Retail goes for a ride

by The Infor Retail team February 23, 2017 Digital Transformation

How changes in automobiles are transforming commerce

At this year’s Consumer Electronics Expo in Las Vegas, Chrysler unveiled a new concept car that eschewed luxury and sporting features for some curious additions that drew attention from around the internet. The crown jewel: cameras on the back of each seat that can take selfies of passengers throughout the vehicle, allowing riders to post from social media without having to pull out their phones.

Also included with the car, dubbed the Portal, are plug-in ports for charging phones on the road, “zoned audio” that allows each passenger to listen to a different playlist without having to wear headphones, and a central display that lets riders craft collaborative playlists from the media on their phones.

Millennials are driving automotive evolution

Millennials are already more likely to consider the environmental impacts of a car than Gen Xers, who prioritize price, reliability, and brand when purchasing a new vehicle. But the Portal concept car suggests that millennials might also place value on something entirely new: a more connected, more social driving experience.

Taking that concept to the next level, multiple car manufacturers including Volkswagen, Ford, and Hyundai announced that they’d be bringing a feature to their cars that seems to confirm the move toward a car as a connected smart platform: Amazon’s Alexa. In addition to having access to Alexa’s normal smart assistant features, drivers of Alexa-enabled vehicles can unlock the car from a home or office, add destinations to the car’s navigation system, and even check to see how much gas is left in the tank.

Taking omni-channel commerce on the road

For retailers, the opportunity here is apparent. The internet of things was already a primary topic of discussion in the industry, but as automobiles begin to implement the technology in a big way, the network gains a new, more mobile aspect. One thing that’s worth keeping a close eye on is Alexa’s ability to purchase new car supplies. By using Volkswagen’s Car-Net technology, Alexa-enabled Volkswagen cars can tell an owner what type of motor oil or windshield wiper their vehicle model uses, and they can simply ask Alexa to make the purchase—demystifying the purchase process and making it more convenient than ever.

As this technology grows more complex, retailers will need to find new ways to reach consumers in a new context: while they’re on the road. But aside from having to deliver through new channels, retailers will also need to brace themselves for all the data that will soon pour in through IoT-enabled vehicles. While the tech still has yet to prove itself in an automotive context, and in some cases, is still in a conceptual phase, the potential impact of smart, connected cars is a development that retailers need to start accounting for.

Learn more about the future of omni-channel retail.


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