A woman uses Walmart's mobile app
Source: Walmart

After many reports, Microsoft has confirmed its strategic partnership with Walmart. The pair is working on ‘digital transformation in retail’ with a focus on faster and easier shopping.

As part of the deal, Walmart will use Microsoft Azure as its preferred cloud provider and use its solutions for critical applications and workloads.

“Walmart is a pioneering retailer, committed to empowering its employees and delivering the best experience for its customers wherever they are,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. “The world’s leading companies run on our cloud, and I’m thrilled to partner with Walmart to accelerate their digital transformation with Microsoft Azure and Microsoft 365.”

Walmart is looking at four key areas when it comes to its partnership. It wants to improve its compute capacity, manage workloads in an elastic environment, innovate faster, and manage cost.

Cashier-less Shopping

Microsoft hasn’t been specific about all areas of innovation, but previous reports suggest cashier-less shopping. By use of a mobile phone’s built-in sensors and camera, it could cut out the middleman and increase convenience for shoppers.

However, this would be likely to come at the cost of employee’s jobs and doesn’t seem to fit with either company’s strategy. Nadella has previously been vocal about using AI to assist workers rather than replace them.

Likewise, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon says, “Walmart’s commitment to technology is centered around creating incredibly convenient ways for customers to shop and empowering associates to do their best work.”

It’s hard to say if cashier-less shopping is in the works as a long-term solution or if it’s just an unfounded rumor. However, the collaboration does seem advantageous for both, with Walmart saving plenty via IoT powered smart energy devices.

“Whether it’s combined with our agile cloud platform or leveraging machine learning and artificial intelligence to work smarter, we believe Microsoft will be a strong partner in driving our ability to innovate even further and faster,” said McMillon.