How your dealership can get an App

Time 12 years ago

AppCAR DEALER has recently launched an App for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Downloadable from the iTunes store now for 59p, the App digests content from our website in a user-friendly way for car dealers on the go.

To celebrate its launch we chatted to the team behind the App to find out how car dealers should be utilising this new technology too. App Creatives chief Russell Berry was the driving force behind our App and here he talks to Car Dealer about how it was built and what the firm can do for you.

You’ve just finished making the Car Dealer App – are you pleased with it? Yes, we’re absolutely delighted with the CDM iPhone App. The aims and objectives were very specific. Provide an iPhone App that can deliver CDM unique content in real-time, while expanding CDM user base by reaching out to the iPhone community.

By meeting the aims and objectives we are pleased to say CDM have been rewarded by fantastic download figures and positive reviews.

What obstacles did you have to overcome to make it? None, to be honest. Luckily we’ve got a great team here so the entire process was a seamless one. The main hurdle with any App development that contains regularly updated information is the source of the data. With CDM we simply used their xml feeds. Once the feeds were in place we were free to go and do what we do best, create the App and get it live on the Apple Store. Because we had a full understanding of the brief at the outset CDM needed very little involvement.

What makes a good App for the car industry? Updated relevant information is king. It’s also important that the App does what the user expects. So, a car news App should primarily deliver car news and a carsearch App should allow you to locate cars quickly. Just like a website the App should reflect the company and the services it offers. Making use of the iPhone’s unique features will help the user engage with the service or product in a unique way. Finally, an App needs to be able to deliver content quickly and in a user-friendly manner.

How important will they be to the car industry and dealers? Hugely. More than two million iPhones have been sold in the UK in the past three years. This figure is set to grow to seven million in the next two years. Since the iPhone was launched more than two billion Apps have been downloaded worldwide. This is not market penetration; it’s more like market domination!

It is vital that the entire car industry embraces mobile Apps. In 2009, Mobile Internet Report (MIR) proclaimed that within five years more users will likely connect to the internet via mobile devices than desktop PCs. The move away from accessing content via PC’s and laptops is already evident. Auto Trader recently stated that in January 45 per cent of visitors used their phone to access further information about a car on a dealer forecourt. The fact is, people want to access information when and where they want it. Sitting at a desk is old news.

How can car dealers use Apps to generate business? What are other dealers using them for? First and foremost dealers can simply replicate the core services of their existing website. If your website generates revenue, an App will do exactly the same. A car dealer can immediately increase stock exposure by simply allowing people to access their cars via their App.

Not only can users access all the images related to a particular vehicle, they can also view any videos, get directions and call the dealer within seconds with the simple click of a button. As this new market evolves we are getting more and more dealers asking us to create Apps with additional services such as booking a service and submitting a car part exchange valuation. It’s these additional features that will all help increase a dealer’s revenue.

How do you see the car industry evolving for the mobile community? Like any major industry the car industry needs to sit up and take the mobile world seriously or risk getting left behind. It’s vital that all companies from car repair specialists to franchised dealers include a mobile plan in their overall marketing strategy.

Those that jump on board will reap the rewards. Rolls-Royce have been quick off the mark with their fantastic Ghost App. It allows users to interact with the car and configure their ideal Ghost specification. This approach engages Rolls-Royce with a new type of customer while creating a fantastic PR opportunity. We also envisage companies utilising innovative in-App advertising where they will encourage users to interact with their products in an augmented virtual reality.

Paid for or free? The decision of whether to charge for an App depends on its content. CDM App currently sits at 59p to download. This is a fair price as it delivers unique content which users will not find anywhere else. As a hard and fast rule you should ask yourself if you would be prepared to pay for the App yourself and whether the biggest revenue generation is in the selling of the App or the selling of your core product or service.

appcreativesimages-009Is making Apps just for Apple products a good idea? We can deliver mobile Apps for all the leading handsets, such as Google Andriod, Blackberry and Nokia. The reason everyone is so focused on Apple is because they are the leaders, and by some distance. They are streets ahead in terms of Apps available and download volumes and this is without mentioning the iPad which is due for release in the UK this month.

The main advantage of mobile Apps against mobile websites is usability. Apps are built specifically for the phone and allow users to interact with the content using the features of the phone itself. A mobile website can tell users where a car is but a mobile App can tell the user how far away that car is in relation to where they are standing at that exact moment.

We always recommend doing the iPhone App first and then creating Apps for the other handsets. The consumer’s mindset is changing. Just like websites everyone expects you to have one and use Google to find it. Apple’s App Store carries the same principle. Users expect you to have an App and be able to find it in the App Store.

What got you into making Apps? My co-founder Rodney Joseph and I are both Apple mad. We brought the first iPhone as soon as it was released and have never looked back. We love the whole concept of delivering information in a way that’s quick, sleek, innovative and always with you. Our very first App was for our sister company DesperateSeller.co.uk which went live in the App store way back in July 2009.

We’re proud to say that it was the first UK car classified App, way before more established brands such as Auto Trader and Motors joined the scene. As a consequence our download figures were phenomenal. Within days we created our company AppCreatives.co.uk which primarily allows anyone from individuals to multinationals to have an iPhone App.

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What other Apps have you made? We have made a variety of Apps to date. Our portfolio is now expanding beyond the car industry and into other industries such as holidays, digital photography, games, art houses and even shopping centres. It’s now the must-have marketing platform.

Have you got a favourite App (apart from the Car Dealer one of course!)? Of course, the CDM is our favourite! We have created some great motoring-related Apps so far such as Fish4cars, HonestJohn, Carenthusiast, and Bristol Street Motors and there are even more exciting ones coming in the near future. However, from a personal point of view, if I had to chose one then it would have to be the Dialcaddy golfing App. Simply because I’ll use absolutely anything to up my golf game and this seems to be doing the trick nicely! [CD]

The Car Dealer Magazine App is available to download now for 59p from the iTunes store

James Baggott's avatar

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

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