Chevrolet and Domino’s are now offering in-vehicle ordering via GM’s Marketplace platform.
Drivers create their “Pizza Profile” and use that to place orders for either carry-out or delivery.
While useful, we’re not entirely sold on the idea when we have smartphones and mobile apps.
“Chevy is the first automotive brand to provide embedded in-vehicle pizza-ordering,” they cried. “Why?” I muttered in response. Basically, what we’re dealing with here (and “dealing with it” is about all I can handle at the moment) is Chevrolet partnering with Domino’s to provide people who own Chevys the ability to order pizza directly from their car’s touchscreen. It’s not all that dissimilar from what Domino’s and Ford did two years ago, partnering to examine how self-driving cars impact pizza delivery.
This in-car, pizza on-demand is part of the Chevrolet Marketplace, a commercial platform GM launched near the end of 2017. It allows Chevy owners to buy stuff, essentially. Marketplace can order coffee and food (pizza in this case), find gas stations, make dinner reservations and so on. Chevy says Marketplace is the industry’s first in-vehicle commerce platform. Marketing types – being who they are – tout this like it’s the best technological innovation since the space-saver spare.
“Millions of eligible Chevrolet drivers can now order their favorite Domino’s pizza from their in-vehicle touchscreen,” reads a recent press release. “So it’s ready for carry-out when they get to the store or will arrive at their home if they choose delivery.”
Which isn’t that impressive of an achievement. What Chevy and Domino’s are offering is a one-touch (really a few touches) ordering of America’s favorite Italian food. So sure, that does take out the arduous task of actually having to dial and speak to another human on the phone. But you could do that with an app, you know, like the one Dominos and other national pizza chains already have.
Chevy’s big mistake is the same one a number of automakers are committing today. They keep trying to make your car do something that other devices already do, and do much better. When I read that quote above, after tripping over the caveat of “eligible,” my immediate reaction was can’t we already do that on our phones? The answer is yes. Yes we can.
Chevy explains the machinations of the system: you can save your favorite orders and review past ones from the Domino’s Pizza Profile and, with a few screen taps, place those orders again. Easy-peasy. And here’s where Chevy unwittingly points out the system’s failing, saying how it works independently of any mobile device.
But Why? What on earth is the point of that? Anyone with basic capabilities and some causal reasoning is already thinking: “I can do this with my phone, what’s the big deal?” Let me answer that: It’s not. This is not a big deal. Chevy wants you to think it’s a big deal the same way Domino’s wants you to think it’s actually pizza.
This is, like most tech innovations these days, solving a problem that never really existed in the first place, and doing so in a cumbersome and intrusive way. And some of these tech “solutions” create more problems than they actually solve. Carlos A. Alvarenga, Senior Research Fellow and Adjunct Professor in the Logistics, Business, and Public Policy Department at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, dubs this as the Linn Effect.
Pie In The Sky
To wit, and I quote from the press release: “To place pizza orders through Marketplace, users first need to set up a free Pizza Profile with Domino’s, either online or through their Domino’s mobile app. The profile will include their preferred delivery address, preferred stores and payment method information, as well the chance to create and save their favorite order as an Easy Order. Through Marketplace, users will link their Pizza Profile to their vehicle, allowing for simple ordering in the future.”
So, let me get this straight. I set up my Pizza Profile, handing over personal information to a large corporation, like where I eat, where I buy their food, how I pay for it etc. Then save a bunch of my preferences for what I like to eat (more big data to get crunched, sifted, and sold); and then all this information links with another corporation that chains it to a specific vehicle. And then, when I’m driving and I say to myself, “Boy a pizza sure sounds good,” I open the app, tap a few buttons, and all my pizza dreams will come true!
Or, I can go through the debilitating and draining task of picking up my phone and saying, “Yeah, this is Tony. I’d like a medium pizza with Italian sausage and onions to go. Okay, thanks.” I do declare, how did we ever survive such hardships?!
Only in America could a couple of companies come up with such a semi-laughable way to get more personal data; target and track you, yet spin it as a benefit and expect people to say, “Cool!” Of course, there is a percentage that will think it’s cool, but I honestly don’t know how to help you at this point if you do.
Cars Are Not (And Should Never Be) Phones
Manufacturers have to stop trying to make their cars act like smartphones. Know why? Because smartphones already act like smartphones. That ship has sailed. The fact Chevy did this raises the awful specter that one of two things happened in a planning meeting one day in Detroit. Either someone said “Gee, it sure would be cool if my car could order pizza for me.” Or the much more likely scenario: someone said, “How can we leverage our customer base to get more demographic and purchasing data out of them, then sell that off as another revenue stream?”
Like I said, most tech innovations today solve problems that never really existed in the first place. And don’t get me started on what counts as “pizza” in the boardrooms at Domino’s.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format. Follow his work on Twitter: @TonyBorroz.