The Innovation team at Swedish automobile manufacturer Volvo has developed a mobile app called ‘Roam Delivery’, which enables packages to be delivered directly into your car. There are still some question marks over access to the service.

Using Your Car as a Delivery Point

Volvo has already pioneered an app that remotely controls the locking of your car doors and switching on your car heating, and is now driving forward with its innovation efforts around the connected car and mobile technology. This time the Swedish carmaker is looking to converge a number of services on the vehicle. The Innovation team has developed a roaming delivery system designed to save busy customers time. Johan Maresch, Head of Strategic Innovation at Volvo, was in Paris on 26 June for the Fevad [a federation bringing together all players in the e-commerce and distance selling sector] congress, where he presented the 'Roam Delivery' experience. Designed for customers who are ardent e-commerce fans and for whom home delivery or picking up at a faraway point of sale is a major inconvenience, the mobile app provides a way to deliver packages directly to the boot of your car.

Deliver to your car at any location using integrated GPS

Rather than giving a fixed address when arranging delivery of purchased goods, Volvo customers will have the option of subscribing to the Roam Delivery service, which uses an integrated GPS system – i.e. delivery based on the car identifier rather than personal ID.  The customer will then be informed of the delivery time by text message. Customers using the service will have to agree to certain conditions, for example real-time tracking of their vehicle. In addition they will need to leave their car parked where the package delivery personnel can access it easily – avoiding closed private car parks, for example – and must of course agree to their boot being opened remotely so that packages can be left in it without the need to enter the passenger compartment. When arranging delivery, the car owner will transmit a one-time-use digital key that will enable the car boot to be opened. Answering potential concern about the security of data received by the app, Johan Maresch assures customers that the practical convenience of this tool will soon outweigh and overcome any reluctance to use it.

Business model still to be decided

In order to win people’s trust in the security of the system, Johan Maresch has thought about equipping delivery staff with a small embedded camera to take photos over a short period of time. This system would serve to exonerate the delivery person in the event that s/he were accused of theft. Most of the basic issues have been dealt with already, but others still remain to be decided, such as the business model to use. Will customers be able to access the service through a paid-for subscription, or should this system be integrated into the car as standard equipment, which then only needs to be activated. Another question is whether Volvo chooses to make this novel service available to its competitors, licensing the app and enabling them to develop their own services, etc. So far the system has been tested for food purchases, and could soon be extended to other goods bought online, such as clothing or home decoration products. The app is already operational but Volvo still needs to formalise partnerships with e-commerce sites.

By Lucie Frontière