Google buys parcel storage service BufferBox

BufferBox operates a network of storage lockers where people can receive deliveries when they're not home

Google has bought some more storage, but not the digital kind. The company has acquired BufferBox, a Canadian startup that offers temporary storage lockers where people can receive online purchases when they're not at home.

BufferBox is based in Waterloo, Ontario, and has a network of storage lockers in the area around Toronto. Users sign up for the service and then provide a BufferBox shipping address to online retailers.

Parcels get delivered to the lockers, and users retrieve them with an access code sent via email. The locker can then be used for someone else.

The purchase could help Google expand its e-commerce business, though rivals including Amazon.com already have similar services.

BufferBox is free until the end of the year, though the company eventually planned to charge US$3 or $4 per delivery, according to a newspaper that was briefed on the deal.

BufferBox will continue to build out its service under Google, according to a blog post Friday on the startup's website. Google confirmed the deal but didn't provide details, including how much it paid. It was reportedly an investor in the company, and its regional office is upstairs from BufferBox's headquarters.

"We want to remove as much friction as possible from the shopping experience, while helping consumers save time and money, and we think the BufferBox team has a lot of great ideas around how to do that," Google said in a statement sent via email.

Earlier this week, Google was said to have bought ICOA, a Wi-Fi service provider, but that deal turned out to be a hoax.

James Niccolai covers data centers and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow James on Twitter at @jniccolai. James's e-mail address is james_niccolai@idg.com

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