Albertsons, Google Strike Tech Partnership As Online Shopping Expands Into Search, Maps

Albertsons and Google announced a multiyear partnership Tuesday to make shopping easier and more convenient for millions of consumers. The grocery store chain is in 2,253 neighborhoods. 

The two companies have been quietly collaborating for the past year.

Numerous teams at Google have been working with Albertsons employees to implement at range of technologies and services aimed at making the customer experience more efficient.

One example provided includes the integration of Google Search and Maps to help shoppers easily find what they need. Another example points to shopping with Google Pay, and integrating Google Cloud AI technologies such as Vision AI, Recommendations AI, and Business Messages into operations to create a predictive online grocery engine.

The shopping information will become available in the stores’ Business Profiles on Maps and Search, including delivery providers, pickup and delivery windows, fees, and order minimums.

It initially will roll out in mobile Search starting with Instacart and Albertsons stores in the U.S., with plans to expand to Maps and other partners.

The two companies also are working on an online ordering system that will make it easier for customers to get groceries for pickup and delivery by linking the availability of store merchandise in mobile search. This functionality is coming to Google Maps later this year.

This summer, Google also will team up with the U.S. supermarket Fred Meyer, a division of The Kroger, on a pilot in select stores in Portland, Oregon. After the consumer places an order for pickup on the store’s app, they can add it to Maps. The app will send the consumer a notification when it’s time to leave, and let them share their arrival time with the store.

The consumer's estimated time of arrival continually updates based on location and traffic conditions. This helps the store prioritize the order so it’s ready as soon as the consumer arrives. With this technology, check-in becomes part of the Google Maps app.

Google said that this year the company is on track to bring more than 100 AI-powered improvements to Google Maps -- including the ability to navigate indoors with Live View, powered by a technology called global localization.

The technology uses artificial intelligence to scan tens of billions of Street View images to understand the consumer's location, and helps to understand the precise position and placement of objects inside a building, such as on a store shelf, in airports, or transit stations, as well as retail stores in malls. 

Live View can help someone find the nearest elevator and escalator in an airport, or locate an ATM machine.

The technology will begin to roll out in the coming months in select airports, malls, and transit stations in Tokyo and Zurich, with more cities on the way. 

Data from partners including The Weather Company, and the Central Pollution Board supports information about weather conditions in a specific area.

This information will become available on Android and iOS in the coming months. The weather layer will be available globally, and the air-quality layer will launch in Australia, India, and the U.S., with more countries to come. 




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