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Are we ready to have our online shopping delivered to connected cars?

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Online shopping is being delivered straight to connected cars, with a pilot of the service unveiled by Volvo Cars.

One hundred shoppers have piloted the car company’s Roam Delivery service, unveiled at this week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Of them, 86% said the service, which allows the owners of cars equipped with digital key-technology to authorise a delivery driver to unlock their car and then lock it again once the delivery is stowed, had saved them time. Meanwhile, 92% found it more convenient to have a delivery made to their car.

The service works via telematics app Volvo On Call, which also enables car owners to check their petrol levels and adjust heating from a distance. It means that they can choose their car as a delivery option when ordering goods online. When the delivery company wants to drop something off or pick something up, the owner is informed via a smartphone or tablet.

Having accepted the delivery, he or she then hands out a digital key and can track when the car is opened and then locked again. Once the pick-up or drop-off is completed, the digital key ceases to exist.

“By turning the car into a pickup and drop-off zone through using digital keys we solved a lot of problems since it’s now possible to deliver the goods to persons and not to places,” said said Klas Bendrik, group CIO at Volvo Car Group. “The test customers also indicated that the service clearly saved time. And the same thing is valid for delivery companies as well, because failed first-time deliveries cost the industry an estimated €1billion in re-delivering costs. We are now further investigating the technology of digital keys and new consumer benefits linked to it.”

Our view: The technology is here, but are online shoppers ready to have their groceries, or indeed other online shopping, delivered to their car? Volvo points to difficulties that shoppers have with delivery, citing figures that suggest 60% of people had delivery problems last year, while failed first-time deliveries cost the industry $1bn in redelivery costs. But is delivery to a car the answer? Shoppers will need trust that this will work before they give it a go. It’s not only trust in the delivery driver and company that’s required. It’s also trust that having a boot full of shopping won’t make them a target. We’ll be watching with interest to see if consumer trust extends quite that far just yet, or if this is simply a bit of a gimmick that promises a lift for the car, if not the online delivery service.

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