Two of the emerging trends in retail — voice-assisted purchasing and in-vehicle commerce — are getting a significant boost from Amazon.
Consumers can now use Amazon Pay and Alexa to make contactless fuel purchases at some 11,500 U.S. ExxonMobil gas stations.
Here’s how it works, according to Seattle-based Amazon:
• Pull up to the pump at an Exxon or Mobil station.
• Using the Alexa app on your phone or Alexa-enabled device in your car, say "Alexa, pay for gas."
• Follow Alexa's prompts to activate the pump.
• Fuel up and head out. Payment is handled automatically.
For Alexa to activate the correct pump and enable payment, location services are required.
Also according to Amazon, it's not possible for Alexa to stop the pump based on a certain dollar amount of fuel. However, consumers can manually stop the pump at the desired amount.
Nor can consumers use the voice-related retail and payments tool to purchase additional items at the station through Alexa — although enabling such retail purchases is among the main goals when it comes to the rising ecosystem of in-vehicle and voice-assisted commerce.
The rise of such retail also depends on consumers feeling comfortable about security. Amazon said that consumers can use what it called a “Voice Code” with this feature, requiring a four-digit confirmation code to be shared with Alexa before a purchase can be completed.
Voice-assisted retail and in-vehicle retail and payments — that is, connected cars and trucks — was a hot trend well before the coronavirus pandemic.
That said, signs have emerged that the pandemic might be slowing the growth of connected cards and trucks. According to ABI Research, “the connected vehicle industry will face a 15% decline in shipments and flat revenues in 2020. However, both embedded and aftermarket segments will see accelerated growth in 2021, and sales should return to trend in early 2022.” The Oyster Bay, New York-based research firm expects that in 2025, global connected-car shipments will hit 115 million.
This new Amazon push with Alexa could certainly add new fuel to that trend, however.