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By: RETHINK Retail

Meet the TRI Q&A: ShiSh Shridhar

Get to know RETHINK Retail’s Top Retail Influencers through the “Meet the TRI” Q&A series! Dive in to learn about a member of the thought leader community and follow their work and insights across our content and their social channels.

Hi, I’m ShiSh Shridhar, Global Retail Startups Lead at Microsoft Corp.

Connect with me on LinkedIn!

“Tell us about your background”

ShiSh has worked with the Retail Industry for two decades and engaged with some of the top retailers and brands in the world helping with their digital transformation journeys. ShiSh has been with Microsoft for 25 years and is deeply passionate about solving business problems using Data & AI as a competitive asset. He has a mix of a technical and business background having worked as a developer & developer evangelist in the 90s and then moving on to more of an advisory role helping retailers with their digital transformation journeys.

“Brief description of your current role and your space in the industry.”

ShiSh is currently the Global Lead for Retail with Microsoft for Startups and manages a portfolio of disruptive startups with cutting edge innovations to accelerate the digital transformation of the Retail Industry. ShiSh helps a select curated group of Startups scale and go to market through the assets & resources available through Microsoft including engineering, sales and research. He is also actively working with retailers to help them connect to the most innovative startups and help address some of their key business challenges. The role requires him to engage with retailers on a regular basis to better understand the emerging challenges, identify the key trends, scout startups in those areas, ensure that they are validated by Microsoft and make them available for pilots with retailers.

“What challenges/opportunities are currently facing retailers?”

Labor shortage is one of the challenges that is impacting retail and I think there are various creative ways that retailers can overcome. Low pay is certainly the number one cause for the great attrition but for businesses truly unable to raise wages, improving the employee experience goes a long way toward increasing retention. This includes solutions for better scheduling, empowering employees, and automating some of the repetitive tasks. 

“What hot topics or trends have you been seeing in the retail space?”

Automation has been one of the hot topics in retail, primarily to address the need that was created during the pandemic for contactless shopping combined with the shortage of labor. This has spanned across automation of repetitive tasks in store, warehouse automation and delivery.

“How do you support these hot topics?”

As the Retail Startups Lead at Microsoft, I help identify the key trends in retail through engagement with retailers. This leads to identifying, curating and recruiting Startups that help solve the challenges that retailers are trying to solve with innovative solutions. I engage with retailers to identify their business challenges and help match startups that have been validated for enterprise readiness.

“Do you have any interesting projects coming up?”

The Metaverse has been gaining significant interest among retailers and brands. Its been an area that I have been approached by companies seeking startups to work with. As of right now, the metaverse does not exist, but it is developing. However, it is important for Retailers and Brands to make incremental steps forward in capabilities that the Metaverse will be enabling. This includes converting all of their 2D product imagery to 3D, enabling social media integration, introducing AR/VR capabilities, integrating NFT and more. I am currently working a on phased strategy that will help retailers take measured steps in turning on the some of the capabilities that will make the leap to the metaverse easier when it becomes a reality.

“Which resources do you use to keep up with industry news?”

I do follow retail hashtags on linkedin and twitter to keep up with what is trending. In addition, following the TRI network has really helped since its a very active group on social media channels.

“How do you continue to grow and develop as an influencer of the retail industry?”

I am actively keeping up to date with developments in the industry through news feeds but also work with a group of retailers to periodically share information about the emerging startups and learn from them their key pain points. I try to participate in thought leadership panels, podcasts and industry events as a speaker in addition to blogging about topics I am passionate about.