GM Adds Digital Marketplace to Its Vehicles for Onboard Purchasing

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
gm adds digital marketplace to its vehicles for onboard purchasing

General Motors has announced it is the first automaker with its very own in-car commerce platform. We aren’t the least bit surprised.

In fact, we’ve been waiting for GM to announce something like this ever since it expressed an interest in using OnStar to deliver “personalized marketing offers” a little over a year ago. Since then, the manufacturer has also indicated plans to create an app store accessible from a vehicle’s infotainment system, as well as use driver data acquisition as a possible revenue source.

While GM isn’t the only company taking this path, it’s arguably the one that’s gotten the furthest. Our takeaway is that the services being rendered and developed are extremely clever ways for an automaker to rake in money, but will not be universally popular. This early example of GM’s changing business model ought to make the company a bundle while aggravating a certain percentage of consumers.

The company calls the free service “marketplace.” It recommends an array of local dining, lodging, and fueling locations you may want to use via your center console. Customers can use the system to access the items they want to purchase, order them through the app, and then (in some instances) pay from inside the car.

However, the only recommendations drivers will receive are affiliate brands that made a deal with GM to be included in the service. So, if you want gas, odds are good the system will point you toward a Shell or ExxonMobil station. If you want dinner, it’ll probably suggest Applebee’s or TGI Friday’s. You get the picture.

General Motors says the limited number of outlets should grow in the near future, claiming it has asked interested merchants to make contact if they’d like to be included in the service. Marketplace will be added wirelessly to all 2017 and 2018 model-year vehicles equipped with GM’s MyLink infotainment system. Owners are required to agree to the update, which the automaker began issuing last week. While it requires access to the car’s built-in wireless network, GM says it does not necessitate a paid data plan.

You’re probably wondering why you should care, given that most of these services are already available on your smartphone. GM has an answer for that.

“The average American spends 46 minutes per day on the road driving. Leveraging connectivity and our unique data capabilities, we have an opportunity to make every trip more productive and give our customers time back,” explained Santiago Chamorro, vice president for GM’s global connected customer experience. “Marketplace is the first of a suite of new personalization features that we will roll out over the next 12 to 18 months to nearly four million U.S. drivers.”

“For most retailers and consumer brands the daily commute is the only time not accessible in a consumers’ day,” he continued. “Marketplace gives merchants the ability to more safely engage with drivers and passengers in a meaningful way that provides true value for our customers.”

Marketplace is also said to be developed specifically for use while driving and minimizes physical interactions with the app. Not having used it, we cannot attest to it being safer or more convenient than stopping to whip out a phone. But, assuming it is, that would be a handy little service for commuters with tight schedules.

Using the machine-learning tech GM developed with help from IBM in 2016, marketplace uses real-time interaction data (driver location, time of day, and the customer’s digital information) to provide “highly personalized experiences.” That’s code for targeted in-car advertising and, if you’re alright with that, then you’ll probably be sweet on the service.

However, if the idea of your automobile tracking your purchasing behaviors and whereabouts turns you off, you should probably decline the update while you have the chance.

[Image: General Motors]

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2 of 34 comments
  • Garrett Garrett on Dec 05, 2017

    This actually makes me want to go to my local GM dealer... ...and explain to them why they will not be getting any of my business.

  • Skeeter44 Skeeter44 on Dec 09, 2017

    This is nothing but Internet lite, doomed to fail. They are bringing out a new/better DVD player - why ? How can a large, seemingly competent, company as GM make such a mistake in today's hyper connected environment - especially amongst the young. Christ guys get your OnStar house together - license Yelp or Trip Advisor or even include Panera, Chipoltle or other obviously popular places rather than TGIF.

  • Wheatridger Correct me if I'm wrong, but has the widescreen digital dash usurped the space formerly occupied in every other car by an HVAC vent? I see one prominent vent well right of center, where there should be two. I rely on twin driver's side vents to warm my hands on cold mornings, and I wouldn't give that up for more screen area.
  • Dawn Maple They haven't even fixed the airbag issues and recalls completely, so why waste more time and money on another "safety feature" that removes choices from the driver? We would be safer getting in a car driven by Helen Keller. Oh wait with driver assist, all she has to do is find her car and turn it on.
  • Lorenzo I'm out. I'd never find it in the dark.
  • VoGhost Minivans don't sell well, and the market has been declining. And while the entire 'range anxiety' myth is mostly a big oil propaganda designed to scare the weak minded, minivans are often how families travel to grandma's house, so that will be a concern, unless VW can gain access to the Supercharger network. I could see 50K units at peak, declining to 25K/year after a couple of years, unless VW can price competitively with Tesla.
  • VoGhost Glad you're healthy, Tim