In 2020 there were 30 million connected cars sold globally. Which equates to 41% of new car sales, worldwide.

And it is predicted that in 2025, 115 million connected cars will be sold.

But, what has this got to do with commerce?

Connected cars are presenting an opportunity for retailers to engage with drivers even before they reach their shopping destination. In fact, even before they realise they need to go shopping in the first place.

Because cars can provide the connection point between consumers’ everyday activity and new commerce experiences.

Sound interesting? We certainly think so.

What are connected cars?

Connected cars fall under the category of the Internet of Things (IoT). Which refers to items we use every day being connected to the internet, and one another, with the goal of making our lives easier.

A connected car has its own internet connection, which allows it to share internet access and data with other devices. Both in the car and outside of it. And as well as products, this can also include services and people.

It’s true that onboard diagnostics and in-car computer systems have been around for over 25 years. However, it’s only recently that manufacturers have made these systems available to drivers and companies.

Why? Because consumers are demanding constant connectivity, and the benefits this brings.

Therefore, connected cars provide advanced technology such as sensors and computers. And combine this with a connectivity infrastructure, such as location-based data, eCommerce payments, and social networks. This means that connected cars can monitor drivers’ behaviour and routines, anticipating their needs and streamlining their daily processes.

Connected car use cases

To put this into context, here are some examples of what connected cars can actually do. And every day processes they can improve.

Sat nav

One example of connected cars which you may be familiar with is sat navs.

Specifically, connected cars are able to use traffic monitoring functionality to identify if there is a hold up on your regular route, and offer you alternative routes to avoid it.

Starting the car

Using your connected car app, you can start your car engine remotely, which is particularly useful for defrosting your window and warming up the car in the winter months.

Additionally, you can also lock your car remotely, or flash its lights and honk its horn if you are struggling to find your car in a car park.

Getting petrol

Obviously, regular cars are able to detect when they are low on petrol. However, as well as flagging this, connected cars will immediately direct you to the closest petrol station.

You can save your payment details within your connected car app, so as soon as you pull up to a pump it is immediately enabled and you will be automatically charged for the petrol you use.

Stopping for a coffee

If you stop off at a coffee shop every morning whilst travelling to work, your connected car would detect this routine.

Therefore, on your regular drive, your connected car can suggest coffee shops that you may like to order from.

And even more impressively, these cars can take into account other elements, such as the weather. So, if it’s particularly hot outside, your car can suggest an iced coffee instead of a hot one.

Purchasing everyday items

For busy consumers on the go, drivers can sync shopping lists on their mobile devices with their cars.

On your way home from work, your connected car app will remind you to pick up these items. You can place this order directly from your car, which notifies the shop. Then as you arrive, the store is alerted and someone can bring your order out for pick up.

Benefits to commerce brands

This all sounds great, but what is the connection with commerce brands?

Powerful consumer insights

Commerce brands are constantly thinking about how they can better serve their customers.

And the key to achieving this is customer data.

Connected cars provide highly insightful new data to help commerce brands gain a better understanding of their audience.

For brands that are already linked to cars, such as manufacturers and car insurance, this could mean data on driving behaviour and maintenance. Or for brands not directly linked to cars, there are various opportunities for learning. Such as media regularly consumed, technology used, or shops often visited.

All of which helps to build up an individual profile. Which is particularly useful for the next benefit.

Better customer experiences

Using all of this insightful data, connected cars can provide commerce brands with the ability to address specific customer needs, sometimes before the customer does.

This can be achieved using regular data, as discussed, but also real-time data, such as time of day, weather, or the route currently being taken.

For instance, if a consumer is delayed on their regular route home, connected cars can predict their needs and facilitate ordering a takeaway. From the point of suggestion through to order and pick up or delivery.

Relevant communication

Commerce brads can improve their communications through connected cars, by being able to engage with consumers during the moment of a potential purchase.

We’ve mentioned various use cases for connected cars, all of which can benefit commerce brands and ensure their communications are on point.

For instance, instead of sending out blanket in-store promotions via email marketing or SMS. Brands can promote their bricks and mortar stores that are closest to the regular routes taken by a driver.

This will be particularly useful for stores that sell necessities that can be picked up en-route, such as groceries or pharmacies.

Want to know more about how you can improve the commerce experience?

Connected cars are just one of the latest commerce trends that we are keeping on top of.

If you want to improve your consumers’ experiences, then our all-in-one AI email and web marketing platform, alongside our industry-leading Customer Success Team, are on hand to talk you through the latest trends, tactics, and strategies.

Get in touch to find out more.