Google Gives Retailers A Leg Up As It Moves Further Into The Cloud

Google is doing more to help companies connect, manage, secure and analyze ever-growing amounts of data.

At its Google Cloud Next conference in San Francisco, the company unveiled a raft of announcements over the last two days (the event officially runs April 9-11), including new open-source integrations, more AI capabilities and product-development partnerships with large consulting firms like Accenture.  Enhancements will assist large companies in areas such as data migration, analytics and cross-compatibility with competitors Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

Among the offerings is a vertical-specific suite, Google Cloud for Retailers, that will help retailers tap analytics and AI to predict their future inventory needs, recommend products for their customers and assist those customers in locating items they want to buy.

Within that suite is Vision Product Search, which uses Cloud Vision technology. Someone can take a photo or screenshot of a pair of pants they fancy, for example, and the tool will return search results with similar items from the retailer’s inventory.

“We’re able to help if a user likes a specific product; it finds ones that are similar, either in function or in style,” said Andrew Moore, head of Google Cloud Artificial Intelligence. “We provide tools that make the experience on the retailer’s website more immersive and useful for the user.”

Ikea is among those using the product. “We’re working with Google Cloud to create a new mobile experience that enables customers, wherever they are, to take photos of home furnishing and household items and quickly find that product or similar in our online catalogue,” Susan Standiford, chief technology officer at IKEA Group, said in a Google blog post.

Google’s Recommendations AI powers the new Product Recommendations tool, which suggests complementary products as customers browse a retailer’s website. Meanwhile, Real Time Inventory Management and Analytics helps retailers boost the in-store experience so that customers don’t end up empty-handed, costing retailers the sale.

“We’re using sales data regionalized over years or months, depending on what we have, to make a much more accurate prediction of what stocks they should have, in which parts of the country and when, so they are more accurate and have less wastage,” Moore said.

Google has tapped its vast partner network to develop additional tools for retailers. For example, Accenture’s Hyper-Personalization product helps retailers transform data into business insights they can use to boost customer response rates and lifetime value. Google Cloud and Accenture teamed up last year to launch the Accenture Google Cloud Business Group.

Tableau can help retailers quickly collect and analyze their data, while Publicis Sapient assists retailers with addressing data silos to connect and take action on the data points along the customer journey.

That goal is in line with other Google product announcements that improve speed and simplify data migration to Google Cloud. Its BigQuery Data Transfer Service, for example, which can automatically ingest data from SaaS apps to BigQuery, the company’s cloud-scale data warehousing solution, expanded support to more than 100 enterprise apps, including Salesforce and Marketo.

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