Google Cloud unveils retail updates, expands Lowe’s and Wayfair partnerships

Google Cloud has announced it is expanding its retail acceleration program (RAP) among other initiatives designed to scale up retailers’ cloud projects.

The moves were announced at NRF 2020, the biggest event in the retail space, with Google doubling down on its message to accelerate retailers’ digital growth and customer experience – pinned together with its data expertise.

Alongside RAP, which is Google’s overarching term for services which help retailers optimise their websites as well as drive greater footfall, other tools were announced in various stages of availability. Google Cloud Search for Retail, in the pilot stage, aims to utilise the company’s AI and machine learning tools to provide higher quality product search results for websites and applications, while Google Cloud 1:1 Engagement for Retail, just launched, is a best practice guide to building out models and products in data analytics platform BigQuery.

Among Google Cloud’s retail customers are Kohl’s in the US, Carrefour in France, and Sainsbury’s in the UK; the latter having been announced in October. The company took the opportunity at NRF to unveil further customer updates. Hardware chain Lowe’s, which says it is in the ‘early stages’ of a large scale technology transformation to the tune of $500 million annual investment through 2021, is expanding its partnership with Google Cloud, while last week it was announced eCommerce firm Wayfair was using Google’s hybrid connectivity to tackle capacity issues during peak hours.

Writing in a company blog post, Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian noted the opportunity available to retailers in building out their digital initiatives – as well as the wide variety of complimentary services on offer.

“One thing is clear: digital transformation is more than just a requirement. It’s a race,” wrote Kurian. “Retailers that transform the fastest are the most successful.

“Staying viable in the retail market today means using technology to solve big problems,” Kurian added. “Google continues to innovate and provide industry-specific tools that help retailers not just keep up with the competition, but also to win the ever-changing race.”

A common trend assessed by industry watchers over the past 12 months has been the rise of retailers building out their cloud initiatives – and particularly those who choose not to go to infrastructure leader Amazon Web Services (AWS). At the start of last year, Albertsons signed a three-year deal to make Microsoft Azure its preferred public cloud. Per a CNBC report, Albertsons CIO Anuj Dhanda said the decision was made because of Azure’s ‘experience with big companies, history with large retailers… and because it isn’t a competitor.’

The note was thinly veiled; in May Amazon surpassed Walmart as the leading retailer on the Forbes Global 2000 list, with the two companies previously having a well-documented spat. Amazon counts several leading retailers in its cloudy stable, from River Island, to Under Armour, to of course itself.

Under Kurian’s leadership, Google has put sharper focus on targeting specific industries. The Google Cloud CEO cited retail, healthcare, and financial services at Next in April as the three industries key to Google’s customer base, noting that the company worked with seven of the top 10 retailers.

You can read more of Google Cloud’s retail updates here.

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