USA – Walmart Inc., the American chain of hypermarkets has entered into a strategic partnership with Microsoft Corp for wider use of cloud and artificial intelligence technology that for faster, convenient and easier shopping by customers at its stores.

The five-year agreement will see Walmart utilize Microsoft’s cloud solutions, which is Microsoft Azure and Microsoft 365 even as it battles for a better ecommerce space against Amazon.

As part of the partnership, Walmart and Microsoft engineers will collaborate to migrate a significant portion of and to Azure.

Checkout-free retail

While Walmart is seeking to double down on its e-commerce presence, Microsoft has reportedly been working on a technology that would eliminate cashiers and checkout lines from stores.

Last month, Reuters reported that Microsoft was showing a sample of the technology to retailers around the world and was in talks with Walmart for a possible collaboration.

Walmart is competing Amazon which launched Amazon Go, its first automated grocery stores that boasts of “no lines, no checkouts, no registers”, causing jitters among its rivals.

Such kind of advances have raised the question of job creation and destruction of the ecommerce but it remains uncertain whether customers will embrace such technology based platforms.

Through the partnership, Walmart plans to defend itself from Amazon’s retail ambitions and expertise in data, and boost its online presence.

“Walmart’s commitment to technology is centred on creating incredibly convenient ways for customers to shop and empowering associates to do their best work,” Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said in a statement.

Commenting on the matter Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said, “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.”