- BMW is working with Olo, the maker of online ordering software for restaurants, on a test that lets drivers order food through their car infotainment systems. U.S. drivers with BMW vehicles made since 2015 can set up their dashboard to handle food orders that they configure before driving to reduce distractions while on the road, Olo announced.
- Drivers can click on their iDrive dashboard to see a selection of favorite or recent orders from restaurants including Nekter Juice Bar and Portillo's Hot Dogs. They can pay for the order with a preloaded card and view options for navigation instructions on where to retrieve their food from a drive-thru.
- Nekter and Portillo's are the first two brands to participate in the test, although Olo works with 70,000 restaurant brands including Applebee's, Dairy Queen, Denny's and Shake Shack. Olo is collaborating with BMW Labs, the carmaker's R&D group that develops digital connected services for its cars.
BMW's test with Olo indicates the automaker has big ambitions for in-car food ordering, and could expand the technology among partner restaurants nationwide. While consumers already have the option to order food from their smartphones, it isn't an ideal channel for on-the-go consumers in cars and amid widespread bans on mobile usage while driving.
Currently, BMW's online ordering feature doesn't work with voice commands, although BMW is developing an in-house virtual assistant that can work with Siri on Apple CarPlay and with Amazon Alexa, Venture Beat reported.
BMW's test comes amid bold predictions for how connected cars will transform the restaurant and retail industries. Approximately 35 million U.S. commuters — or 35% — who used connected devices did so to order food from their vehicles to pick up from a drive-thru, while 33% ordered coffee for pickup, per a survey by Pymnts.com and Visa. Connected commuters have ordered food or coffee while in their cars an average of 65 times a year, pointing to a significant opportunity for restaurant marketers.
The study also found that the percentage of people who connected to the internet while driving rose to 73% last year from 66% in the prior year, equaling a total market of about 99 million. The most popular activities among connected drivers are finding a gas station and paying for gas. The 46.7 million commuters, or 47%, who use connected devices for gas purchases do so about 36 times a year, per Pymnts.com and Visa.