Google Cloud has ranked as the number one cloud service provider to the retail sector, outpacing overall market leader AWS and second-placed Microsoft Azure, according to new data released by Canalys.
In the Canalys Cloud Channels Analysis Service, the analyst firm assessed the top cloud service providers' performance in the retail and eCommerce sectors by looking at vertical-specific solutions, key clients, technology partnerships and overall strategies in the sector.
Google Cloud appears in the leader zone of Canalys' vertical assessment model. Its success comes from its vertically-aligned strategy, with retail being one of its core segments, Canalys says.
Google Cloud has also been hiring aggressively and establishing worldwide systems integrator partnerships to accelerate retail penetration. It recently expanded its partnership with Best Buy, which has named Google Cloud as the provider of its data enterprise platform in a multi-year agreement.
"Google Cloud's client portfolio has many of the world's leading retailers, including Costco, Germany-based Metro and Target. By using its strength in advertising and search, Google Cloud can offer retail customers much more than compute and storage," Canalys says.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically affected retail. Many retailers have adjusted by leaning on their eCommerce capabilities. Those that have been unable to transition online have suffered greatly. As eCommerce demand grows, retailers are looking to cloud service providers to support and grow their businesses and arm them with key technologies.
"A reliable cloud service provider not only supplies compute and storage, but also retail-specific solutions and support teams."
Canalys research analyst Blake Murray says retailers need proof that their cloud service provider can support them not just by growing, but also by driving platform innovation.
"A provider that has specialised support teams and an ecosystem of partners innovating on its behalf gives customers confidence in the relationship,” he explains.
Microsoft Azure, AWS and Alibaba Cloud were rated as advanced in their abilities to serve retailers.
Azure is well established among enterprises and offers over 2,000 retail-specific applications through its partner network.
AWS brings long-standing experience in retail and offers a unique retail competency program that validates a partner's technical proficiency and customer success. But Amazon in general remains a major competitor to the retail sector.
“Due to this competitive aspect, many major retailers have opted to work with other cloud service providers," says Murray.
Alibaba Cloud is expanding from its dominant presence in China to build infrastructure and partnerships in Europe and other markets. But the continued division between China and the west will make it difficult for Alibaba to make inroads in some countries.
“Now more than ever, retailers need a digital strategy to win in an omnichannel world, especially with Amazon's online dominance," adds Alex Smith, senior director at Canalys.
"Digital is applied everywhere from customer experience to cost optimisation, and the overall technological capability of a retailer is what will define its success."