Asos is embarking on an expanded cloud agreement with Microsoft that will see the online retail giant commit to using the software giant’s Azure platform for another five years.
Microsoft’s work with Asos dates back several years, after the retailer decided to migrate to an Azure-powered microservices architecture in 2016 to underpin its push to offer a more personalised and responsive shopping experience to its customers.
This work was geared towards helping streamline the online shopping experience for its customers through the roll-out of a real-time product recommendation platform to help users sift with greater ease through the tens of thousands of items Asos sells.
That same year, Asos credited Microsoft and its Azure platform with helping it to process 167 million customer requests during the 24-hour Black Friday holiday shopping period.
Since then, Asos has continued to dig into the Microsoft Azure portfolio of cloud products to underpin its forays into artificial intelligence (AI) and support the roll-out of its other data-led customer-facing offerings.
“Over the past few years, Asos’ engineering teams – which number around 70 – have worked with Microsoft to build a customer platform that enables technical agility, global scale and resilience,” said the two firms in a blog post announcing the five-year cloud contract extension.
“This has been critical in handling high levels of customer demand and helping its customers find the fashion and beauty products they want, in a way that suits them.”
Asos said it already has a pipeline of projects it is looking forward to embarking on with Microsoft that are geared towards supporting its “strategic growth plans” that are focused on expanding its product ranges and the availability of the items it sells.
“Asos will evolve its existing Azure data platform as the foundation to further accelerate its journey to become a data-driven organisation – enabling the co-creation of industry-leading capabilities that leverage AI and machine learning as the catalyst for even deeper personalisation of the customer experience, driving unique recommendations from the approximately 90,000 products on site,” the company said.
“Leveraging Microsoft research, alongside its own data science expertise, will enable Asos to deliver operational efficiencies by better predicting customer demand, optimising logistics and delivering efficiencies across price and stock investments.”
Scott Guthrie, executive vice-president of cloud and AI at Microsoft, said that retail remains one of the most competitive and dynamic industries in the world, which is why firms such as Asos are using cloud to ensure they can respond in timely way to changing customer demands and preferences.
“By harnessing the power of the Microsoft cloud and its AI capabilities, Asos will be able to better meet customer demand, provide greater product availability, and deliver more seamless and personalised digital experiences,” said Guthrie.
Meanwhile, Cliff Cohen, CTO of Asos, described Microsoft as a “critical partner” that has assisted the firm with a rebuild of its technology stack to ready itself to become a global business.
“As we embark on the next phase of growth, we see Microsoft as a critical partner that is trusted and can provide a comprehensive set of cloud and AI solutions as a key enabler for evolution of our customer offering, particularly in building capabilities to support our growth strategy and embedding data-driven insights across our business.”