Microsoft forms cloud partnership with Flipkart, Amazon’s top rival in India


Microsoft Corp. today announced a new partnership that will make its Azure cloud computing service the exclusive platform for Indian retail juggernaut Flipkart.

According to Microsoft, Flipkart’s first goal is to implement Azure for its computing infrastructure, adding the cloud platform’s analytical muscle to Flipkart’s existing data centers.

India’s largest retailer also plans to use Azure Cloud for a lot more than simply analyzing sales trends and processing payments. The company will use Azure to delve into artificial intelligence and machine learning with Cortana Intelligence Suite and Power BI, which the company hopes will allow it to streamline its ads, marketing and customer service.

“At Microsoft, we aim to empower every Indian and every Indian organization with technology, and key to this is forging strategic partnerships with innovative companies like Flipkart,” Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella said in a statement. “Combining Microsoft’s cloud platform and AI capabilities with Flipkart’s existing services and data assets will enable Flipkart to accelerate its digital transformation in e-commerce and deliver new customer experiences.”

Founded in 2007, Flipkart claims on its website that it is the leading e-commerce marketplace in India, with more than 100 million registered users and an inventory of over 80 million products, which include clothing, electronics and more. According to the company, it also had the first app to pass 50 million downloads in India.

“Flipkart has always been committed to its vision of transforming commerce in India through technology,” said Flipkart Group Chief Executive and co-founder Binny Bansal. “Given Microsoft’s strong reputation in cloud computing, coupled with scale and reliability, this partnership allows us to leverage our combined strength and knowledge of technology, e-commerce and markets to make online shopping more relevant and enriching for customers.”

The decision to go with Azure rather than Amazon Web Services makes sense for Flipkart, which is often referred to as the Indian Amazon. So far the company has managed to maintain a slight edge over Amazon in India, but Amazon recently started making its own strides in the subcontinent. For example, Amazon launched a “Sell as Individual” program in India last year, which allows users to sell their own used products, much like Craigslist.

With India’s population of more than 1.3 billion people, many of whom are not yet online, both Flipkart and Amazon have plenty of room to grow within the country. But Amazon is investing heavily in its Indian business in an attempt to muscle in on Flipkart’s territory. Amazon announced last year that it would be investing about $3 billion in its Indian business, posing a direct challenge to Flipkart.

Image courtesy of Flipkart