Microsoft has been taking tentative steps into e-commerce and retail over the last year, including solidifying its partnership with MasterCard and challenging Amazon Go with its own automated payment system. Now Microsoft is aiming to further its e-commerce through a service that will compete with Shopify.
Speaking to The Information, Microsoft's corporate vice president of retail and consumer goods, Shelly Bransten said the company is exploring possibilities. “It's something we're looking at very seriously because our customers are asking us for it.”
Bransten says she has “a lot of respect” for Shopify. It you are unfamiliar with Shopify, it is an online e-commerce platform that offers over 600,000 online retailers service “including payments, marketing, shipping and customer engagement tools to simplify the process of running an online store for small merchants.”
Microsoft brought Bransten into its consumer goods division based on her experience in retail. She spent over 15 years at Gap and then Salesforce. Now with Microsoft, Bransten is helping the company develop new e-commerce solutions through development and acquisition.
Whether that means outright buying Shopify or creating a rival remains to be seen. Shopify shareholders did not seem enthused by a potential Microsoft takeover as shares dropped up to 2.8% following Bransten's comments.
Moving into Retail
Microsoft has been increasingly testing the waters in retail with a view to developing solutions for the sector. Last year, the company partnered with Wal-Mart with an AI-powered automated checkout software.
The system would negate the need of cashiers in stores and would remove checkout lines. Microsoft's solution would be a direct rival to Amazon's own nascent automated retails technology.
Using the technology, shoppers would be tracked as they add products to their cart. While Microsoft would be pitching itself against Amazon, the company will not be a direct competitor. Instead it is believed the company is working with physical retailers and wants to help them keep pace with Amazon Go.