Google Cloud has been named as the top cloud service provider for the retail sector by research firm Canalys.

The company, in the latest research from its cloud channels analysis service, put Google ahead of Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services, with Alibaba Cloud and IBM completing the top five.

Canalys cited Google’s strength in advertising and search, as well as aggressive hiring in the sector and establishing global systems integrator partnerships to accelerate penetration.

Retail is one of three industries, alongside healthcare and financial services, which Google Cloud is specifically targeting – as noted by chief executive Thomas Kurian at Next last April. At the start of this year, the provider announced various updates at the major retail event NRF, including retail-specific search and BigQuery model builds, as a wider expansion of its retail acceleration program (RAP).

Among Google Cloud’s customers in the vertical are Kohl’s in the US, Carrefour in France, and Sainsbury’s in the UK. Partnerships with Lowe’s and Wayfair were extended at NRF.

The rise in cloud services as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic has been covered widely; Byron Deeter, of Bessemer Venture Partners, told CNBC earlier this week that coronavirus had heralded an ‘iPhone moment’ for cloud software. Retail – at least in terms of footfall – was understandably badly hit by the lockdown.

Ensuring a seamless eCommerce operation, powered by cloud software and infrastructure, was therefore essential.

“Retailers need proof that their cloud service provider can support them not just by growing, but also by driving platform innovation,” said Blake Murray, research analyst at Canalys. “A provider that has specialised support teams and an ecosystem of partners innovating on its behalf gives customers confidence in the relationship.”

Azure, AWS and Alibaba were rated as ‘advanced’ in their abilities to serve retailers by Canalys. Alibaba uses its cloud to power its Singles’ Day spending spree, which last year netted $23bn in sales in the first nine hours, while AWS’ long-standing retail experience as part of the wider Amazon business is evident. Microsoft, as has been evinced elsewhere in this publication, was praised by Canalys for its strong foothold in the enterprise.

Photo by Arturo Rey on Unsplash

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