PROFILE

Kenneth Leung

Retail and Customer Experience Expert

Kenneth Leung was the enterprise industry director at Avaya, responsible for vertical industry strategies.

Kenneth previously was with Cisco Systems, with the last position as senior marketing strategy manager for Internet of Everything campaign. His roles at Cisco included development of private sector industries strategy and messaging at Cisco as well as retail industry marketing.

Prior to Cisco, he worked at IBM software group in WebSphere Commerce and Information Management groups with responsibility in marketing management for retail and e-commerce. Before joining IBM, Kenneth was retail industry director for Informix Software where he was responsible for market management and programs.

Kenneth Leung is currently working on his first marketing book and pursuing future opportunities. Learn more at:about.me/kennethleung

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  • Posted on: 08/05/2020

    Will shortages shortchange soft goods recovery?

    I think it will be spotty because some categories have a glut in inventory, like workwear, while leisure and workout wear (whether people are really working out in it is a different question) probably moved online and stores like Target and Walmart were open the entire time. Some categories have faced a restock issue given factory closures (in this case Crocs is also being cautious, I am sure, even as more people bought Crocs for wearing at home) but others face a glut of out-of-season inventory.
  • Posted on: 08/04/2020

    Is now a good time to launch a retail startup?

    With uncertainty comes opportunities. There is definitely a lot of downside to starting anything right now, but if you have a product that consumers need during the downturn, you may find costs a little lower with talent and IT infrastructure. Also as other companies downsize certain assets maybe available in secondary and liquidation markets. If the business model and capitalization is on point, there is no good or bad time to launch.
  • Posted on: 08/03/2020

    Is the future of malls outside?

    Some of the malls in urban areas have no choice for outdoor alternatives. Also, when winter hits, outdoor malls aren't going work very well in many areas. If there are big parking lots right now, pop-ups are obviously a short term solution. Also, if you have large crowds gathering outside, you still have an issue of spreading COVID by proximity. Long term is, we need a cure/vaccine for COVID.
  • Posted on: 07/29/2020

    Will Amazon become the go-to place to buy face masks?

    Amazon is very good at adapting and setting up a mask storefront; not that hard for them given they already have the search engine technology. It is a matter of putting in the curation and ensuring enough reputable suppliers are available. The law just gave them an event to tie to the launch. In the US, mask use is still -- sadly -- a divisive subject, so Amazon probably will launch it quietly.
  • Posted on: 07/28/2020

    Has retail adaptation become more about survival than competitive edge?

    Right now it is about survival unless you are the few well capitalized retailers who can operate on sales of necessities. I am sure the few of them are planning market share gains and tracking competitors activities looking for new opportunities to protect and grow their customer base. I think we are facing a "new normal" for retailing for at least till end of calendar 2021 in terms of consumer preferences, then the rest is driven by income and employment.
  • Posted on: 07/26/2020

    Has retail permanently downsized?

    Permanent is a long time. I think brick and mortar store front had over inventoried in many areas and in the wrong format, this pandemic accelerated and forced a reset in those areas. Retail sales figures in total will recover as the employment figures recover, the type of spending and where it goes will change.
  • Posted on: 07/20/2020

    Why does it take a crisis for retailers to get innovative?

    In this case, retailers are faced with a massive shutdown of stores and no way around it. The traditional process, legal and HR barriers had to be broken and rebuilt in short order for retailers to survive. Some legacy retailers couldn't make the shift and I think will go under as the financial resources drain and outlook worsens over the next few months as the shutdown continues and re-openings are cancelled in certain regions where outbreak is increasing. The brutal truth is those that could adapt did so and survived but many of those that didn't adapt are in bankruptcy.
  • Posted on: 07/13/2020

    Starbucks becomes latest retailer to make masks mandatory

    Smart decision since it is about protection of associates and the customers. There will be a minority who continue to dispute the need, but at the end of the day, science from experts hopefully prevails over so-called opinions. Science may not be perfect or simple, but I will take that over simple opinions.
  • Posted on: 07/07/2020

    Has the pandemic changed shopping behaviors forever?

    Forever is a big word. I think it is too early to tell because a lot of the current behavior is forced (not eating out, less visits to bars, getting everything delivered) because of COVID-19-driven shelter-in-place orders. Once the restrictions are lifted and the cure/vaccine is found, it is likely you will see certain behavior reversed. We also have lower spending with higher unemployment with certain sectors like travel not rebounding for at least one year. For every person that loves full time working from home, there are people who can't wait to return to the office to get out of the house.
  • Posted on: 07/06/2020

    Has COVID-19 exacerbated online return challenges?

    I wonder if the liberal returns policy is simply unsustainable with increased COVID-19 costs for collection and disposal. I think certain categories like food or intimate apparel simply cannot be shopped online and returned anymore due to contamination concerns. Costco did that with certain items and most would agree there was no backlash (except for someone hoarding cases of toilet paper or rice). I also believe it is an environmental impact issue between packaging- and shipping-driven pollution. Would it make sense for online retailing to have a tiered return policy based on product categories and return rate by customer? Does the fight for frictionless customer experience have to be balanced by operational and environmental costs?
  • Posted on: 06/25/2020

    Will Americans keep snacking at higher levels post-lockdown?

    I think as COVID-19 goes into the second wave (based on the rise of cases we are seeing and hospitalization rate) we are going to continue to see indulgent snacking and comfort food remain strong. I suspect even though some groups are doing healthy living at home, based on their social media posts, significant numbers are choosing comfort.
  • Posted on: 06/19/2020

    Will a PPE retailer make it in the mall?

    I see it more as a kiosk, same type that sells cell phone accessories. Even after the epidemic goes away I do wonder if US will follow Asia and make PPE masks and shields a fashion/lifestyle norm. I know in the news we hear about anti-mask protest and using it as a political statement, but in the end of recurring waves of respiratory diseases and continued aging population more susceptible to even flu variants, masks will slowly become the social norm. I think it will be interesting if more celebrities start adorning masks that will affect the overall stance.
  • Posted on: 06/17/2020

    Is same-day delivery a sign of better things to come for Staples?

    Always good to have choices. By offering same day with Instacart it gains mindshare with the home office crowd who wants it now and is willing to pay the premium, but also puts it into consideration if the customer goes on the web site, looks at the markup and says "you know, it can wait" and buy it using normal delivery methods.
  • Posted on: 06/15/2020

    Do retailers need a chief health officer?

    I am not sure most retailers can afford a chief health officer position, however in the short term, they need to retain experts that can be leveraged in HR and store operations to set policies for employees and processes for customer interaction.
  • Posted on: 06/09/2020

    Has Macy’s secured its future success with its new financing deal?

    Financing helps address the short run due to closure from COVID and moving to e-Commerce. In the long run, it is about merchandising and customer experience that needs to change to make the store relevant to consumers. Simply because you are the last department store standing does not mean you are successful.

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