Google Cloud announces retail updates, expands Lowe's and Wayfair partnerships

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

The moves were announced at NRF 2020, the biggest event in the retail sector, with Google doubling its message of driving digital growth for retailers and the customer experience - tied to its data expertise.

Along with RAP, which is Google's overarching term for services that help retailers optimize their websites and drive larger numbers of customers, other tools have been announced in various stages of availability. Google Cloud Search for Retail, during the testing phase, aims to use corporate AI and machine learning tools to deliver higher quality product search results for websites and apps, while Google Cloud 1:1 Engagement for retail, recently launched, is the best method for building models and products in the analytics platform BigQuery data.

Among Google Cloud retail customers are Kohl's in the US, Carrefour in France, and Sainsbury's in the UK; the following was announced on Oct. The company took advantage of the opportunity at NRF to disclose more updates about customers. Hardware chain Lowe's, which says it is in the 'early stages' of a large-scale technology transformation with a $500 million annual investment by 2021, is expanding its partnership with Google Cloud, while last week e-commerce company Wayfair announced that Google's Hybrid Connect to address capacity issues during peak hours.

Writing in a company blog post, Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian noted the opportunity for retailers to build their digital initiatives – as well as the variety of free services offered.
"One thing is clear is that digital transformation is more than just a requirement. It's a race," Kurian wrote. The fastest converting retailers are the most successful.

Kurian added: "Maintaining viability in today's retail market means using technology to solve big problems." Google continues to innovate and provide industry-specific tools that help retailers not only keep up with rivals but also win the changing race."
A general trend evaluated by industry followers over the past 12 months has been the rise of retailers building their cloud initiatives – and especially those who choose not to use Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure services. Early last year, Albertsons signed a three-year contract to make Microsoft Azure its preferred public cloud. As reported by CNBC, Albertsons CEO Anuj Dhanda said the decision was made because of 'Azure's experience with large, historic companies with major retailers... and because it's not a competitor.'

The bank is thinly covered; in May, Amazon overtook Walmart to become the top retailer on the Forbes Global 2000 list, with the two companies previously having a well-documented controversy. Amazon attributes some of the leading retailers in its cloudy chain, from River Island to Under Armour, of course, itself.
Under Kurian's leadership, Google has focused more on targeting specific industries. Google Cloud executives cited retail, healthcare, and financial services at Next in April as three key industries for Google's customer base, noting that the company worked with seven of the top 10 retailers.