PROFILE

Oliver Guy

Global Industry Architect, Microsoft Retail

Oliver Guy is a Global Solution Architect at Microsoft. An advisor to companies and leaders seeking to innovate and compete more effectively, Oliver has significant experience in digital transformation and technology strategy.

With over 25 years in technology Oliver has worked with the biggest names in retail and consumer goods across Europe, North America and Asia Pacific. Deep experience in supply chain, omni-channel strategy and optimization enables Oliver to provide broad and creative insight on how data can drive incremental value through both optimization and transformation of the enterprise.

Prior to Microsoft, Oliver worked for Software AG where he led retail Industry Strategy.

Before that Oliver was part of the European Management team at Oracle Retail — his team being responsible for Retail focused Solution Consulting across Europe.

Before that, Oliver worked for Infor in a Solution Consulting role. Oliver started his technology career implementing supply chain optimization solutions at Manugistics – now part of Blue Yonder – for customers Europe and Asia Pacific.

To learn more, visit: microsoft.com/en-us/industry/retail/microsoft-cloud-for-retail

Oliver Guy is a Global Industry Architect at Microsoft. An advisor to companies and leaders seeking to innovate and compete more effectively, Oliver has significant experience in digital transformation and technology strategy. With over 25 years in technology Oliver has worked with the biggest names in retail and consumer goods across Europe, North America and Asia Pacific. Deep experience in supply chain, omni-channel strategy and optimization enables Oliver to provide broad and creative insight on how data can drive incremental value through both optimization and transformation of the enterprise. Prior to Microsoft, Oliver worked for Software AG where he led retail Industry Strategy. Before that Oliver was part of the European Management team at Oracle Retail – his team being responsible for Retail focused Solution Consulting across Europe. Before that, Oliver worked for Infor in a Solution Consulting role. Oliver started his technology career implementing supply chain optimization solutions at Manugistics - now part of Blue Yonder - for customers Europe and Asia Pacific. Any views represented here are exclusively my own.
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  • Posted on: 12/02/2022

    Is the Kroger-Albertsons merger really a retail media deal?

    General Electric launched a finance division to help families afford fridges and sell more fridges -- eventually GE Capital became much larger than the appliance business. Similar things happened in the automotive industry. Consequently there is some logic about similar things happening in retail. Data has hailed as a highly valuable tool and advertising is clearly the way in which it can be utilised -- for me this is the way forward for retailers.
  • Posted on: 12/01/2022

    Retailers are using newfound clout to put the squeeze on suppliers

    Retailers are the consumer's last defense against inflation. Keeping prices down as wallets tighten is a potentially huge differentiator for retailers. Focus on purchasing power has been on the cards for some years -- with retailers creating buying groups to pool purchasing power. At the same time, retailers need to increase productivity and technology has to be a key resource to enable this.
  • Posted on: 11/30/2022

    Can Alexa find a path to monetization?

    I had anticipated that it would lead toward commoditisation of Amazon's products in that you ask for rice to be added to the cart and Amazon branded rice gets added rather than someone else's. Perhaps that will come, but for me I felt that was the way Amazon would monetize Alexa -- thus it becoming a near-default sales channel.
  • Posted on: 11/28/2022

    Black Friday is back as record number of Americans are expected to go shopping

    When the numbers are out it will be interesting to see. What has struck me this year however in the UK, is that a number of smaller retailers are pushing back against Black Friday - some on environmental grounds, others for different reasons. A specialist fishing retailer -- Fishlocker -- claims that 80% of Black Friday purchases will end up in land fill. I definitely feel there has been less noise about Black Friday in the UK this year. It will be interesting to see what happens in years to come.
  • Posted on: 11/23/2022

    Will John Lewis or Publix win the RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge?

    Both of these adverts brought tears to my eyes. There. I have said it. It is really nice to see a UK advert being compared in this way. What hit me about both of these adverts is that product placement is non-existent -- or so subtle that I cannot see it. This is very different to adverts of old, where product was often centre. Both are selling brand but also sentiment and tugging on the heart strings -- focusing on togetherness at this time of year. The objective: think togetherness. If I am the core customer then both of these connect with me. The Publix one is super at attempting to span generations. John Lewis focuses on family, but in a single setting. Emotion sells. Full stop.
  • Posted on: 11/21/2022

    Can Walmart hold onto the new, wealthier customers it is picking up?

    Walmart may like to take a look at how the discounters -- Aldi and Lidl -- kept hold of customers after the last downturn. Following the global financial crisis, Aldi and Lidl acquired many new customers and kept some -- perhaps not all -- by focusing on the things those customers wanted as economic conditions improved. This included things like more luxurious food items from an assortment perspective, but not necessarily to service areas such as omnichannel fulfillment.
  • Posted on: 11/21/2022

    Is durability a more sustainable selling point than sustainability?

    "Buy cheap or buy twice" -- an old expression but when it comes to product durability, is very relevant. In a circular economy durability becomes more and more important but also in terms of overall environmental footprint. Persuading consumers to spend more money on more durable items can however be difficult. In this arena I love the example of washing machines where in the UK they can be purchased for around £200 but can range to as high as 10 times that price. In terms of life-span the cheaper models may last less time and hence have a much higher environmental cost.
  • Posted on: 11/15/2022

    Gap is now selling on Amazon. Desperation or genius move?

    Observers of Gap will know that when they closed all their UK stores they entered into a joint venture agreement with Next retail. Next manage the Gap website and also have Gap products in some of their stores in a concession type area. Next have a phenomenal friction free order, collect and return operation from which Gap benefit -- allowing product to be collected in store next day but also returned. Some might question if Gap's move in the UK could be emulated in North America -- however, that would rely on finding the right partner to place product in a physical environment as well as executing the online sales. For now the big question will be how stores are measured in terms of sales and footfall -- based on traditional measures of performance some store managers would worry that customers would enter stores to try on then buy the specific colour of choice from Amazon.
  • Posted on: 11/15/2022

    How can meetings be made more effective?

    In many ways, modern tools for video based meetings make setting up a meeting too easy -- vs finding and booking a room. This could be part of the issue here as the physical capacity constraint has gone away. It can become a vicious circle -- you need a 5 minute conversation with someone, you cannot get hold of them so you book a 30 minute slot -- which contributes to their diary being filled up for the next person. It is something we all need to be conscious of. Tools can help -- for example Microsoft Teams has the option of 25 minute meetings and tools like Viva encourage booking of Focus time (disclosure -- I am a Microsoft Employee), but it still needs self-discipline to make judgements about meetings and good manners from your colleagues to book meetings that are appropriate.
  • Posted on: 11/15/2022

    Will retailers use facial recognition tech to reshape store layouts?

    Fascinating. The ability to be able to provide this kind of insight (anonymously) to merchandisers is amazing. The question organisations need to ask is are merchandisers ready for the insight and do they know what to do with it? Extracting insight from one source like this is one thing -- but combining together with other insights is where it becomes really powerful. The ultimate will be able to make AI driven assortment and promotional adjustment change recommendations based on the combination of this insight with other details such as incoming supply. Doing this in near-real-time requires logic and rapid execution capability at the store level -- few stores have the necessary infrastructure to allow this as yet -- but will come eventually.
  • Posted on: 11/07/2022

    Will dynamic pricing work for restaurants?

    In food service operations spreading demand across the day makes sense because it avoids creating a queue and causing delays that impacts customer satisfaction. Providing offers to encourage dining at slow periods makes sense and this has been a form of dynamic pricing that has existed for many years - examples include fixed price pre-theater dining menus or meal deal promotions for purchases before 11 a.m.
  • Posted on: 11/07/2022

    Aldi and Walmart are turning back the clock on inflation for Thanksgiving

    Given the price increases in many areas and the potential challenges ahead it would be amazing if people were not more price sensitive than last year. Amazing how grocers are seeing this and responding in order to potentially capture market share in the short term and possibly convert customers for the longer term!
  • Posted on: 11/07/2022

    Is it time to shut down the free returns party?

    This topic keeps coming around. Every time a retailer makes a change to their policy it gets talked about. It is a major cost for retailers and there seem to be no silver bullets. While some retailers make returns free and friction free it will remain a competitive tool. Amazon's approach is amazing for consumers but raises a lot of questions about sustainability and profitability. In the UK the fashion and homewares retailer Next have an incredibly slick returns process - which tied to an incredible omnichannel selling approach acts as a huge differentiation tool.
  • Posted on: 11/02/2022

    Greenpeace study trashes plastic recycling

    This issue has worried me for many years and is something I feel strongly about. In the UK there have been a number of media investigations looking at what happens to plastic waste collected for recycling with some of it shown to be exported to developing nations for processing - without governance to ensure it is properly processed. In some cases it has either been placed in landfills or manually processed by children and low-paid causal employees. It is good that more visibility is being generated - I do believe this is a bigger issue than people realize. One of my relatives lives in another European country famed for excellent recycling programs -- and even she is skeptical regarding how responsibly the plastics are recycled.
  • Posted on: 10/24/2022

    Are pop-ups ready to become a permanent fixture in retail?

    I have felt pop-ups should have a stronger role in retail for many years. My logic being that in a retail store, people return regularly for a change in assortment -- if they do that then why not return to a shopping destination (town or mall) in order to see a change in retailers? The "when it's gone, it's gone" approach works well for retailers encouraging sales -- "the middle aisle" in Aldi and Lidl are perfect examples -- so why not in a shopping destination. There is an exception, however, that these store need -- excellent post-sale customer service with free returns in the event of a problem. This avoids the issue of the consumer being reluctant to buy because they are worried the store will not be there next week if they pick the wrong size!

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