Walmart vs. Amazon: Now in the clouds

Most of the retailers are known to rent server capacity by companies such as Amazon Web Services, Alphabet Inc’s Google, Microsoft Corp and IBM. Walmart has spent five years and millions of dollars in creating six giant server farms, each bigger than 10 football fields in size.

This private cloud deployment was planned to store and analyze data that could be used to drive online sales and boost digital retail efforts. Walmart plans to improve its in-store operations using data collected from millions of transactions. The money spent on this cloud computing initiative has now started showing results. The company has already sped up the process by which customers can return online purchases to their local stores by 60 percent. Also, Walmart can now adjust prices at its physical locations almost instantly across entire regions.

This probably has been Walmart’s best move to take on Inc in e-commerce. About 80 percent of Walmart’s cloud network is now in-house. These proprietary servers enable the company to untangle customer data in-house, helping Walmart stay competitive with Amazon on pricing and to tightly control functions such as inventory. And it is allowing the company to create customized offers for its customers and provide improved services.

The locations of these six “mega clouds” or giant server farms, and 75 “micro clouds” are unknown, and the company has declined to disclose the same publicly. Walmart’ has no immediate plans to provide cloud services for other companies. But what the future holds is yet to be seen.