“Commuter commerce” may be a term you have never heard before, but if predictions are correct, it could be the next big growth area in digital shopping. Basically, commuter commerce means the purchasing of goods and services while one is commuting to and from work. Certainly this does not (and should not) take place while one is driving a motor vehicle, but in Canada 21 percent of the nation’s workforce regularly (minimum three times per week) commutes via transit (rail, bus, light rail, streetcar). Much of that time modern commuters are busy staring at their smart phones, laptops, and tablets instead of newspapers and magazines of their predecessors.
Currently, 14 percent of Canadian transit users shop during their work commute and a whopping 76 percent would consider doing so if service reliability and account safety concerns are adequately addressed. To promote this trend and demonstrate the ease and safety of such commerce, PayPal is sponsoring a streetcar in Toronto over the 2015 holiday season that advertises those vendors who offer its secure digital payment services (see photo above). Full disclosure – this blog post author owns some shares of PayPal in his investment portfolio.
To date, studies shows the most commonly purchased items via commuter commerce have been:
- Tickets = 62%
- Clothing and shoes = 62%
- Gifts = 55%
- Food and groceries = 53%
- Games and tech items = 50%
- Furniture/home decor = 37%
For transit systems, commuter commerce presents a potentially exciting new revenue stream from increased advertising opportunities and increased ridership by those whose busy schedules may limit time for shopping trips to brick and mortar stores. In times of lean budgets, this may provide a much-needed infusion of cash. As applications and options increase, so should the sources of revenue. It would not be at all surprising to see digital payment system providers eventually signing exclusive franchise agreements with transit systems across the country.
In the not too distant future, one can also see this trend spreading beyond transit to passengers utilizing driverless car technology once they hit the road. In this area, those payment platforms from tech firms who have also built and sold the vehicles (i.e. Apple and Google) may have an initial advantage, but each of the big players, both in digital payments and automobiles, will certainly become involved.