The car as a shopping center

In-car commerce The car as a shopping center

Published on 24.09.2020, Anja Hendel

The future of mobility is probably one of the most exciting issues of our time. That’s because it won’t just affect private individuals, but will have an impact on every industry. For the retail sector, too, new opportunities for innovative business models and additional services are arising from the new mobility solutions.

Across the entire economy, including the retail sector, the pandemic has shown above all that those who invested early in digital skills and solutions have come through the crisis in better shape. In other words, investing in your own digital future is essential if you want to stay competitive. For retailers, this means that competing is no longer about the products on the shelves – customers can get them from anywhere with just a single click. It’s more about the emotions that develop between a customer and the product they want. Ultimately, it comes down to context – the situation and location at any given time. And this is where the issue of new mobility comes into play.

But how can the retail sector meet the increasingly complex customer needs? Let’s break this down a little. Retailers need to optimize the customer journey to turn it into an omnichannel experience, while simultaneously finding new ways to communicate with customers. Live streaming services, omnichannel inventory functions and smart check-out options are just some examples of how digital solutions can assist retailers and brands in their development.

The more touchpoint options retailers offer their customers, the greater the likelihood that customers will purchase their products.

And this is where cars come in. Car manufacturers are experimenting with technologies that already allow both the driver and passengers to use apps on the infotainment system to find parking spaces, watch films and make payments automatically at petrol stations. In other words, a car’s touchscreen is functioning as an online marketplace and a bridge to the outside world – a role that smartphones have already played for some time.

For retailers, the advent of the car as a shopping center will create a plethora of opportunities to harness the full potential of digitization for their own transformation and to integrate cars into their omnichannel strategy.

And what does it look like in practice? Retailers could offer complimentary trips to their stores or even to and from customers’ workplaces, providing that customers return the favour by shopping on the online marketplace of the brand or retailer while in transit.

One thing is clear: retailers should not miss out on the trend towards in-car commerce. They need to use the car as an additional sales channel. The real transformation currently taking place is the shift from us having to work to operate the car to the car working for us. And it’s precisely in this shift that in-car commerce can play a crucial role. That’s because in the right mobility context, the moment of inspiration is more important that the point of sale.

Unfortunately, Connecta cannot be held as planned. Anja Hendel would have been one of the 80 speakers. An alternative programme is available through Connecta TV, Doc and Talk – find out more at:

Anja Hendel, Managing Director, diconium.

The business informatics specialist is an expert in mobility innovations. Anja Hendel is chiefly responsible for developing future-oriented innovations at diconium, a Volkswagen subsidiary. Before taking up the role at diconium, Hendel headed the international team at the Berlin-based Porsche Digital Lab for more than two years and also worked for Celesio AG and Capgemini.

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