Mobile e-commerce for carwash customers

Apps of opportunity and convenience

Groundbreaking trends in carwash mobile e-commerce.

A huge part of building a successful carwash brand is customer service. And at the heart of exceptional customer service is convenience. Carwash technology is constantly evolving to deliver greater customer convenience. The newest frontier in this quest is mobile e-commerce. Once an afterthought or a nice add on, having a mobile e-commerce presence is now a must for any carwash organization hoping to build customer loyalty and satisfaction.

New technology advancements are making mobile e-commerce more accessible and powerful than ever before. Let’s take a look at some of the latest trends.

New membership options for unattended washes

There is no doubt that unlimited carwash plans transformed the carwash industry. In these plans, customers pay a monthly fee to wash as often as they want. Typically priced at just two times the cost of a single wash, these plans offer immense value to customers while providing operators with recurring revenue they can count on when the weather is not in their favor.

Unfortunately, unattended in-bay automatic washes have largely been left out of this revolution. Not so long ago, unlimited wash plans were largely facilitated by RFID technology used to recognize member vehicles and automatically open the gate to allow vehicles through.

This technology requires that a carwash attendant place an RFID tag on the vehicle’s windshield. This is not feasible for unattended washes, which are commonly found at service stations and c-stores or may be stand-alone locations. Therefore, these businesses struggled to implement subscription plans and missed out on their recurring revenue. 

New technology is providing options that are allowing unattended washes to consider unlimited wash programs. One popular option is utilizing a mobile app. Carwash mobile apps allow customers to make purchases, including unlimited wash plans, directly from the mobile app. Then, when customers
arrive at the wash, they can simply scan a QR code at the pay station to redeem their washes. And as the connected car becomes more mainstream, customers will be able to make carwash purchases right from their car dashboard.

Of course, the benefits of this go beyond simply unattended washes. Any wash that wants to reduce customer touchpoints and increase customer convenience may want to consider how a mobile app can benefit their business.

Beyond the app store

The latest point-of-sale (POS) technology is taking mobile e-commerce a step further. Consider progressive web apps (PWAs), which combine the best of web and mobile apps. Think of a PWA as a website built using web technologies but that acts and feels like an app. 

To access a PWA, customers don’t have to go through an app store to download an app. They simply go to your website and add it to their phone’s home page, allowing them to access it like a traditional mobile app.

PWAs provide numerous benefits, including: 

Easy customer sign-ups through social media links, on-site signage with QR codes or a text message link.
A uniform customer experience across platforms (omnichannel experience).
Making your app discoverable through popular online search engines.
Allowing you to only maintain content for just one platform.

New advances in carwash PWAs are even allowing for a “pay-as-you-go” feature that lets customers store their credit cards and select a default wash preference, making the payment process invisible. The POS will then use a vehicle ID to complete the transaction when they arrive at the wash and store receipts in the app. This is a great option for loyal retail customers who want the convenience of the membership experience but not the commitment of a recurring charge.

Omnichannel experience

As the aforementioned examples illustrate, technology has opened up new ways for customers to interact with carwashes. In fact, 78% of consumers in Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer report said they have used multiple channels to start and complete a transaction.1 Therefore, the first step in providing a positive customer experience is ensuring your wash employs the shopping methods with which your customers are most comfortable.

But, simply providing desired options isn’t enough to create the best experience. Your goal is to create a positive omnichannel experience. What separates a multi-channel experience from an omnichannel experience is how the channels are connected. As stated in a blog post on Hubspot written by Clint Fontanella, “… during an omnichannel experience, there are not only multiple channels, but the channels are connected so you can move between them seamlessly.”2

Think about Amazon, where you can start a purchase on one device and finish it on another. Or Spotify where after listening on your cell phone, you can pick up right where you left off on your desktop.

As stated, a web application can help deliver a uniform experience across devices. But even if you don’t utilize a web application, you want to make sure your process is integrated
across all channels — from your desktop e-commerce site to your mobile app to your pay station. Not only should each device know what a customer did on another channel, but they should also provide similar experiences. Customers should be able to manage their unlimited wash plan or update payment methods on the channel they choose and also have the same experience.

Customer convenience equals carwash success. To be the wash of choice for drivers in your area, you have to provide the most friction-free experience. The latest trends in e-commerce can help you do just that.




For over a third of a century, DRB® supported — and often drove — an era of unprecedented growth in the carwash industry with point-of-sale and wash optimization software, hardware and services. DRB is the industry’s trusted technology partner, utilized by more top 50 conveyorized carwash chains than all other technology providers combined. The DRB team channels its expertise and experience to help carwash operators squeeze every ounce of profitability out of their investments. 

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