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The US retail giant Walmart has announced a partnership with Microsoft for a wider use of next-generation tech. The five-year agreement focuses on two of the most innovative technologies: the cloud and artificial intelligence.
The alliance will utilise Microsoft’s capacity for cloud solutions, including Microsoft Azure and Microsoft 365, in an effort to streamline online shopping for customers. The decision will also allow Walmart to keep up with Amazon’s retail ambitions and data expertise.
The deal is could shake things up for Amazon, and just last month Reuters reported that Microsoft was working on technology with the capacity to power checkout-free retail stores. This has the potential to alter the current market, a space that is entirely occupied by Amazon and its fully automated Go stores.
The speculation surrounding Microsoft came just a year after Amazon launched its first cashier-free store in Seattle. According to Reuters, a Windows software maker has shown sample technology to retailers around the world - with rumours of potential collaboration with Walmart.
Amazon Go stores will soon expand to Chicago and San Francisco, but Reuters reports that Microsoft has recently recruited a computer vision specialist from Amazon. Gene Munster from Loup Ventures stated “this is the future of checking out for convenience and grocery stores”, and the venture capital firm estimated the automated checkout value at $50 billion.
Earlier this year, Microsoft and Amazon reported a massive growth in cloud business. “We are innovating across key growth categories of infrastructure, AI, productivity, and business applications to deliver differentiated value to customers,” Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s chief executive officer commented.
This has certainly been the case. As part of the deal, Walmart and Microsoft engineers will collaborate to relocate a significant portion of walmart.com and samsclub.com to Azure.
Both Microsoft and Amazon are constantly in competition, and Microsoft’s decision to collaborate with Walmart purely reiterates this competitiveness. Only time will tell which tech giant will conquer the world of automated retail.