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Google Cloud powers retail omnichannel

Kimberly Chin
Oct 11, 2022
Photo illustration of Carrie Tharp with abstract shapes and shopping carts.

Photo illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios. Photo: courtesy of Google

Google Cloud hopes to power omnichannel retail as sector players seek scaled artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities, its vice president of consumer and retail Carrie Tharp tells Axios.

Why it matters: A McKinsey survey of the consumer and retail industries found that digital leaders garnered 3.3 times the total shareholder return over digital laggards from 2016 to 2020.

What they're saying: Google Cloud helps drive real-time insights, harnessing AI and machine learning to home in on what retailers need to increase profits, Tharp says.

  • "Retail is in the detail. AI is the perfect solution to help.”
  • Google leverages data from platforms like its Search, Maps and Translate platforms to yield insights on retail, consumer products and the supply chain.

Zoom in: Google often partners with retailers to launch bespoke products, using its own customer base and data to inform it. "We build to the user,” Tharp says.

  • For example, Google Cloud partnered with Macy’s on a product called Retail Search to help enhance the big box department chain’s product discovery on its digital platforms.
  • Google’s search capability with Macy’s real, live data drove a 2% increase in conversion and a 1.3% increase in revenue per visit, according to its estimates.
  • “They get the advantage of being first to market. They also get to shape some of the enterprise software requirements that we're putting into our roadmap,” Tharp says, adding that retailers are “helping shape a product that's coming to market.”

Yes, and: Google Cloud has drawn some of the world's largest retailers to its platform.

  • The company recently partnered with Rite Aid and Wayfair, which migrated much of its digital infrastructure to Google Cloud.
  • Cloud's capabilities offer Wayfair help with fraud detection as well as personalized customer outreach through marketing and ads, Tharp says.
  • Google Cloud is helping Rite Aid modernize its stores and develop a more omnichannel experience, enabling better care of customers and pharmacy patients both online and in person.
  • Rite Aid is also using Google Cloud for its vaccine scheduling tool, customer messaging infrastructure and digital engagement platform.

State of play: Most mature retailers are no longer in the test-and-learn phase, and a key concern is the profitability of their e-commerce businesses, Tharp says.

The bottom line: The cloud is ushering the acceleration of the industry through digital transformation, Tharp says.

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