Google Inc. has bought BufferBox Inc., a service that lets consumers have their web orders delivered to secured lockers in the Toronto metropolitan area. The BufferBox lockers are located in grocery stores and railway stations. A consumer unlocks the locker via a PIN code sent via e-mail by the company.
The companies did not disclose the terms of the acquisition. BufferBox Inc., which launched less than two years ago and has 10 employees, operates out of the same building in Kitchener, ON, as Google’s Canadian development office. There are about 20 BufferBox lockers in the Toronto area and the company has said it wants to expand that to about 100 by the end of next year.
“We couldn’t be happier to be able to continue building out our vision within Google,” the founders of BufferBox wrote in a blog post announcing the acquisition. “As online shopping becomes a bigger part of how you buy products, we look forward to playing a part in bringing that experience to the next level.”
The move by Google is another example of how the search giant is moving to play a bigger role in e-commerce.
“We want to remove as much friction as possible from the shopping experience, while helping consumers save time and money, and we think the BufferBox team has a lot of great ideas around how to do that,” a Google spokeswoman says.
Google last week acquired Incentive Targeting Inc., an online marketing and couponing service that works primarily with grocery stores.
The BufferBox service operates similarly to Amazon.com Inc.’s Lockers service, which launched about a year ago. Amazon has lockers in locations such as convenience stores, drug stores and grocery stores. Retailers Staples Inc. and RadioShack also have Amazon Lockers in some stores. Amazon.com is No. 1 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide. Staples is No. 2 and RadioShack is No. 275. Last month, e-commerce delivery service ShopRunner opened 100 “PickupPoints” where online shoppers can collect their purchases at retail and convenience stores in the Philadelphia metro area.