What’s the future of grocery shopping? Albertsons is Googling it.
In a move officials say is transforming the retailer by applying leading technology in service of customer-friendly features such as shoppable maps, predictive list-building and conversational commerce, Albertsons Cos. and Google have announced a multiyear partnership, creating what they said would be a “formidable nexus of retail savvy and trendsetting technology on a massive, omnichannel scale.”
The Boise, Idaho-based retailer has been at work on such capabilities with Google for more than a year. This week’s announcement details a suite of customer-facing applications that officials had said were on the way. These integrate Google Search and Maps to help shoppers more easily find what they need, make payment more convenient with Google Pay, and infuse Google Cloud AI technologies such as Vision AI, Recommendations AI and Business Messages into operations, creating what the companies called “the world’s most predictive grocery engine.”
Albertsons’ partnership with Google comes as a common rival to both—Amazon—itself gets deeper into the grocery game behind a growing fleet of retail stores backed by its own suite transformative tech solutions. Other retailers have made similar moves to partner with cloud-computing giants—Walmart and Microsoft, for example—as the grocery wars are increasingly fought in the cloud.
“Albertsons Cos. is continuing to transform into a modern retailer fit for the future, and we are leading the industry forward by providing the easiest and most exciting shopping experience for our customers,” Chris Rupp, EVP and chief customer and digital officer for Albertsons Cos., said in a statement. “In bringing together Google’s technology expertise with our commitment to customer-centric innovation, we’re providing our customers with a superior shopping experience no matter how they choose to shop with us.”
Google’s partnership with Albertsons will build on projects already implemented to improve the customer experience, they said. For example, Albertsons is using Google’s Business Messages capabilities to communicate with shoppers about COVID vaccine availability at its pharmacies. The technology uses AI-based chat to relay information and integrates other Google products such as Maps to direct consumers to stores.
“Albertsons is leading the way in bringing innovative technologies to the grocery store digital and physical aisle,” said Carrie Tharp, VP of retail and consumer for Google Cloud. “We’re proud to partner with Albertsons to streamline processes and power innovative shopping experiences for customers. The unique strategic and technical collaboration at the heart of the Google and Albertsons partnership sets the stage for sustained post-pandemic transformation and momentum that will become clear to customers in both the near and long term.”
AL-based enhancements to Google Maps, for example, are helping to make it easier for customers to order groceries for pickup and delivery. Google is now bringing helpful shopping information to stores’ Business Profiles on Maps and Search, like delivery providers, pickup and delivery windows, fees, and order minimums. This is now available on mobile search with Albertsons and Instacart, with further plans to expand the service to additional partners and Google products, Tharp said in a blog post.
The same new capabilities will also help pilot a new grocery pickup feature coming to The Kroger Cos.’ Fred Meyer division this summer, Tharp added. That will allow online shoppers to add online grocery orders to Maps, which in turn will alert the shopper when they should leave to pick up the order, ensuring a seamless checkout.