From purchasing entire cars online, to transforming the vehicle itself into a touchpoint that is IoT-enabled to offer direct-to-consumer mobility services, the automotive industry is on the precipice of a monumental change. Here, we look at how the automotive industry is fundamentally transforming thanks to the integration of new commerce tech, and how you can get in the driver’s seat to stay ahead of the curve.
Buying everything online has become so natural for us, yet the car industry has lagged behind. That’s because transactions are usually not done via a website, but rather while visiting a dealer showroom. Yet, according to research, 75% of customers are eager to take such matters to the online world. And some car manufacturers have begun responding.
Now, progressive car manufacturers are putting more focus on delivering inspiring and intuitive user experiences. Potential customers can find out more information about cars and use elaborate configurators to assemble their preferred look online. Furthermore, they can also make appointments for test drives and look into financing and leasing options – all from the comfort of home.
“We support our group brands in setting up online stores where customers can easily and conveniently browse and buy from the Volkswagen Group’s large product range. A central eCommerce platform is an important component of the brands’ digitization strategy. We are, therefore, establishing an attractive, additional sales channel for the group brands, importers and dealers.”
– Christoph F. Moeller, Head of Digital Commerce, CARIAD, a Volkswagen Group company
IoT Connected Cars
What used to be four wheels and an engine is now a device which plugs into the Internet of Things, sending and receiving data. A connected car is equipped with telematics boxes which can establish an internet connection through a GSM module – similar to a smartphone – and is characterized by eight segments:
- Mobility management: real-time traffic, route and parking information for reaching a destination quickly, safely and in a cost-efficient manner
- Commerce: purchase goods or services while on-the-go
- Vehicle management: service and repair reminders reduce operating costs and improve ease of use
- Breakdown prevention: a backend algorithm predicts breakdowns and notifies the driver via phone, SMS or push notification
- Safety: warns the driver of external hazards, sensors prevent accidents from happening and call systems can request emergency services
- Entertainment: drivers and passengers can access a smartphone interface, WLAN hotspot, music, video, internet and social media
- Driver assistance: partially or fully automatic driving, such as operational assistance or autopilot in heavy traffic, in parking or on highways
- Well-being: fatigue detection, automatic environment adjustments to keep drivers alert and medical assistance
Imagine driving home from work and suddenly remembering something you urgently need to buy. Now imagine telling your car what you need and being directed to the nearest store that carries it…by your car. No, this isn’t in a sci-fi movie; this is what’s happening right now. With a connected car, drivers now have a digital butler at their fingertips.
Using built-in voice interfaces such as Amazon Echo, passengers can interact with apps and services, get shopping done, order food in advance from their favorite restaurant, search for a parking spot and check tomorrow’s weather forecast. Connected cars can also search for nearby gas stations and pay via the dashboard – and being able to pay through the dashboard opens up whole new opportunities to pay for things with your car. For electric cars, drivers can look for a nearby charging station and provide the relevant information to pay and charge their car.
What else can be purchased through a car? A lot more! Drivers can buy “Functions-on-Demand” to tailor their own driving experience. They can upgrade things like their lighting, driving assist systems and engine capabilities, as well as add infotainment as subscription services. Plus, with buyable “infotainment” digital services, drivers will be able to access all kinds of information about their car to keep them informed about maintenance, including low fuel level, total distance covered, brake oil level and other relevant information to keep the driver informed.
Get in the game with commercetools
In-car payments represent a potential $212 billion business opportunity. And car manufacturers are jumping onboard by shifting their focus to delivering connected cars that offer D2C mobility services. Don’t get left behind. You need a commerce backend that scales limitlessly, facilitates more immersive brand experiences and allows you to add any touchpoint you want, seamlessly. You need commercetools.
“Customers increasingly value simplicity and convenience. With commercetools’ platform technology, we are able to focus on our customers and deliver unique retail experiences. (…) For a big company like Audi, commercetools adds value by redefining the development process of products and services. Speed, flexibility, and sustainability are key ingredients when it comes to product development.”
– Matthes Kohndrow, Product Owner Digital Business, AUDI AG
The headless, API-first, microservices-based architecture of the commercetools platform provides the future-proof connectivity automakers need to continually adapt to innovation and change. Being cloud-native, commercetools guarantees the flexible, scalable environment needed for car manufacturers to produce connected vehicles that deliver high-performing, responsive mobile experiences, and ensure futuristic mobility concepts can become a reality. It also provides the flexible technology to build smooth digital shopping experiences in the automotive sector.
In other words, with commercetools, you’ll have the freedom to liberate your automotive commerce to innovate, scale and deliver the most cutting-edge platform possible.
If you want to discover even more about what changes the automotive industry is going through and the many new opportunities emerging, read our white paper: Connected Cars: Disruption in Mobility.