On Friday, New York based OnlineMediaDaily, the declared largest and most influential media, marketing and advertising online site on the net, reported that Waterloo Ontario based startup BufferBox will be acquired by Google primarily for its network of physical parcel pick-up station capabilities.  The media outlet quotes a Google spokesperson as indicating that the global information content and services provider, with this acquisition, wants to remove as much friction from the shopping experience as possible. BufferBox an early-stage startup and its web site notes that after launching a very successful pilot at the University of Waterloo, the start-up focused efforts on rolling out a network of pick-up stations across the Greater Toronto Area.  BufferBox founders also acknowledge the acquisition by Google on their web site.

In March of this year, Supply Chain Matters noted that Google was making plans to offer a variety of co-branded tablet computers directly to consumers via an online store concept similar to sites such as Amazon and Apple.  Similar to Google’s failed experiment with its branded Nexus One phone in 2010, the effort was directed at providing a direct consumer fulfillment model, and was speculated to include the ability to also up-sell various electronic content services. At the time, The Wall Street Journal quoted people familiar with this strategy as indicating that Google believes that the current model for selling tablets is broken, including the inability of wireless carriers to gain any market traction as a fulfillment channel.  Also reported was that the company is considering subsidizing the cost of future tablets in order to be able to compete on pricing with Amazon’s Kindle Fire. The WSJ article stressed however, that physical stores will still remain an important channel for Google.

Whether BufferBox is another component of this strategy, particularly in enabling same-day or a next-day delivery capability is certainly fuel for added speculation.  In any case, we thought the announcement was an interesting one and therefore share it with our Supply Chain Matters readers.

Bob Ferrari