GM Creates New Marketing Channel with In-Vehicle eCommerce

Chevy Suburban Console

At the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (Jan. 6 – 9), marketing professionals took note when General Motors announced “AtYourService”, an eCommerce addition to its OnStar in-vehicle services. GM has rolled out this new offering in partnership with retailers such as Dunkin’ Donuts and Priceline.com, as well as digital coupon providers, and Audiobooks.com. These services will be available for more than 30 models of automobile which GM will equip with built-in 4G LTE connectivity in 2015. Now that high-bandwidth cellular networks have more coverage, this feature makes sense.

AtYourService can alert OnStar subscribers of product/service deals near destinations, offer audiobook content, or connect with an OnStar advisor who will book a hotel room as you're driving to your destination. GM believes that this service, combined with its existing OnStar emergency service, stolen vehicle tracking, and other safety features, makes a compelling package that will appeal to a broader customer base.

“Subscribers can give advisors the general location where they would like to stay and advisors can select from Priceline’s participating hotels in that area. After booking a hotel, customers receive an email confirmation of their reservation. The service provides a simple way to find on-the-go accommodations while drivers keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. In a pilot program, nine out of 10 subscribers said they would book their last-minute hotel needs through OnStar again.”

Subscribers will have to get a 4G LTE data plan, but in our increasingly connected world, many will consider this cost worthwhile in order to have Wi-Fi in their car.

At first glance AtYourService seems counter-intuitive to safe driving. Texting and cellphone use while driving, even hands-free calling, are proven distractions. If you’re staring at the dashboard screen interface, can you really drive safely? However, given GM’s announcement last year about plans for a self-driving Cadillac, perhaps the car manufacturer is anticipating a convergence of technologies to allow drivers safe surfing while traveling.

In the meantime, marketing professionals with SEO marketing programs that target the local mobile consumer should keep an eye on how GM’s service unfolds. It remains to be seen whether the in-vehicle mobile consumer is a segment that can be addressed with existing local/mobile SEO or with more focused tactics.