Kroger is smart to pursue this strategy. It will be hard operationally to juggle the in-store process model so it is critical to capture this in the pilot locations so it can be replicated flawlessly on a grander scale. It is also critical to understand how the 25 other retailers who use the service today are doing it. Great move by Kroger!
  • Posted on: 11/20/2019

    Should Santa be a loyalty program perk?

    Harrods' famous Christmas Grotto is a much loved tradition in London and children look forward to seeing Santa every year. To deny that privilege because of expediency and convenience would be a mistake. It would only serve to send a message of exclusivity to the public. Public relations and giving back to the community is very important for a store like Harrods. Harrods could offer select dates and times to accommodate their top-tier customers but allowing only those spenders access to the Christmas Grotto would be off-putting. Many of us remember with nostalgia a trip downtown to view the animated Christmas windows and a visit to Santa. We might not have been "big spenders" but many of us now can afford to shop wherever we want. Harrods is forgetting the basic tenet of retail which is the lifetime value of the customer and creating memories for these children ensures a future for Harrods.
  • Posted on: 11/19/2019

    Can a Soho pop-up relaunch Tupperware’s party?

    If Tupperware wants to appeal to a new generation of ecologically-minded adults, they need to relaunch by changing to glass containers. It is widely known that chemicals in plastic leach into our bodies and microwaving only increases this exponentially. Glass containers are not widely available in the marketplace and when offered they are expensive. If Tupperware can find a way to mass market glass storage containers at a more affordable price point people will flock to their virtual door.
  • Posted on: 11/18/2019

    Will a purpose-driven site do good for Zappos?

    I believe that consumers really care about the social impact of their purchases and Zappos is spot-on with their approach. Toms has proven that giving back makes good business and social sense. There is a niche market of people who are aware of the social implications of their purchases and would rather channel their disposable income somewhere where it will give them the satisfaction of contributing to the greater good of society.
  • Posted on: 11/15/2019

    Is the environment Amazon’s Achilles heel or opportunity?

    Convenience seems to top everything. I am excited by the study results from MIT and believe once people understand the societal impact of their shipping and shopping decisions they will change their behavior. The waste in shipping is simply unsustainable. Plastic bubble wrap when newspaper would suffice, it's just crazy. Yesterday I received three separate shipments with three items each. A traditional retailer CONSOLIDATES the shipments, why can't Amazon take a cue from old school retail and order many but ship once?
  • Posted on: 11/14/2019

    Is ‘OK Boomer’ a merchandising opportunity?

    "OK Boomer" is a term meant to put older people down but, much like the phrase "she persists," it can be used instead to the Boomers' advantage. When it is embraced the moniker can symbolize the unique characteristics of this (my) special group. Retailers can capitalize on the "OK Boomer" niche, those born between 1946 and 1964, who grew up with the Vietnam and the Korean wars, the assassinations of the Kennedys, free love, birth control, the Beatles and many other cultural events. The styles that were popular during these cultural events and the events themselves are still relevant and can be adapted and targeted to the "OK Boomer" crowd. People love to be part of a group!
  • Posted on: 11/13/2019

    Retail apocalypse? How about a disruptor meltdown?

    I have always thought that a true brand needs to have a brick and mortar presence. Commodity items are one thing online, but specialty retail and furniture need the multi-sense experience. Return rates are still astronomical at 30% plus and with free delivery as the base line expectation, this is a tough business model to sustain. There will be a shakeout because at some point you need to make money from somewhere. Maybe it's advertising or membership and not the product.
  • Posted on: 11/12/2019

    What’s in store for retail in 2020?

    I believe the two most important trends that will affect retailing in 2020 and beyond are those listed above as support networks and eco-warriors. IoT (support networks) holds great promise for retailers today. However there are many devices talking but few listening to the IoT broadcast. Separate islands of IoT proliferate and IT needs to acquire a layer or platform to be the ears and eyes and leverage task management to turn raw data into action. There is a huge labor savings to be had here by automating functions, activities, tasks and steps through leveraging IoT data. Social responsibility (eco-warriors above) is an opportunity for retailers to map their offerings to their customers' emerging awareness. By leveraging technologies such as blockchain to capture the origin and journey of their products from farm to table or store, retailers will win customer loyalty and market share.
  • Posted on: 11/11/2019

    Why is Trader Joe’s hiding stuffed animals in its stores?

    I believe Trader Joe's understands the "theater" of shopping. If you engage the kids you secure the parents' loyalty. I love their idea of hide and seek and also love Whole Foods cooking classes that teach children healthy choice dining and snack habits. Lowe's offers woodworking classes for children with free kits for things like birdhouses. It doesn't just stop with young children as Meijer, the Michigan based superstore retailer, understands with their Back to College Meijer Mania event where they offer students bus transportation from campuses to their local Meijer store for a night of back-to-school shopping and celebrations, including a DJ, photo booth and interactive games and contests. These retailers understand the lifetime value of engaging their customers at an early age so they will win a customer for life. These are all creative ways to entice people to shop in-store instead of online.

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