Google invests in shipping with acquisition of Canadian YC alum BufferBox

BufferBox, the recent graduate of Y Combinator that provides lockers where ecommerce customers can pick up their packages, has been acquired by Google, the company announced in a blog post today. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but a Google (s goog) engineer told the Toronto-based Financial Post that the company plans to put its resources behind BufferBox to allow the startup to keep innovating the in realm of shipping and end-to-end delivery.

“We’re going to keep doing BufferBox,” Google Waterloo engineering director Steve Woods told the Financial Post. “We’re not going to go into great detail about our future plans, but we think there’s a real exciting space beyond this amazing start with boxes, and the idea of touching consumers as part of their end-to-end experience is something we’re going to explore together.”

BufferBox provides lockers in retail stores for customers to ship their packages to, handy for people who aren’t home during the day when delivery trucks drop off packages. Om Malik wrote why BufferBox would be attractive to a company like Google, which has been testing same-day delivery and getting more interested in the physical distribution process:

If you are wondering why these retail chains are sleeping with the enemy, the answer is foot traffic. If people are coming to stores to pick up their packages, there is some likelihood that they might pick up other goods. Groceries or Big Gulps, sure, but paper goods and electronics, too.

However, fear of Amazon is enough to get Google or some other giant galvanized into snapping up this startup. I have heard rumors that Google is interested in buying the company for an amount that should get the angel investors singing in the rain.  Google, which is pushing hard to get traction for its Google Checkout service, could use something like BufferBox as a way to get more businesses to use its service. For retailers, the lure of foot traffic is pretty strong.

With Google putting its resources behind the startup that already counts people like Paul Graham among its fans, BufferBox could become an even more interesting competitor to Amazon’s locker service, which performs a very similar service. But how exactly Google uses it, and what people ship to the lockers remains to be seen.

Updated: A Google spokeswoman provided this statement on the acquisition: “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.”