Boise-based Albertsons announced a new partnership with Google to add an array of new technology tools to ease grocery buying.
The two companies worked together for the past year, before formally announcing and rolling out the first pieces of the deal. They said will continue to work together in a multi-year partnership designed to further boost Albertsons Companies’ tech offerings.
Albertsons’ news release hypes the partnership as “creating a formidable nexus of retail savvy and trend-setting technology on a massive, omnichannel scale.”
Search, maps integration
Beyond the buzzwords, the company says it will allow it to more deeply integrate into Google services like search, Google Pay, Google Maps and more.
One of the first pieces of the partnership will allow customers to order grocery delivery from right within Google’s search products.
With just a few clicks, users can choose their store, delivery method and see product information all within Google. Albertsons says the product will launch on Google Maps as well later this year.
Separately, Google said it started a trial with Kroger Co’s Fred Meyer in Portland that will allow for even deeper functionality, including alerts, location data sharing and more.
Albertsons says it hopes to build out shoppable maps, predictive grocery list building, and “AI-powered conversational commerce,” like audio chatbots.
“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,” Albertsons EVP Chris Rupp said. “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.”
More tech to come
Rupp told industry publication Progressive Grocer that the Google partnership kicked off last April with an innovation day. She told the publication the company is “just scratching the surface on using technology to make grocery shopping easier.” Rupp is a former Amazon executive who heads up the company’s technology initiatives.
Albertsons put technology at the center of much of its strategy in recent years under CEO Vivek Sankaran. As BoiseDev noted, the company is trialing robot grocery carts, launched a new payment system, launched a robot grocery kiosk, added nationwide pharmacy delivery, and even considered an Amazon Prime-like membership offering.
The company operates Safeway, Carrs, Vonsand Albertsons. It was founded in Boise in 1939.
The twists and turns of Albertsons
Albertsons’ history gets a bit complicated at times. Joe Albertson founded the chain in Boise in 1939 – and it slowly, steadily grew over the years. In 1999, the company bought Utah-based American Stores and for a time grew to the largest grocer in the nation.
In 2001, Larry Johnston took over as CEO and Chairman. After five tumultuous years, the company sold itself off in 2006. Standalone drugstores went to CVS and rebranded. The bulk of the grocery stores, 1,124, including those in Idaho, were sold to Supervalu. A new company was formed to take over 661 so-called “underperforming” Albertsons stores, led by a consortium of investors led by Cerberus Capital. The Cerberus stores were based in Boise – despite not owning the locations here.
In 2013, after Supervalu struggled with the stores it bought, it sold them to the Cerberus-led company – reassembling the bulk of the grocery company. Headquarters for the company remained in Boise – and now included oversight of the Boise-area stores.
In 2014, Albertsons purchased Safeway – and in the years since worked to transition to many of Safeway’s back office functionality.