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Google Cloud’s Retail Customer Drive Takes Aim At AWS

‘It’s one of our largest and fastest-growing industries,’ says Carrie Tharp, Google Cloud’s vice president of retail and consumer.

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Google Cloud is making a big bid to digitally transform retailers and help them gain efficencies and customer traction using its cloud computing capabilities, and a former Neiman Marcus Group executive is leading the way.

The No. 3 cloud provider’s three-pronged strategy centers on accelerating digital and omnichannel revenue growth for retail and consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies, helping them become more customer-centric and data-driven, and providing solutions that fuel operational improvements.

Retail is a top priority among six industries that Google Cloud has been targeting with specific vertical solutions since CEO Thomas Kurian took over early last year and announced a push to court enterprise customers at Google Next ’19, where retail solutions including e-commerce hosting, real-time inventory management and analytics, Contact Center AI and artificial intelligence-powered product recommendations were unveiled.

“It’s one of our largest and fastest-growing industries,” said Carrie Tharp (pictured), Google Cloud’s vice president of retail and consumer. Tharp joined Google Cloud last August from Dallas luxury retailer Neiman Marcus Group, where she was chief digital and marketing officer across all divisions (Neiman Marcus, Neiman Marcus Last Call, Bergdorf Goodman and Horchow) and, for the last approximately eight months there, interim president of the Neiman Marcus brand.

Google Cloud doesn’t release its retail growth metrics, but recent customer wins include the Etsy e-commerce web site, Lowe’s home improvement chain, online furniture and home goods retailer Wayfair, and John Lewis Partnership, a London-based retail company. Target, The Home Depot, Johnson & Johnson, AB InBev and French supermarket giant Carrefour SA also are among the largest retail and CPG customers that Google Cloud has publicly announced. Others include American Eagle Outfitters, Blue Apron, Colgate-Palmolive, eBay, L.L.Bean, Loblaw Digital, Macy’s, Latin American e-commerce company Mercado Libre, Philips Lighting, Shopify, Staples, Ulta Beauty, Walgreens and Zulily.

“We work with … seven of the top 10 retailers [and CPG companies] and are having rapid growth and success with folks in that customer data platform space and e-commerce hosting,” Tharp said. “Google overall, and then therefore Google Cloud, is seen as a retail innovation partner of choice because we do have those capabilities across Alphabet that can really create something unique and interesting.”

Most retailers, whether directly engaged with Google Cloud or not, have relationships with the broader Google, according to Tharp—through Google Ads, Google Shopping, YouTube and Google Assistant or G Suite, Chrome Enterprise and Android.

“And they're often curious about how to take that partnership to the next level and do some of these more advanced capabilities and AI and machine learning-based solutions that we have to really reshape the retail value chain,” Tharp said. “When you think about the customer and marketing, Google touches really all elements of a customer journey. Wherever we can, [we’re] actually pooling together all those great elements from Google and putting them together in a unique packaged offering for our biggest customers. Google has that ability to interact with retail in a way that’s different than our competitors.”

CRN spoke with Tharp last month about Google Cloud’s retail initiative, including her charge from Kurian and the industry strategy it’s pursuing. She talked about Google Cloud’s retail customer use cases, competition, partner ecosystems and the new Google Search for Retail and how her team is helping retail customers weather the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

 
 
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