Retail giant Walmart has entered into a strategic partnership with Microsoft for wider use of cloud and artificial intelligence technology, in a sign of major rivals of Amazon.com coming together.
The five-year agreement will leverage the full range of Microsoft's cloud solutions, including Microsoft Azure and Microsoft 365, to make shopping faster and easier for customers, the Bentonville Arkansas-based company said.
“Walmart is a pioneering retailer, committed to empowering its employees and delivering the best experience for its customers wherever they are,” said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft.
“The world’s leading companies run on our cloud, and I’m thrilled to partner with Walmart to accelerate their digital transformation with Microsoft Azure and Microsoft 365.”
As part of the partnership, Walmart and Microsoft engineers will collaborate to migrate a significant portion of walmart.com and samsclub.com to Azure, Walmart added.
“Walmart’s commitment to technology is centred around creating incredibly convenient ways for customers to shop and empowering associates to do their best work,” added Doug McMillon, CEO of Walmart.
“Whether it’s combined with our agile cloud platform or leveraging machine learning and artificial intelligence to work smarter, we believe Microsoft will be a strong partner in driving our ability to innovate even further and faster.”
While Walmart is doubling down on its e-commerce presence to better compete with Amazon, Microsoft has been working on a technology that would eliminate cashiers and checkout lines from stores, Reuters reported last month.
Microsoft's technology aims to help retailers keep pace with Amazon Go, the ecommerce giant's highly automated store format.
The Windows software maker has also shown the sample technology to retailers from around the world and has had talks with Walmart about a potential collaboration, Reuters reported.
Through the partnership, Walmart plans to defend itself from Amazon's retail ambitions and expertise in data, and boost its online presence.
(Reporting by Rishika Chatterjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)