OAKLAND, California: Alphabet's Google Cloud unit is poised for a surge in fourth-quarter sales from US retailers, as they brace for record online shopping during the holidays because of COVID-19 lockdowns.
Cloud technology, used to host websites and store data, is a key part of many retailers' e-commerce operations. As fees are often pegged to site traffic, a jump in activity will drive up revenue for the unit.
Carrie Tharp, vice president of retail and consumer at Google Cloud, told Reuters that her team had this year tossed out its linear growth model to predict how many servers it will need to process web orders for retailers around Black Friday.
"We're planning for peak on top of peak," she said on Monday (Aug 3). That could be a boon for Google Cloud, which has generated about 30 per cent of its revenue during the fourth quarter the last two years.
Stores such as Kohl's and Wayfair lean on Google months in advance to ensure it has enough servers to withstand increased shopping during holiday discount days such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday in November and December.
This year, Black Friday-style demand has flooded shops since March, when the United States began lockdowns, Tharp said.
Holiday shopping is expected to boost demand further, as retailers including Target and Walmart have said they will reduce in-store hours because of coronavirus concerns.
Tharp said the pandemic has already benefited Google Cloud, with some retailers adopting its predictive algorithms years ahead of plan to help them work out the most efficient way of fulfilling orders.
Electronics retailer Best Buy, for instance, announced on Tuesday a multi-year deal to centralise customer and product data with Google Cloud to improve its loyalty program and online ad campaigns.
The companies declined to elaborate on the deal, but Tharp said she hopes it leads to Google eventually powering Best Buy's web ordering system.