Three South African entrepreneurs have developed a smartphone app that helps customers find a suitable car for their needs and connects them to accredited dealers. Available on Apple iStore and the Google PlayStore, Carter aims to appeal to first time new car buyers.
A shortlist of suitable cars can be built by swiping right (i.e. yes, I like it) or swiping left (i.e. not interested) – similar to the well-known Tinder app. The system learns from the user’s actions which then gets them closer to the cars they should be considering. Carter’s uniqueness comes from its app functionality, learning algorithm and the smart discovery process.
“We are looking to create something special with Carter,” says co-founder Vikash Govindjee. “What we’re doing hasn’t been done anywhere else in the world. Our platform helps customers find their perfect new car and complete the deal via their mobile phone. It’s a new-car shopping mall in the palm of your hand.”
Tom Gardner, co-founder, adds that their platform is vastly different to existing options: “There isn’t an Edgars for new cars. There isn’t anywhere you can browse hatchbacks or compact SUVs side by side. The problem with this is that there may be the perfect compact SUV out there for you, you just don’t know about it. By creating a virtual showroom that allows people to browse by usage requirements, we have created a virtual Edgars for cars.”
According to Carter’s Amit Bholla, very few platforms have pulled off the fun element for consumers. “The majority of other platforms ask you which make and model car you want. They assume you know what you want or need. Carter’s mission is to empower the consumer. We have built a fun and friendly platform to help you find the right car and then conveniently source great deals from reputable dealers.”
“Take the swipe left or right functionality. By backing it with a smart learning algorithm, we can learn what consumers like or dislike,” notes Bholla.
When quizzed on their UI choices, the response was a simple one: customer feedback. User testing and actual customer interactions have been pivotal in shaping an intuitive user interface and experience.
“The big ‘ah-ha’ moments came from asking users how they would design something. Once they understood what we were trying to achieve with a particular step, we would ask them to design the perfect interface for them. We received some silly ideas, but we gained valuable ideas too,” concludes Gardner.
While a handful of international companies have started tackling the same questions, this group of South Africans have put a fun and creative spin on solving the new car-buying headache. Taking their joint experience as management consultants at McKinsey & Company, as well as their work in growing a local direct life insurance provider. Their vision: Order your new car at 10pm in the comfort of your own home and get delivery at 10am the next morning. When it does, Carter wants to be at the forefront of that movement.