Google Acquires BufferBox, Physical Lockers For Online Purchases

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The rise in online shopping influenced Google to acquire the Waterloo, Ontario startup BufferBox, which provides a network of physical, not virtual, parcel pickup stations for package deliveries. Among the growing number of locations, the company launched a network of parcel pickup stations with Metrolinx in October. The service is free through 2012.

A little off the beaten path when it comes to Google's acquisition strategy, BufferBox set up storage lockers in and around Toronto, allowing consumers to receive packages and pick them up at their convenience. A consumer sets up the service and gives it to the merchant as a delivery address.

"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 spokesperson told MediaPost.

When packages arrive, consumers receive an email notification and single-use personal identification number they enter at the locker and retrieve the package. BufferBox was one early funded company by incubator Y Combinator.

Shoppers spent about $1.46 billion on Cyber Monday, compared with $1.25 billion a year ago, according to data firm comScore. Supporting that trend, a growing number of temporary locker services as online sales continue to climb.

News agency Reuters reports that Staples in the U.S. agreed to install Amazon Lockers. Similar to BufferBox, Amazon's service sends customers an email with a pickup code they enter on a touchscreen to open the self-serve locker containing the package. Shoppers have three days from delivery to pick up the package.

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