How Autonomous Vehicles Will Boost Ecommerce (and We’re Not Talking About Driverless Deliveries)
Well, maybe we should talk about driverless deliveries first. Few recent conversations about transportation, especially last-mile delivery, haven’t touched on the implications of driverless vehicles, including drones. But the vast majority of ecommerce customers have yet to receive their purchases through anything other than traditional channels.
Even when driverless and drone delivery becomes commonplace, it really doesn’t offer ecommerce customers any advantage. They get their goods all the same and they already enjoy free shipping on most purchases anyway.
So the advantages of autonomous vehicle deliveries will be mainly enjoyed by shippers and transportation companies. Lower vehicle operating costs and fewer delays are prime among them.
But a recent news story hints at the start of an automotive trend that can only be a boost to already skyrocketing ecommerce sales.
GM Introduces an Ecommerce Platform for Connected Vehicles
If using mobile phones is a distraction to drivers, we can’t imagine the catastrophes the ability to shop while driving will bring. But, fear not, GM assures us that its truly ‘mobile’ ecommerce platform, Marketplace, will adhere to industry distracted driving guidelines. And, to be clear, it’s not like you’ll be able to buy a sofa while driving to work.
At least not yet.
Marketplace is compatible with current embedded 4G connectivity in millions of 2017 and 2018 GM vehicles. The company touts the application as “the automotive industry’s first commerce platform for on-demand reservations and purchases of goods and services.”
The current shopping options are limited mainly to automotive and food options. Specifically, companies like Starbucks and Applebees will show you where their nearest locations are, let you order ahead and show you how to get there. GM customers can shop from discounts on service, parts and accessories.
Here’s the Part About the Boost to Ecommerce
With current distracted driver guidelines, it’s not really possible to truly ‘shop’ while driving, even with an app like Marketplace. But as vehicles become ever more autonomous, and the transportation grid transforms to accommodate them, that may change.
And GM sees the potential payoff. Santiago Chamorro, GM’s VP of Global Connected Customer Experience gets straight to the point. “For most retailers and consumer brands the daily commute is the only time not accessible in a consumers’ day”.
Put Marketplace together with a truly driverless vehicle and what do you get? The potential for ecommerce retailers to reach customers, and take orders, at literally every waking moment.
As a third-party logistics company, our job is to make sure our customers are aware of and take of advantage of current tools and technologies. But that doesn’t necessarily make us great predictors of what the future holds..
But here’s a random guess. Can we be far off from delivering goods, bought from a vehicle, to the vehicle while it’s still enroute?! Imagine a drone hovering over your vehicle and dropping your purchase through the sunroof!
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