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: 08/03/2020

    Trader Joe’s says ‘never mind’ on private label name changes

    Trader Joe's has taken the right stance here. There is a difference between fun and racism. These names are not racist but in today's culture it seems that even things that are not objectionable or offensive get categorized as such. We need to carefully weigh the social and political implications of what we keep and what we discard and avoid the whiplash effect that influencers currently spawn.
  • Posted on: 07/31/2020

    Nov. 2021: How should retail plan for a return to normal?

    I'm an optimist, but I agree with professor Emanuel. A return to normal is not on the horizon until fall 2021 at best, so retailers and restaurants need to get creative. They need to figure out the new customer journey for their brand and optimize people, process and technology to support this altered state. eComm, BOPIS, BOPAC and delivery are all fundamental to success in this pandemic era and beyond. The current situation is simply hastening the move to digital transformation.
  • Posted on: 07/29/2020

    How can retailers differentiate curbside delivery?

    Curbside pickup is maybe the only way restaurants can survive in this nightmare. One of my clients, an Ethiopian restaurant called Blue Nile in Boston, has simplified their menu to five items and created a bundle of products within each menu item. They are thriving in this pandemic because they created a curated selection of their best loved products, packaged in a kit form featuring multiple courses and including wine at an attractive price point. It's all about the customer journey.
  • Posted on: 07/28/2020

    Has retail adaptation become more about survival than competitive edge?

    It is business survival for the next 12-18 months. We need a vaccine to bring us back to some sense of normal. Even in this pandemic, savvy retailers are making moves to give them competitive advantage. One of my pro-bono clients made a shift to BOPAC, changed their menu to a simplified bundled approach with only five items on the menu and is now doing more business today than before the pandemic. It can be done with a strategy that considers our current reality and capabilities and leverages them to complement the newly altered customer journey.
  • Posted on: 07/27/2020

    Will COVID-19 bludgeon Halloween sales?

    I believe there is pent-up demand for some fun and the kids have been cooped up for far too long. We will match sales from last year with a decided shift to the e-commerce channel. Even if they can't go door to door they will still be buying costumes and consuming vast quantities of candy. This holiday will take on more importance this Halloween.
  • Posted on: 07/24/2020

    Retail shrink rose to all-time high in 2019

    Technology is a two edged sword. When you implement self-checkout you obviously open yourself up to a higher shrink risk. One real solution lies in the promise of advanced Business Intelligence (BI) that not only tells you what happened (descriptive BI), why it happened (diagnostic BI), what will happen (predictive BI) but what we should do about it (prescriptive BI). Prescriptive BI leverages task management with closed loop notification and escalation capability that insures follow up on an analytic insight. This technology holds the most promise to reduce shrink.
  • Posted on: 07/17/2020

    Is retail’s contactless future here now?

    The need for contactless transacting goes far beyond a touch-free experience at checkout, it also includes the reduction of physical interaction with on-shelf products. Technologies such as QR codes and near-field communication (NFC) can be utilized for product information to minimize physical interactions in the store and avoid touch-screen kiosks. Self-scan and go apps were gaining traction before the pandemic, as consumers appreciate the convenience of scanning items from the operator’s app on their phone. By self-scanning and paying via credit card on file, the consumer avoids waiting in checkout lines, avoids touching almost everything and it enables them to ensure all items were recorded at the right price. The adoption of self-scan and go may accelerate as it offers consumers the benefit of less contact with store associates.
  • Posted on: 07/16/2020

    How murky has COVID-19 made retail data?

    The traditional models are essentially broken at this point. Relying on LY and LLY just won't cut it going forward. Many of the currently closed and/or severely impacted locations will need to be treated like new stores. The reverse of that is true for those businesses like grocery who have had a big increase in sales. They will need to temper that surge next year when their historical movement comes into play in their models. The big gains in eCommerce sales will also need to factored in. I believe we have increased the online sales adoption rate by 3-5 years in some segments of retail like which will have long lasting implications and hasten adoption of solutions like micro-fulfillment in semi-dark or dark stores.
  • Posted on: 07/15/2020

    Nike debuts member-driven concept

    Experiential retail is the wave of the future and Nike is a leader with their portfolio of retail concepts. Cambridge Retail Advisors recently published a white paper called Flipping the Script - Transforming the Store to a Stage, that illustrates the concept well. The Nike Fit technology provides the service that can't be duplicated online. It creates an in-store intimacy that allows Nike to capture at least 30 minutes to make an impression on a member. There is no other kind of advertisement or marketing ploy that can capture frontal lobe awareness like an in-store experience and Nike is cementing their brand in the mind of their customer.
  • Posted on: 07/14/2020

    Will battery power energize retailing performance?

    I believe that battery power and 5G will finally deliver the promise of real-time retail. We have been mired in a 50-year-old paradigm where we are constantly looking at yesterday's data. Inventory is through last night not now/today/this minute so we constantly disappoint our customers on their journey. We limit the creativity of our marketing so we communicate with them when they are not in the store rather than real time where we can make a difference. I'm sick of ridiculously long receipts that promise a discount or reward on my NEXT trip. With longer battery life and 5G we will be able to revolutionize the customer journey to be whatever we and our customers want. Whether it is social significance, sustainability, environmental impact or diversity of a customer's journey we will be able to bring that journey to life by leveraging these enabling technologies.
  • Posted on: 07/13/2020

    Will Boomers and Gen X keep shopping online post-pandemic?

    I don't think we will see a return to pre-COVID-19 shopping habits. People are very concerned with staying healthy and don't want to risk infection needlessly. We need to do a better job as retailers to improve the customer journey for delivery, BOPIS and BOPAC. We can't be satisfied with the broken Instacart model and the gouging currently going on with the food delivery vendors eating all the profit from restaurant sales. We have a scorpion and frog parable going on in the space where the delivery companies are killing their partner by overcharging. Few of these businesses can sustain 30 percent delivery fees when their in-restaurant capacity is at 50 percent.
  • Posted on: 07/07/2020

    Has the pandemic changed shopping behaviors forever?

    This is an interesting question and I believe it is and will be an age-specific response. Generally my thought is that the older population (those 40 years old and up) will have their purchasing behavior changed forever. Folks 16-39 years old will be less affected as they will exhibit behaviors that are similar to what they are now doing which seems to be more open to the heard immunity concept and in my opinion less likely to be affected forever. Younger children 1-15 years old will embrace the values of their parents and reflect a behavior that is changed forever. Retailers as indicated by Cambridge Retail Advisors COVID-19 Impact Study believe that retail and dining will be changed forever.
  • Posted on: 07/06/2020

    Will Wegmans need a post-pandemic makeover?

    I believe Wegmans should trim assortments and switch some stores to a semi-dark model with robotic pick and pack capabilities for customer pickup. Micro-fulfillment in a store footprint is the model of the future. I believe the grocery store of the future will provide a combination of customer browsing for perishables like fruit, vegetables, meat, prepared foods and deli. While ambient, chilled and frozen product is picked electronically in a high density cube that picks in-store orders along with pick up and delivery. These solutions are available, affordable and amazing.
  • Posted on: 06/26/2020

    Will a smaller Macy’s be a better Macy’s?

    This is a smart move by Macy's. The reality is that they have A, B, C and D stores with the grades denoting exactly how they perform. Macy's needs to shutter the C and D locations and concentrate on their huge online business. Their Bluemercury concept is a winner and I see the curated idea with a smaller footprint and local product as another innovation that will help reinvent the brand.
  • Posted on: 06/25/2020

    Will expanded fresh and frozen food selection drive Target’s pickup business?

    This is a winning strategy for Target. I happened to be shopping there yesterday and was surprised at the quality, the selection (they actually had bleach) and the price. There is clearly a move to BOPAC which won't be toggling back after this pandemic. In a recent survey by Cambridge Retail Advisors 56 percent of C-level executives feel that it is likely or very likely that consumers will move exclusively to BOPIS or BOPAC. The challenge will be to integrate pickup within the footprint as the walk-around fulfillment model of folks like Instacart is broken, causing too much congestion and extended shopping time due to picker/customer interaction. Micro-fulfillment is one answer to this problem in a dark or semi-dark (hybrid) store environment.

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