The world’s largest brick-and-mortar retailer has partnered with Microsoft to compete against Amazon. According to The Verge, Walmart has signed a deal with Microsoft, allowing it to use the company’s Azure and Microsoft 365 cloud services in its operations for the next five years.
The local retail industry has been in disarray following the rise of Amazon in recent years. In 2017, more than 7,000 brick-and-mortar retail stores closed their doors for business. Toys R Us is one of the latest victims as the toy company closed all its U.S. stores earlier this year. This trend is attributed to the increasing popularity of online shopping. Many consumers prefer to shop online because it’s easier and cheaper.
But Walmart isn’t going down without a fight. The well-known retailer already has a website where consumers can shop for products, and consumers can choose to pick up their order from a local Walmart store or have it to shipped to their home.
Furthermore, Walmart launched a free two-day shipping program last year. Of course, Amazon also offers free two-day shipping on select products for Prime members. However, given that a Prime membership now costs $119 per year — up from $99 per year — many consumers are unwilling to subscribe to the e-commerce company’s Prime service. Walmart’s free two-day shipping, on the other hand, is available to all consumers. It doesn’t cost money, nor does it require a membership.
Walmart is also leveraging the cloud computing power of Microsoft in its battle against Amazon. This deal will allow Walmart to use Microsoft’s Azure platform as well as its Office 365 cloud-based software suite. While neither company has revealed how these cloud services will be used, analysts believe that Walmart is trying to develop a faster, more efficient checkout process in its stores.
Another possible use for Microsoft’s cloud technology is to reduce energy usage. With more than 4,100 stores, Walmart could save a significant amount of money by making its stores more energy efficient.
News of Walmart’s partnership with Microsoft comes on the heels of Amazon Prime Day. Held July 17, Prime Day offers discounts on hundreds of products to Prime members.