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: 06/20/2022

    Is Walmart about to launch a new British invasion?

    This will be an interesting one to watch. Certainly pro-Brexit politicians will look to see if initiatives like this can yield political capital. It also may be used as an example to aid discussions around free trade. If this is a longer-term, wider strategy, starting first in the UK may be driven by a perception that they can iron out any issues easier due to a common language.
  • Posted on: 06/20/2022

    Ultra-fast delivery may burn out or fade away

    Fascinating question -- one I had been wondering about given the threat to consumer prices that many western economies are currently facing. As consumers look at cutting back, one area where they may choose to focus is eliminating rapid delivery -- something that needs improved planning. Certainly many online forums focused on saving money focus on diligent meal planning and careful shopping -- where these practices are adopted it could well result in a fall in demand.
  • Posted on: 06/13/2022

    Should retailers charge for curbside pickup?

    This is a tricky one as for some grocers it was offered as a cheaper to operate alternative to delivery -- the logic being that it saves delivery driver time, equipment and fuel. However it still requires labour (or specialised equipment) in order to pick the orders -- something that in theory saves time for the consumer. Because it has been offered for free in the past it may be relevant, when introducing a charge, to highlight additional benefits compared to previously that consumers are attaining.
  • Posted on: 06/13/2022

    Food prices are going up, up, up. Inflation is tough, tough, tough.

    The biggest issue with inflation right now is that it is approaching a level not seen for 40 years -- therefore there are no business executives who have experience managing in such a situation. Grocers are caught in the firing line as their costs rise but consumers are struggling -- yet shareholders still demand a return. The big difference between now and 40 years ago is that retailers have something that is hugely valuable they use in order to offset some of the price rises: Data. Data and data analysis can be used to understand customers and how they shop thus improving targeting, it can provide unique insights into business operations to eliminate inefficiencies, it can be used to reduce fraud and it can also be used to enable a lucrative new revenue stream by means of retail media networks.
  • Posted on: 06/06/2022

    Why are retailers struggling so hard to balance inventory?

    This is not a surprise. Retailers have struggled for years managing inventory and it has become more and more difficult as more channels have been added. Disruption associated with COVID has on only added to the problems. Visibility is key -- the old saying that if you cannot measure it you cannot manage it. The problem is there are so many locations with different systems that getting a single view is tough. Retailers have to prioritise visibility first before they can do anything else.
  • Posted on: 06/06/2022

    Does Lululemon have to sweat inflation?

    It could be interesting to see if Lululemon consider launching a more cost-effective sub-brand to address some of these concerns. These are tricky approaches as they risk devaluing or cannibalising the core brand -- however, others have done this. Lululemon's core market has been attacked by so many competitors over the past few years that it will be an interesting area to watch.
  • Posted on: 06/06/2022

    Is Best Buy’s home pickup recycling service worth the price?

    I love BB's efforts here -- ticks many boxes from a sustainability perspective as consumers sometimes worry about whether items are disposed of responsibly. It also will please investors and is a great effort at looking towards the sustainability focused investor. It would be interesting to understand if there are concerns about deeper legislation appearing in the future for retailers of electrical products and that this is a proactive move ahead of this.
  • Posted on: 05/26/2022

    Should Apple have killed the iPod?

    I miss my iPod Nano for its cuteness but the thing that killed it for me was how difficult it was to get music onto. Spotify changed that for me and now my phone provides the sounds that shape my life. My big surprise was not from a consumer perspective but from a business tool perspective. The iPod Touch has for quite some time been a hand-held device that could be used as a tool for store associates (and indeed many other environments too) -- in fact Apple used them in their own stores for payments and orders. They have now moved to iPads, but I am amazed there is not space for a physically smaller device. Did Apple undersell the potential usefulness of this device to corporations?
  • Posted on: 05/26/2022

    Is the retail sky falling?

    Price inflation is the single biggest threat to retailers over the next couple of years. It impacts cost of items purchased to be sold but at the same time consumer wallets are squeezed thus impacting the amount consumers have to spend in store. Retail margins are getting squeezed from both sides. The likely consequence is that retailers will look at how they can automate and use leading edge technologies -- AI, IoT for example -- in order to take cost out of the business.
  • Posted on: 05/26/2022

    Amazon tests same-day delivery from malls

    There has been speculation before that Amazon might buy a large department store type retailer -- such as JC Penney -- with a view to using these as both experience centres, and also as locations close to population centres to allow them to act as distribution centres. The efforts taking place right now could be to create a foundation or to test the logic behind buying such a retailer.
  • Posted on: 05/26/2022

    Robots and drones and Walmart’s supply chain, oh my

    I love this. Automation is likely to accelerate given labour shortages in many economies. It is great to see Walmart taking a lead in this and it is fascinating to see that in the same week Dyson announced that they are investing in domestic robots to help you at home by 2030. Other retailers are likely to watch and follow Walmart -- but also longer term, such is the scale of Walmart, they are likely to benefit from economies of scale that Walmart will create as they move forward.
  • Posted on: 05/16/2022

    Should Zara (and other retailers) be charging for online returns?

    It is great to see a big player like Zara taking a stand because the cost or processing returns is a major problem. Without some form of cost to the consumer -- and it seems that worries about product being thrown away is not sufficient -- behaviour is unlikely to change. In clothing, one of the big reasons for returns is buying multiple sizes -- which begs the question if sizes were consistent between retailers could this help reduce returns? The reality is that sizes are not even consistent within the same retailer -- so perhaps an initiative to address this could be the single biggest thing a retailer, or indeed the entire industry, could do to reduce return rates.
  • Posted on: 05/12/2022

    Would grocery delivery be a healthy addition to Apple’s business?

    I have no reason to believe that Apple could not make a huge success of this, but it is a very specialist area -- health related nutrition that is being highlighted here rather than a full-range grocery model. It works well in terms of being a sideline to the health app and keeps aligned to a "premium audience" which is Apple's target.
  • Posted on: 05/11/2022

    Is inflation the true cause of recent supermarket closures?

    Inflation could well be part of this but the huge impact of people buying groceries online may have a part to play. New start-ups as well as consolidation of demand to dark and larger stores for online sales may result in taking critical mass of demand away from these stores. Another consideration may be how these retailers measure performance of the stores -- in an omnichannel world, the measures we used to use to determine if stores stay open are not as relevant as they were.
  • Posted on: 05/11/2022

    Do Netflix subscriber headwinds hold lessons for retailers?

    Netflix cancellations or downgrades could be seen as "the canary in the coal mine" for all discretionary spending. Households will look at what value do they get out of each of their monthly subscriptions. I know from personal experience we looked at Amazon Prime and compared it to Netflix and as a household considered that the Amazon offer was far better value for money. And this value for money question is what many will be asking themselves. Arguably Amazon provide a very high benchmark -- free delivery and video for less than Netflix each month -- so other retailers cannot avoid being compared to this.

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