Are you sick and tired of all the in-car parcel delivery announcements?
Let’s face it: we’re heading down the same track as electric vehicle charging stations. No standards, differing systems (both carriers and vehicles), and spotty network coverage.
Which is a shame, because when done right, in-car delivery offers many advantages for first-time delivery and good customer experience.
So, let’s have a look at the latest in-car delivery announcement, which comes to us from Mercedes-Benz in Germany.
It starts with a silly name
chark is the name of the in-car delivery service developed as a start-up project by Lab1886, Daimler AG's innovation incubator.
The service, which has nothing to do with charcoal, has been tested in Stuttgart and is now being expanded to Berlin.
Drivers of Mercedes-Benz passenger cars and the V-Class of model year 2015 and newer can use the Mercedes me connect service to have parcels or purchases delivered directly to their parked vehicle. According to Daimler, orders can be placed with any online shop worldwide.
The aim is also to be able to handle grocery purchases and e-commerce returns, not to mention other services such as laundry and vehicle washing. (Although to be honest, you don’t need access to the vehicle to wash it. Cleaning the interior is a different matter.) Mercedes-Benz is working with last mile delivery company Liefery, which is majority held by delivery giant Otto.
How chark works
No surprises here. Delivery drivers are given a digital vehicle key for the parked car. The vehicle can only be unlocked and locked once, and cannot be moved.
Online purchases are ordered and paid for directly in the respective online shop as usual.
The user can decide the time window and parking location in which the service provider is permitted to open the vehicle. As soon as the delivery service is within 500 metres of the indicated parking location, it locates the vehicle by GPS and unlocks it.
To enable delivery, the vehicle must be correctly parked and freely accessible. So beware: if you aren’t parked perfectly parallel to the curb, or you’re slightly outside the marked parking spot, you won’t receive your parcel. Sorry, but those are the rules.
Here’s another interesting point: the windows and doors must be closed and locked. What if you drive a convertible? Failure to put the top up means no delivery.
The service will only work if there is a good connection with Mercedes me (or an adequate mobile radio connection).
Another precautionary measure is that there must be no valuables, animals, or persons (dead or alive, one assumes) in the vehicle. This is similar to PostNord’s in-home delivery service.
When the delivery order is completed, the user receives a delivery report including photos.
The chark service can be tested free of charge for 30 days. If anyone knows what it will cost after the trial period, please let me know!
Is Amazon going to smash the competition anyway?
Amazon isn’t mucking around with a test market or a slow roll-out. Amazon tests and then goes big. It’s done just that in the USA with in-car delivery. Its competitors need to pull their fingers out.
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