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Albertsons and Google this morning announced what they called "a multi-year partnership to make shopping easier and more convenient for millions of customers nationwide."  The deal includes planned innovations around consumer-facing functionality such as "shoppable maps with dynamic hyperlocal features … AI-powered conversational commerce … (and) predictive grocery list building."

In addition, the announcement says, the companies "are making it even easier for customers to get groceries for pickup and delivery, by providing helpful information about online ordering from many Albertsons Cos.’ stores directly within mobile search. This functionality is coming to Google Maps later this year."

“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,” said Chris Rupp, EVP and Chief Customer & Digital Officer at Albertsons, in a prepared 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."

The announcement says that "Google and Albertsons Cos. have been collaborating behind the scenes for the past year and, as part of the partnership announcement today, are debuting several new enhancements that will make the shopping experience easier and more exciting. Albertsons Cos. has engaged with numerous teams at Google, covering a wide range of technologies and services aimed at making the customer experience more efficient … Google’s partnership with Albertsons Cos. will build on projects already implemented to improve the customer experience. For example, earlier this month, Albertsons announced its use of Business Messages to help people get up-to-date information about COVID-19 vaccines at Albertsons Cos. pharmacies."

KC's View:

The word from within Albertsons is that there is a real commitment there to using technology to drive real innovations that will make it ever-more competitive with the likes of Walmart and Amazon.  It is a cultural shift within the company, I'm told, not cosmetic or ephemeral.

I think there is every reason to think that while the acceleration toward e-grocery will slow down if/when the pandemic recedes, the broader acceptance of e-commerce as a way to buy food will continue … and everything Albertsons can do, in concert with relevant partners, to facilitate shifting consumer habits is critical to remaining relevant.

It's interesting.

The New York Times had a story the other day about how Google is approaching the e-commerce challenge, noting that it has not been nearly as successful as hoped in becoming a legitimate competitor to Amazon … and so now it is trying to get out of its own way by working to facilitate the ways in which brands connect to shoppers.

And so Google is highly motivated to make relationships like the one with Albertsons work.