Maximizing in-vehicle commerce through the software-defined era



Commerce practices tailored to the vehicle lifecycle have existed for decades, from infrastructure designed around consumer journeys to the services that help extend it. In recent years, however, OEMs have leveraged new technologies to embed these practices more deeply inside the vehicle – enhancing today’s consumer experiences, while enabling unique use cases in the future. Likewise, for OEMs and suppliers, embracing in-vehicle commerce unlocks new opportunities to expand their offerings and boost profitability.


What makes a great in-vehicle commerce use case?

Successful use cases need to solve real problems for the user. For in-vehicle commerce, simply offering an alternative to the merchant’s app or transaction flow will limit its potential unless the user can benefit from it. Here, the focus should be to remove friction points from a transaction and provide a seamless, convenient, experience. Merchants are already working to make their app-based service selection and payment functions easier to use; so how can OEMs and their partners choose the best use cases to focus on?


A good place to start is by considering the unique elements the OEM can bring to the use case. In ANPR-based tolling, for example, elements like sensor data and in-vehicle HMI could help reduce friction from the payment process. The merchant can identify the vehicle but relies on the user to bind their identity and payment details per transaction – often through the merchant’s website. The OEM or partner can bring value to this use case by matching the vehicle’s location to the ANPR record, allowing the driver to automatically pay through the HMI while handling pre-registration of the payment method and authentication. This integration would relieve the driver of a post-journey toll payment – removing friction and adding convenience.


Bringing new consumer experiences to the vehicle

Delivering convenience is ultimately the goal of in-vehicle commerce, especially within its consumer-centric use cases where it is already expected. Contrasting the example above, these cases streamline the user’s digital life by integrating familiar non-automotive commerce experiences into the vehicle. Use cases for the food and beverage sector especially help demonstrate the capabilities of in-vehicle commerce today as well as its potential for expansion.


Amazon Alexa, accessed through auto accessories with Alexa Built-In or natively in newer vehicles, supports these cases through Alexa Skills that expand its functionality. To date, vendors such as Domino’s, McDonald’s, and Starbucks have developed their own that can be used in Alexa smart speakers and Alexa Built-in devices. These skills add new voice commands that help users to start a new order, repeat previous orders, find their nearest pickup point, and more. Select skills also support or directly integrate Amazon Pay, which enables Alexa to process payments independently.


Here, the core objectives of in-vehicle commerce are met – adding convenience through quick accessibility while minimizing friction with a native solution for payment. The above use case speaks particularly to the software and ecosystem potential for in-vehicle commerce as OEMs begin to look beyond the industry for new collaborations. Within food and beverage, vendors could work with OEMs to understand how they can integrate their services more holistically into the in-vehicle user experience. OEMs could likewise partner with vendors or tech giants who offer a seamless, efficient, and convenient experience for every transaction.





In-Vehicle Commerce tomorrow

Much like its consumer-centric use cases, in-vehicle commerce has a growing number of touchpoints across the vehicle lifecycle. While commonly utilized in processes that help support or extend it, there is a similar potential for OEMs to benefit from in-vehicle commerce at different points throughout this lifecycle. A demonstration at the dealership, for example, could showcase the convenience it offers for many user experiences – heightening appeal for new and returning customers. As it becomes a more integral part of the user experience, new opportunities are presented for OEMs to incentivize this loyalty and maximize profits – especially as more use cases begin to roll out.


“Similarly to the internet boom and bust in the early 2000s, in-vehicle commerce to date has promised much and delivered very little. We have now reached a point where compelling solutions are being created that can allow it to realise its full potential, albeit at a far slower rate than originally predicted.“ - Adam Jefferson, SBD Automotive’s UX Specialist.


For all parties involved, the appeal of in-vehicle commerce will only continue to grow as the vehicle transitions into a third living space, a goal that OEMs are already acting on. Its opportunity today and future potential is similarly expansive. In adapting the digital wallet for the vehicle, it follows the footsteps of similarly reimagined consumer technologies that together aim to provide a holistic, convenient, digital user experience.


In developing our new In-Vehicle Commerce report, we mapped out the qualities needed for its existing and future use cases to succeed. Our experts similarly explored the key factors driving multiple industries towards in-vehicle commerce, while analyzing the capabilities each one could bring to automotive.


You can find out more about In-Vehicle Commerce here