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: 12/30/2020

    Is it time for retailers to reconsider Instacart?

    I think Instacart is a broken model. It does little for a grocery retailer as they sometimes lose money on an order. Instacart owns the customer not the retailer and that loss of lifetime value can be a death knell for them. Instacart people clog the aisles with long-running shopping trips elongated by constant online interactions with customers in a world where we have limited occupancy, one way aisles and 6 foot social distancing. Retailers need to use internal fleets or convince people via discount or promotion to leverage curbside pickup.
  • Posted on: 12/29/2020

    Are the benefits of ghost kitchens more spectral than real?

    I don't think they are overplaying anything. They are trying to survive and this is one way they can make it through 2021. I believe ghost kitchens make sense for national brands going forward. They have the brand equity and scale to make ghost kitchens a complement to their total business portfolio. This isn't an all or nothing proposition but a lifeline to live another day with the potential to stick around forever.
  • Posted on: 12/28/2020

    How do you grow sales the week after Christmas?

    Anything you can do to create frictionless returns is a win for the customer, the associate and the retailer. In recent studies we have done in brick and mortar retail the number one customer pain point is returns. This is where you win brand enthusiasts or create social enemies so it is critical to get this right. Most people buy something else when they enter your store so smile, make it pain free, and even offer some small incentive. You just may create a loyal customer.
  • Posted on: 12/04/2020

    Meijer gives curbside pickup customers an early Christmas gift

    Never underestimate the power of positive reinforcement! This was a great pay-it-forward move by Meijer. They will win customers loyalty forever with this move. They understand the lifetime value (LTV) and recency, frequency and monetary value (RFM) of a customer. The 80 percent/20 percent rule is a retail reality where 20 percent of customers account for 80 percent of the sales and this 20 percent is fluid with customers entering and exiting the segment because of good or bad customer moments. This is a great customer moment to build LTV and RFM.
  • Posted on: 12/03/2020

    Best Buy shrinks sales floors for a more fulfilling experience

    I believe that reconfiguring to accommodate pickup and ship-from-store is a move that Best Buy had to make. The increased velocity of BOPIS and BOPAC sales will not go away. We have taken three to five years out of the online adoption curve and that genie is not going back in the bottle for this segment of retail. This pandemic will have a similar effect as the Great Depression had on our grandparents and great grandparents. They hoarded product, saved tin foil, canned vegetables, etc. for a lifetime and their behavior had a similar effect on their children and so to will our current COVID-19 crisis.
  • Posted on: 12/02/2020

    Sephora to set up shops in 850 Kohl’s stores

    I think this is a bonus for both Kohl's and Sephora. This partnership generates traffic and additional sales to Kohl's as once people are in the store they generally buy other products. It also drives a younger demographic to Kohl's and makes it a destination shopping experience. Sephora benefits from the over 65 million potentially new customers, the cross shopping and the digital integration. This will hurt the J.C. Penney turnaround but it is certainly the best move for both Kohl's and Sephora.
  • Posted on: 12/01/2020

    Does COVID-19 provide retailers with new opportunities to bond with customers?

    Retailers have always been focused on labor savings and less so on customer experience. The pandemic is forcing retailers to focus on customer convenience to match the new customer journey. It is no longer good enough just to focus on product, price, place and promotion but a fifth "P" must be added as in patron, purchaser. The customer has changed and we need to morph with them to keep their loyalty.
  • Posted on: 11/30/2020

    Was Black Friday a bust?

    I believe it is somewhere in between. Online sales skyrocketed on Black Friday which is what we expected to make up for most of the shortfall of in-store shopping and will continue today and throughout the week. People will still be spending this holiday season to relieve the boredom and to show their appreciation for those they love.
  • Posted on: 11/24/2020

    Target CEO points to one-stop shopping as key to chain’s success

    Target has implemented a number of customer focused digital engagement initiatives that are complementary to their one-stop shopping journey. By adding these initiatives to their existing "essential" status they have made themselves, in my opinion, the leading customer experience big box retailer in the country.
  • Posted on: 11/06/2020

    Will store certifications make customers feel safer?

    I believe this will get more people back in-store. We are once again peaking for new cases so the ease in restrictions has essentially backfired. We need to get more vigilant in mask enforcement and other safety standards until we have a vaccine in place. The store is not dead but needs to adapt to life today and match the new customer journey.
  • Posted on: 11/05/2020

    Stop & Shop goes back to the future with nostalgic brands

    I think the impact of the pandemic will last a lifetime so this is no short term phenomenon. Stop & Shop has hit upon a trend, like mid-century modern, that resonates with people now and I believe it will hold true for some time.
  • Posted on: 11/04/2020

    Grocery workers continue to be at a high risk from COVID-19

    Grocers definitely need to reassess their protections. People wear masks but many have them below their noses or don't have a proper fit. Grocers must mandate masks and understand what to do when someone refuses, they also need to enforce the correct wearing of masks with the nose covered. Gloves should also be used by staff with cash-only lines to limit touches, and grocers should audit their POS use cases to eliminate touches where possible.
  • Posted on: 11/03/2020

    Will Walmart’s decision to scrap robots have far-ranging effects?

    I agree with Walmart's decision to scrap the robots for taking inventory but their usage in micro-fulfillment centers (MFCs) is far from over. The robotic MFC technology is the wave of the future and they have picked a superior partner with the Alert product. During the height of the pandemic my New Hampshire brethren didn't have to wait two weeks for a grocery delivery slot, they were getting next-day grocery delivery while I felt lucky if I could get into the queue for delivery 14 days away. This robotic technology frees up the store space for shoppers and not Instacart people manually clogging the aisles and it gives grocers ownership of the customer vs. Instacart.
  • Posted on: 11/02/2020

    Do online grocers have a transparency problem?

    I feel it will require an overhaul of many grocery sites. The online grocery shopping experience was in its infancy before COVID-19 hit with many sites simply acting as an extension of the store experience. There was very little thought given to the capability of gathering rich content that can be sliced and diced by their consumers to give them exactly what they want and need much more easily than the hunt and peck approach required in-store. This is a real opportunity to cement this shift to e-grocery and expand its utility for this discerning customer base.
  • Posted on: 10/30/2020

    Will Walmart’s new lab stores cook up something big?

    I believe this is a great idea. To mix the tech staff with store associates in a live lab environment will undoubtably lead to better customer focused solutions that are battle tested and ready to be rolled out to the entire chain. This added focus on the customer in a pandemic sensitized world will reap benefits for years to come.

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