EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2948 - December 03, 2012     6 of 6

Google Acquires BufferBox in Ecommerce Move

By David A. Utter

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A Canadian startup offering secure delivery kiosks for package pickup became part of search advertising giant Google, as the holiday shopping season began in earnest. Although terms haven't been officially disclosed, TechCrunch cited two sources that place the price at upwards of $17 million.

BufferBox provides pickup stations for delivery of packages, where the shipments can be securely kept in place for the recipient. A customer with a BufferBox delivery receives a PIN via email that is used to unlock the kiosk and retrieve the package.

BufferBox began testing in its neighborhood near the University of Waterloo, and expanded through part of the Greater Toronto area. The startup evidently made an impression on their upstairs neighbors, who just happen to be an office of Google's operations according to the Financial Post.

The purchase seems to indicate a stronger interest in ecommerce beyond the bread-and-butter search advertising that has helped Google earn billions. We've seen Google expand its Dynamic Search Ads and move online merchants to paid Product Listing Ads in recent months.

Being able to provide a convenient delivery destination for its Google Shopping customers squares Google up against the likes of Amazon and Walmart. As Google routinely demonstrates control of roughly two-thirds of the U.S. search market, according to comScore rankings, there's no real competition for them to grow against in search.

Instead, it looks like Google shareholders will get to see how the company fares in the viciously competitive world of retail. One can almost assume that to make the BufferBox deal work, Google will end up partnering with bigger retailers (perhaps something like Target?) to get enough volume to make this a profitable deal.

Also see Getting Ecommerce Packages Safely to Point B and, Taking Amazon Delivery Lockers for a Spin at Staples.

About the Author
David A. Utter is a freelance writer based in Lexington, KY. Find him on Twitter @davidautter and on LinkedIn.

About the author:

David A. Utter is a freelance writer based in Lexington, KY. He has covered technology topics from search to security to online business and has been quoted in places like ZDNet and BusinessWeek. He considers his appearance on NPR's "All Things Considered" with long-time host Robert Siegel a delightful highlight. Send your tips to and find him on Twitter @davidautter and on LinkedIn.

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