Google and Albertsons announced a wide-ranging, multi-year partnership today that will see a range of high-tech features added to consumer grocery shopping across more than 2,200 Albertsons stores.
According to the press release, Albertsons has been working with a number of different teams across Google over the past year. In a corporate blog post, also released today, Google outlined new grocery delivery and pickup features that have been integrated into Google Search and will be coming to Google Maps later this year:
Delivery and curbside pickup have grown in popularity during the pandemic — they’re convenient and minimize contact. To make this process easier, we’re bringing helpful shopping information to stores’ Business Profiles on Maps and Search, like delivery providers, pickup and delivery windows, fees, and order minimums. We’re rolling this out on mobile Search starting with Instacart and Albertsons Cos. stores in the U.S., with plans to expand to Maps and other partners.
Other fruits of this partnership weren’t specified, but the companies said forthcoming innovations include: Shoppable maps with dynamic hyperlocal features, AI-powered conversational commerce, and predictive grocery list building.
That Albertsons has hopped into the virtual shopping cart with Google actually makes a lot of sense. The pandemic pushed record numbers of people into online grocery shopping last year, and while those online sales figures have cooled recently, grocery e-commerce is predicted to hit $250 billion by 2025. So integrating high-tech features from a trusted and ubiquitous brand like Google to grab more of those online dollars is a no brainer.
As a result of all this money flowing into grocery e-commerce, retailers are locked in a fierce battle to be your grocer of choice. A partnership with Google isn’t a nice to have — at this point it’s a need to have for Albertsons. Albertsons is up against deep-pocketed giants like Amazon, which is building out its own chain of physical supermarket stores, and Walmart, which is expanding its delivery options and adding more automated fulfillment. Albertsons could also find it is getting squeezed on the smaller end by a cohort of new, urban grocery startups that promise delivery in 10 minutes.
But Albertsons isn’t being caught flat-footed. It has proved itself to be a very tech-forward retailer, and its innovation has only accelerated since the pandemic. The grocer is expanding the use of automated micro-fulfillment, piloting smart lockers and robotic curbside pickup kiosks, and is even testing out remote controlled grocery delivery robots.
For its part, Google continues to be a bit of a sleeper in the foodtech world. Over the past few years, the company has been rolling out a number of features that transform the way we find, order and get our food delivered.
While we don’t know the full extent of what its partnership with Google will bring, these first steps are a smart play by Albertsons. By getting inserted into Google Search and Maps results, Albertsons can more seamlessly integrate with consumers’ everyday routine, and create a more frictionless shopping experience for customers.