E-commerce Can a car be a procurement platform?
People spend a lot of time each day in their cars, time which of course cannot be used for other purposes. But vehicles are becoming smarter, so it is only a question of time until products and services can be purchased using in-car technology.
This may still be a niche topic, but “in-car commerce” (using vehicles as platforms for purchasing goods and services) regularly features on the agendas of digital commerce experts.
It seems a logical progression. The latest generation of cars are increasingly equipped with smart technology and linked to the Internet. Larger and larger screens and voice control are becoming commonplace, which means the step to ordering and purchasing is not much of a leap.
What can be offered?
Products and services that are more or less directly related to the vehicle are obvious choices: fuel, toll fees or visits to the car wash. Processes are becoming quicker and more seamless for customers. Direct, in-car purchases also offer savings potential in terms of infrastructure, such as with card terminals.
Product groups matching the needs of the driver are also an option. Snacks, drinks and accessing music streams while driving are examples of products regularly purchased in cars.
Driven by technical development
Various technical developments are driving “in-car commerce”. Distracted drivers are a safety risk, so operating screens in a car can be tricky. But the prevalence of smart speakers means voice control is continually being improved and acceptance of the technology is growing. This trend does not stop with cars, where voice control is increasingly being deployed.
Further thrust is being provided by the growing autonomy of vehicles. Drivers around the world need to focus exclusively on their driving. But once vehicles become self-driving, people will start taking on a monitoring role and become more like passengers, thereby giving them more time for other things. Shopping, for instance: a supermarket order can be placed on the drive home and picked up from the store. Alternatively, couriers can bring the ordered goods straight to the parked car to which they have been given access by the owner for the order.
Customer journeys are becoming seamless
Simply transferring mechanisms from smartphone apps to the dashboard screen, however, will not be enough to ensure the success of “in-car commerce”. Instead, new and exciting business models need to be developed, which will require identification of actual customer requirements. After all, just because something is possible does not mean it will be used. In addition, it is likely that consumers will first need to become accustomed to the new options.
Many more obstacles
A number of obstacles need to be surmounted to implement “in-car commerce”. Technological platforms need to be open and compatible. If car manufacturers define their own standards and processes, use of this technology will be economically unfeasible to retailers.
This applies in turn to operating concepts. The basic operating models must work the same way across the board, as is already the case today with smartphones from the various manufacturers.
At the end of the day, it will be customers who decide which platforms and usage models will actually prevail. The challenge of “in-car commerce” for the retail world is incorporating an additional touchpoint in the customer journey to ensure the creation of a consistent customer experience.
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