Mobile app brings online-dating mentality to car shopping

Aaron Rosenthal’s Wyper app lets shoppers swipe through images of new and used vehicles from more than 29,000 dealership sites.

Web developer Aaron Rosenthal knows all about the wonders of online matchmaking.

The tech maven found his girlfriend through the popular dating app Tinder, which uses the data it gathers to match people up. The system, Rosenthal says, will work for you if you let it.

Now Rosenthal, 40, is applying that matchmaking mindset to the car business with a vehicle research app called Wyper — which he likes to tout as “Tinder for Cars.”

Wyper, which collects information on user likes and dislikes to tailor the experience, lets car shoppers swipe through images of new and used vehicles gathered from more than 29,000 dealership sites across the country.

It also draws on sources such as eBay Motors and other private listings to fill out a database of more than 2 million cars. The app, which allows consumers to list their own vehicles as well, only displays listings from reputable sources that are directly selling their own inventory.

Expanded market

Each search listing page shows a photo of the vehicle. Users who click through are sent to the website of the store that is selling it. People can contact the dealership anonymously through the app via text or phone.

Wyper, of Irvine, Calif., is geared toward consumers, but Rosenthal told Automotive News there’s a payoff for dealerships, too, by extending their potential market area.

The app allows for rapid-fire vehicle searches that can quickly end up with users looking at inventory from stores as far as 200 miles away — turning them into leads for dealerships that those shoppers might never have discovered otherwise.

“The value is honestly on the dealer because when we do send the visitor to the dealer, the dealer is going to have a lot higher chance of closing that deal because of how low of a funnel shopper we give them,” said Rosenthal.

Jared Merrell, owner of Maserati of Anaheim Hills (Calif.), said he believes Wyper is being introduced at an ideal time as consumers increasingly turn to their mobile devices to car-shop. Merrell has had customers come through his door after finding vehicles on Wyper.

“Wyper and its ability to utilize technology while helping the customer find the best car possible is just what this industry has needed to move forward with the growing number of mobile shoppers,” Merrell said in a statement. “We are thrilled at what Wyper has done for our customers and are eager to see what they come up with next.”

Wyper is powered by the AU.TO organic search engine that Rosenthal also developed, and it aggregates dealership reviews from sites such as Yelp and Edmunds.com to further inform users.

Predictive search

Wyper’s predictive search platform thrives on user feedback. As people swipe through vehicles and down-vote certain models, Wyper picks up on their preferences and shows them only what they came to see.

Users can prioritize searches based on models, vehicle categories, colors and engines, among other factors. Wyper adapts listings to what people like as they swipe past vehicles and remembers user profile preferences after they leave.

People can eliminate vehicles from their search results by choosing to dislike factors such as price, color, model and mileage. Wyper gathers data on a communitywide basis as well to determine in-demand vehicles on the app that should appear highest initially during searches.

Wyper is competing for mobile traffic with numerous third-party sites, such as Autotrader.com, Cars.com and CarGurus.

Rosenthal broke into the auto industry in 2002 by building websites for car dealerships — including one for his former roommate who owned a used-car store.

Rosenthal said he generates revenue through clicks and by selling leads to third-party sites such as Autobytel.

“The cars that we think would be the best value show up at the top. As users are swiping through the cars, we learn even more,” Rosenthal said.

“The machine learning is similar to the way that Pandora works. The more users use the platform, the more learning that is going on, the more predicted value and interest is being determined.” 

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