By Mike Pomranz | FoodAndWine.Com
Troy Warren #foodie-all
Grocery pickup and delivery were already growing before the COVID-19 pandemic, but social distancing and stay-at-home orders rushed these services into the mainstream. For instance, Google says searches for “curbside pickup” are up 9,000 percent compared to March of last year. So now, the tech giant is making utilizing these and other services even easier by partnering with grocers and adding new features to both Google Maps and Search that can streamline all sorts of aspects of the shopping experience.
In the first of two major updates, Google says they are adding “helpful shopping information like fulfillment options, pickup and delivery windows, fees, and order minimums, to stores’ Business Profiles on Maps and Search.” Initially, this additional info will debut on mobile Search with two partner companies: Instacart and Albertsons Companies stores—which beyond their namesake stores also includes nearly 20 other brands, a total of over 2,250 locations nationwide. Google says that they plan to include this information for other stores “soon,” and that all of the info will eventually land in Maps as well.
Second, arriving this summer, Google Maps will add a pilot with the Kroger-owned Fred Meyer chain in Portland, Oregon, that will allow you to integrate parts of your curbside pickup directly into the app. “After you place an order for pickup on the store’s app, you can add it to Maps,” Google writes. “We’ll send you a notification when it’s time to leave, and let you share your arrival time with the store. Your ETA is continuously updated, based on location and traffic. This helps the store prioritize your order so it’s ready as soon as you get there. Check in on the Google Maps app, and they’ll bring your order right out for a seamless, fast, no-contact pickup.”
These feature announcements come on the heels of an announcement earlier in the week that Albertsons and Google had forged a multiyear partnership and had already been working together over the past year. Beyond the aforementioned features, the two companies also promised, “Shoppable maps with dynamic hyperlocal features; AI-powered conversational commerce; [and] Predictive grocery list building.”
“Albertsons Companies is leading the way in bringing innovative technologies to the grocery store digital and physical aisle,” Carrie Tharp, VP of retail and consumer for Google Cloud, stated. “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.”