Internet connectivity is becoming ubiquitous. To make connectivity to the internet even more seamless in more places, newer cars are being equipped with WiFi. But the connectivity in a personal vehicle is more than just getting access to web searches or social media. Already, Tesla uses it to perform over-the-air software updates on the Model S. The technology also could allow car manufacturers to remotely handle software-related recalls and issues, making the auto experience more desirable for consumers. And that’s just the beginning. A senior analyst of automotive infotainment and HMI has predicted that cars with connectivity will eventually enable things we haven’t even imagined yet.
For consumers, an Internet-ready car could give passengers the ability to do more. Forget downloading multiple movies for an iPad or bringing DVDs on a road trip; passengers can stream movies and shows instantly on Netflix, check the weather forecast along the way, post updates to their social media feeds and research where to go and what to do right from their car – and without using data from their cell phone plans.
That’s all well and good, but, how would consumers and retailers take advantage of connected cars for payments? Consumers want seamless purchasing experiences. With in-car WiFi, this process can become even easier. Consumers won’t have to wait until they get home or have cell service to access the internet. The added convenience factor this provides is that they can connect to the internet from their vehicle’s console and shop on their mobile devices while they’re already out and ready to buy.
Internet-connected cars will open the doors for many retailers to make it even easier for consumers to make purchases on the go. For instance, by enabling payment through cars at the gas station, customers could connect their payments through their cars and pay automatically at the pump once they are done refueling. When ordering at a drive-thru restaurant, one of the most inconvenient things is needing to dig into back pockets for wallets or reaching far into the back seat for purses. With WiFi-enabled vehicles, customers could potentially order ahead and pay at the restaurant before or as they drive up, without having to go through any hassle. The same feature could be used when buying or picking up prescription drugs. Consumers could pay from the parking lot as an employee comes out to deliver the medication. With mobile banking on the rise, we could potentially also see these connected cars offer banking features. Consumers may be able to check their account balances, withdraw money from the ATM without ever touching their cards, manage finances and pay bills.
For retailers, the power of WiFi-enabled vehicles could mean adding an additional layer of marketing to their program. Retailers can send out push notifications about deals and promotions to consumers who are within a certain mile radius of the restaurant or store by using geolocation within mobile device or beacon technology. Based on regular shopping habits, consumers may even one day be able to get prompted by their car with items they need from the retailer, and the store can have it ready for pick up – already paid for – when the consumer arrives. The future of vehicles with Internet connectivity has the potential to create opportunities for omnichannel purchasing for consumers at all times. For instance, imagine money transfers from vehicle to vehicle. Or, say you are on vacation with friends or family and someone needs money for tolls or for parking, the in-car WiFi could potentially allow you to share the cost of the road trip within a few seconds.
This technology won’t only exist in cars. Many planes already enable omnichannel purchasing while passengers are in the air. Western Europe and Japan offer advanced train networks that offer omnichannel retailing. Onboard retailing offers go beyond just food and beverages and include hotel stays, car rentals, tickets to local attractions and more. Having omnichannel retailing available to passengers allows the rails to stay relevant to their customers’ needs while also driving better customer service. This technology is booming and will eventually be a norm for consumers. With omnichannel retailing, the shopping process will move from only in-store and online to anywhere and everywhere the consumer is.
Omnichannel retailing is providing customers with more convenience and a more continuous shopping experience. Companies should to start understanding where their customers are with omnichannel purchasing and begin implementing strategies that adopt it.