Chevrolet and Domino now offer in-car ordering services through GM's Marketplace platform.
Drivers create their “pizza profile” and use it to place takeout or delivery orders.< /p>
While useful, we're not entirely sold on the idea when we have smartphones and mobile apps.
"Chevy is the first automotive brand to offer in-vehicle pizza ordering," they cried. "Why?" I whispered back. Basically, what we're dealing with here (and "dealing with it" is pretty much all I can handle right now) is that Chevrolet is partnering with Domino to give Chevrolet owners the ability to order pizza right from their car's touchscreen. not so different from what Domino's and Ford did two years ago, teaming up to examine the impact of self-driving cars on pizza delivery.
How do I order pizza from my car?
But no phone needed
Pie In The Sky
Cars are not (and should never be) phones
How can I order pizza in my car?
This in-car pizza-on-demand is part of the Chevrolet Marketplace, a business platform that GM launched towards the end of 2017. It basically allows Chevrolet owners to buy things. Marketplace can order coffee and food (a pizza in this case), find gas stations, make dinner reservations, and more. Chevrolet says Marketplace is the industry's first in-vehicle commerce platform. The marketing guys - being who they are - are touting this as if it's the best technological innovation since the space-saving 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 to go when they get to the store or will arrive at their doorstep if they choose delivery."
Which is not so impressive as an achievement. What Chevy and Domino's offer is one-touch ordering (really a few touches) of America's favorite Italian food. Of course, this eliminates the daunting task of having to dial in and talk to another human on the phone. But you can do it with an app, you know, like the one Dominos and other national pizza chains already have.
Chevrolet's big mistake is the same one a number of automakers are making today. They keep trying to make your car do something that other devices already do, and do a lot better. When I read that quote above, after stumbling upon the “eligible” caveat, my immediate reaction was, can't we already do this on our phones? The answer is yes. Yes we can.
To place orders through Marketplace, users create a free pizza profile with Domino's, either online or through the Domino's mobile app. Photo: Chevy.
But no phone needed
Chevy explains the machinations of the system: you can save your favorite orders and view previous ones from the Domino's Pizza profile and, with a few screen taps, place those orders again. Peasy easy. And here's where Chevy unwittingly reports the system failure, explaining how it works independent of any mobile device.
But why? What's the point of that? Anyone with basic abilities and some causal reasoning is already thinking, "I can do this with my phone, what's the problem?" Let me answer that: it is not. It does not matter. Chevy wants you to think it's big business the same way Domino's wants you to think it's actually pizza.
It is, like most technological innovations these days, solving a problem that never really existed in the first place, and doing it in a cumbersome and intrusive way. And some of these technological “solutions” create more problems than they actually solve. Carlos A. Alvarenga, principal investigator and assistant professor in the department of logistics, business, and public policy at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, calls it the Linn effect.
In Marketplace, customers place a saved order or recent order from their Domino's Pizza profile. Photo: Chevy.
Pie In The Sky
Namely, and I quote the press release: “To place pizza orders through Marketplace, users must first set up a Free Pizza Profile with Domino's, either online or through the Domino's mobile app. The profile will include their preferred shipping address, preferred stores and payment method information, as well as the ability to create and save their preferred order as an easy order. Through Marketplace, users will link their pizza profile to their vehicle, making ordering simple in the future.”
So let me understand. I created my pizza profile, giving personal information to a big company, like where I eat, where I buy their food, how I pay for them, etc. Next, record a bunch of my preferences for what I like to eat (bigger data to analyze, sift through, and sell); and then all of that information is tied to another company that chains it to a specific vehicle. And then when I'm driving and I'm like, "Boy, pizza looks good," I open the app, hit a few buttons, and all my pizza dreams will come true!
Or, I can perform the debilitating and exhausting task of picking up my phone and saying, “Yeah, that's Tony. I would like a medium pizza with Italian sausage and onions to go. Alright thank you." I declare, how could we survive such hardships?!
Only in America have a few companies been able to come up with such a ridiculous way to get more personal data; target and follow you, but do it as an advantage and expect people to say “Cool!” Sure, there's a percentage that will think that's cool, but honestly, I don't know how to help you at this point if you do.
Cars are not (and never should be) phones
Manufacturers need to stop trying to make their cars act like smartphones. Know why? Because smartphones already act like smartphones. This ship has sailed. The fact that Chevrolet did this raises the terrible specter that one of two things happened in a planning meeting one day in Detroit. Either someone said “Well, that would be really cool if my car could order a pizza for me”. Or the much more likely scenario: someone said, "How can we leverage our customer base to get more demographics and purchases from it, and then sell it as another revenue stream?"
Like I said, most of today's technological innovations solve problems that never really existed in the first place. And don't get me started on what counts as “pizza” in Domino's meeting rooms.
Tony Borroz has spent his whole life racing vintage cars 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.
Follow his work on Twitter: @TonyBorroz.
Photo and photo source: Chevrolet.