Ken Morris

Managing Partner Cambridge Retail Advisors

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: 10/28/2020

    How can shop local be better incentivized?

    Shopping local is critical for your neighbors in this pandemic. I am volunteering my services to the Boston Main Streets Foundation (BMSF) to bring technology to retailers and restaurants in the 20 neighborhoods of Boston. Offering BOPIS and BOPAC has been critical for these businesses to survive and this scavenger hunt is a great way to drive traffic. At BMSF we are trying to level the technology playing field between national players and the single store operators left behind by the economic boom experienced by the national brands. Please buy local so your neighbors can weather the storm.
  • Posted on: 10/27/2020

    Chipotle battles escalating delivery costs

    The best path for Chipotle and other restaurants is to convert these guests to pick-up. The up to 30 percent cost is unprofitable and unsustainable. The customer is owned by these delivery services and that is the biggest challenge. If you don't own the customer you are destined to lose. The life time value (LTV) of the customer demands that you own the data. Converting to pick up and order orchestration solutions that are both technology- and process-based is the only way to make this work. You must own the data!
  • Posted on: 10/26/2020

    Where are curbside and BOPIS services falling short?

    Inventory accuracy has been a problem. With the hoarding mentality still in place it is still a problem. Items not being available because of safety stock issues and substitutions are rampant in grocery, and we need real time perpetual inventory information across platforms to truly make this a frictionless experience.
  • Posted on: 10/22/2020

    Are immersive technologies ready to build online buying trust?

    Immersive technologies are here to stay and have gotten an adoption curve push by COVID-19. There is no doubt that these technologies are a boon to online sales but I see the challenge being getting them to work in the post COVID in-store experience. Engaging the customer with as many of their five senses as possible is a retail concept that can't be replicated online. The store matters and tools to drive traffic to that experience via digital engagement that leverages these immersive technologies are well worth pursuing.
  • Posted on: 10/20/2020

    Will virtual recruiting and onboarding hurt seasonal hiring?

    I believe the quality of hires will increase using this technique. Virtual hiring and training enforce a consistent criteria and lessen the variability in seasonal hiring. The convenient and frictionless process will increase the pool of potential hires so I see this as yet another pandemic-induced reduction of the adoption curve of HR technologies.
  • Posted on: 10/13/2020

    Will FAO Schwarz make Target a bigger player in toys?

    The toy category is critically important this holiday season given the forced cocooning we are all experiencing. This partnership between FAO and Target is a great idea for both brands. The legendary iconic position of FAO coupled with the discount panache of Targét will be hard to resist.
  • Posted on: 10/12/2020

    What’s behind the Amazon/SpartanNash deal?

    Amazon is aiming to put grocers out of business. They are following the money. Books, toys, electronics, and now grocery. Where is mister Sherman when you need him?
  • Posted on: 10/09/2020

    Is Petco really a health and wellness retailer?

    Pets are part of the family and I fully support this move by Petco. The pandemic has created a cocooning environment where the family, pets included, are the nucleus of our world. We need to give them the care and feeding they deserve and Petco is reflecting the lifestyle of its customers.
  • Posted on: 10/08/2020

    Can ‘boo-bags’ save Halloween?

    Any idea that promotes the Halloween theme is a good idea for children, their parents and retailers. This is a tough time for everyone and with the specter of COVID-19 hovering around us this is an especially haunting holiday (sorry, couldn't resist). This is cocooning time so home themed Zoom parties will be the norm with perhaps some scavenger hunts and prizes awarded. It's time for retailers and parents to get creative and make this stay at home Halloween truly special.
  • Posted on: 10/07/2020

    Will a new round of panic buying empty grocery store shelves?

    I believe the time is now to impose limits on purchases. The supply chain has been optimized for traditional demand and hoarding product breaks the chain. Ramping up new factory capacity to meet hoarding demand takes too long and is not a feasible solution. We can't let the experience we had in the spring repeat itself.
  • Posted on: 10/06/2020

    Are bookkeeping systems ruining retailers’ ability to serve customers?

    This is just another example of how scorekeeping wins over logic. It gets back to silos of people, process and technology. We need unified systems in real time, processes that make the customer the center of the universe and people to get the job done right across the channels. We have worked in a number of retailers where stores are credited with sales from their inventory. Because of a lack of real time inventory systems many of today's buy online and ship from store orders have to be claimed by a sending store. If there is no incentive to credit the store with the sale there is little incentive to claim an order.
  • Posted on: 10/05/2020

    Are employees or execs holding back data-driven cultures?

    Many executives focus on the outliers. Those outliers frequently call into question the total benefit of the data driven approach so squeaky clean data is a must to change the culture. Education is also important as everyone who interacts with the data needs to understand the tools. It is critical that the person scanning the product at POS understands their role as well as the CEO. Gut feel backed by science is a winning combination.
  • Posted on: 10/01/2020

    Will Amazon’s palm reader reveal the future of retail payment?

    This seems like a non-invasive technique that is frictionless and bypasses what could create privacy issues subject to legislated bans. Technologies that eliminate touch at POS are both customer and retailer friendly. The customer benefits from the safety of the no touch technology while the retailer gains faster throughput for the point of sale.
  • Posted on: 09/30/2020

    Is the Halloween retail opportunity becoming less scary?

    I believe Halloween will be a success for retailers with home decorating both inside and out leading the way. People need to celebrate something in these dark times so why not break out on Halloween this year? Zoom will be featured prominently as well and may just start a new holiday tradition that will live on forever.
  • Posted on: 09/29/2020

    Store IoT platforms are set to go mainstream

    The pandemic has the potential to take three to five years out of the adoption curve for IoT. The challenge we face is putting together the infrastructure to enable this paradigm shift. To take full advantage of the "network effect" we must orchestrate the disparate islands of automation into a sense and respond, real-time entity. Real-time retail is something I have been preaching for over 10 years but the adoption has been slow. Leveraging IoT has the potential to put hard savings into the ROI calculation by reducing headcount. It is hard to justify infrastructure investment but adding something other than increasing sales into the ROI changes the equation.

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