Microsoft and Walmart team up to take on Amazon

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Microsoft and Walmart are teaming up for a strategic partnership that will take on rival Amazon in both technology and retail. Walmart is announcing today, at Microsoft’s Inspire partner conference, that it’s partnering with Microsoft to use the company’s cloud services. The five-year agreement will see Walmart use Azure and Microsoft 365 across the company, alongside new projects focused on machine learning, artificial intelligence, and data platforms.

Walmart is Amazon’s biggest retail competitor, and Microsoft is Amazon’s largest cloud services rival. That rivalry isn’t lost on Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who hinted in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that it’s “absolutely core to this” new partnership. “How do we get more leverage as two organizations that have depth and breadth and investment to be able to outrun our respective competition,” says Nadella.

While the tech partnership will obviously benefit both companies, it also comes just weeks after reports suggested Microsoft is working on rival Amazon Go technology for cashier-free stores. Microsoft is reportedly in talks with Walmart for this technology, and the software maker has hired a computer vision specialist from Amazon. Amazon’s Go store in Seattle uses multiple camera and sensors that use computer vision algorithms to detect what items you’re taking out of the store so you’re automatically charged. Microsoft is reportedly experimenting with attaching cameras to shopping carts to track items.

Both Walmart and Microsoft don’t reference too many of the future-facing parts of this strategic deal, and it’s mostly timed for Microsoft’s big partner conference in Las Vegas this week. However, this new deal could be a unique test ground for Microsoft’s bigger AI ambitions and any future plans it has to push other retailers to use its range of cloud services.

Comments

I’ve been using Walmart Grocery pickup for a month now and am UTTERLY shocked how they handled the technology portion of the service. It’s fantastically designed.

At one point I thought Amazon was going to take over the world by themself, now I see Walmart right along side them.

You don’t have to deal with the "Walmart experience" when using technology. Pair that with unmatched prices and you have a very dangerous competitor to Amazon going forward. Free, instant, selfdriving pickup will directly compete with Amazon.

I’ve replaced Amazon with Walmart.com for a lot of my day-to-day shopping because, quite frankly, Walmart delivers stuff much faster than Amazon (unless you pay extra for a Prime account). In my experience, the service at Amazon has nosedived the past few years. Sometimes, I’ll order an item, and it won’t arrive for two months (and then I’ll learn that it’s coming from India). That’s ridiculous!

I get fantastic service from Amazon, with fast deliveries, including on Sunday. I’m a Prime member, of course.

Fantastic service should be a given, not a paid extra IMO

there’s no such thing as a free lunch

You’re aware we’re talking about buying things, right?

What we’re paying for is the 2-day shipping, not the service. I’ve never once ordered something on Amazon and waited 2 months for it. That’s such an anecdotal experience that it’s not relevant in this case. This sounds like the user not being able to use the Amazon interface, not like Amazon has poor shipping times.

I haven’t waited two months for something on Amazon, but what I see more often than not is that they will wait something like a week before shipping to punish you for not using Prime. I’m not talking about just using a slower shipping method, I’m talking about the delay before shipping, which I haven’t seen elsewhere.

Add that I’m selecting the free shipping option and grouping shipments. But they’ll delay the shipment for a week even if it’s one item that is listed as in stock.

I hardly doubt Amazon is out to "punish people" for not using Prime. Its far more likely that their algorithm de-prioritizes non Prime shipments to be only shipped out to meet the shipping estimates, thus saving money…

Exactly this. It makes their "free shipping" without Prime almost useless. Don’t forget about Prime exclusive third party (non-Amazon) items, like the Nintendo Switch was when it was newly released.

So WalMart does free same day delivery?

Walmart (WMT) stepped up in its fight against Amazon (AMZN) after its Jet.com unit announced same-day grocery deliveries in New York City.

Same day for groceries, does not yet compete against Amazon Prime Now which offers a vast variety of normal products.

I forgot about prime now, when I asked that question. I was referring to the fact that most of the time if I order something in the morning before going to work on regular amazon it is often on my doorstep when I get home.

See: Xbox Live 2006-2013 vs. PSN 2006-2013

That’s not an argument. If you’d used both services at the time you’d know there was a massive difference in quality and breadth of service. Xbox live was worth the cash in comparison to the shit show ps delivered but people put up with it because it was free

Clearly, something coming from India is a 3rd party seller on Amazon. I’ve gotten stuff from China a number of times. But I know ahead of time because I pay attention to what is coming from Amazon and what is coming from a 3rd party.

So many people really don’t pay attention to anything. They click right away on BUY and then just assume any number of things. One of them is where it’s coming from. But I’ve read 1-star reviews from people that ordered something, assumed something came with it and didn’t get it, and give it a 1-star review, even though nothing in the ad said they would get it. Then give the product 1 star, why? They are the dumb one. The product is as advertised!!!

I don’t think if it was larger text and flashing that it was a 3rd party seller from China or India or where ever that people would even notice.

yup. usually it should say "PRIME" and when you check out it will tell u when its coming. dont order 3rd party. go directly with amazon.

Amazon gives estimates of ship times. Unless the item is a very good price and I can wait, I never order anything that’s not prime because, yes, you will be waiting for a third party to satisfy that order and, no, they don’t necessarily ship fast. That’s like blaming ebay because a seller on ebay ships from overseas. You can see that information up front before ordering, please don’t blame Amazon for you not reading.

Walmart offers free 2-day shipping. Amazon makes you pay extra.

I’ve seen this a couple times where Amazon doesn’t make it super-obvious that the Marketplace vendor is shipping from outside the US, and your item needs to come through US customs.

Wal Mart is also testing using Uber drivers to deliver your on-line grocery orders to your house.

2-day shipping period. No prime.

ew u buy produce and groceries at walmart? ive friend who worked there. they are gross at handling food and they lack food safety training.

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