Google takes aim at Amazon Web Services with Google Cloud for Retail

(GeekWire Photo / Tom Krazit)

Google plans to launch one of its first vertical-market cloud services packages introduced under new CEO Thomas Kurian Wednesday at Google Cloud Next 2019 with its top cloud rival squarely in mind.

Google Cloud for Retail is a clear pitch to retailers worried about subsidizing Amazon’s retail operation through Amazon Web Services, which has prompted massive retailers like Walmart and Target to look elsewhere for cloud services over the past year or so. It’s a set of services designed around key aspects of any retail operation, such as logistics and customer acquisition, and also includes some pre-existing artificial intelligence services repackaged for a retail push.

During our interview this week with Kurian, he singled out the retail industry as one of the vertical markets that Google intends to pursue aggressively over the next year. That’s not that surprising given the tensions that skyrocketed between retail companies and Amazon after the $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods in 2017, and Microsoft has made retail customers a similar priority under new Azure chief Jason Zander.

Last year at Google Cloud Next, Target factored prominently in Google’s pitch to retail customers, but Google Cloud for Retail appears to be aimed at a much smaller class of company that doesn’t need the bespoke cloud services that major multinational retailers employ. Google plans to roll out its retail services in conjunction with partners such as Accenture, Salesforce, and Tableau, according to a blog post announcing the initiative that is scheduled to go live Wednesday.