Google BufferBox hits San Francisco as online order lockers spreak

Google's BufferBox acquisition has spread to its second location, San Francisco, offering residents a place to have online shopping delivered when they can't be at home. The next launch outside of BufferBox's Toronto debut, BufferBox is still in its early roll-out in San Francisco, Google said today.

That means locations are relatively limited, at least initially, though Google promises that will increase over time. There's currently fourteen spots where a BufferBox locker system has been installed, according to the service's location map, ranging from convenience stores through to coffee shops.

BufferBox works by offering a bank of kiosks for temporarily storing received goods. Shippers send a parcel to a central warehouse, and then BufferBox distributes it out to the different lockers around the city.

When your package is available, you get an email with a confirmation and a PIN code to actually open up the locker. After 72 business hours of not having been collected, abandoned packages are re-collected by BufferBox.

It's a similar setup to what Amazon attempted to do with its own Amazon Lockers system, though of course available to every online retailer wanting to make a delivery, not just the one. Amazon ran into some issues with its roll-out recently, however, with RadioShack and Staples ending the partnerships after concerns that they weren't benefiting from giving Amazon customers the convenience to shop online and pick up locally.

Whether Google and BufferBox will encounter the same problems remains to be seen. Google seems keen to push its own Google Shopping Express service with the lockers, but the general availability of the cubbies to store goods from any retailer might encourage more positivity than Amazon's single-vendor service.