New motoring app sees spike in activity during challenging times

By Maurice Garvey

THE economy is in a temporary state of paralysis during Covid-19, but a new motoring app is seeing a spike in activity as consumers scout out deals from their home.

Sweep allows users to browse through tens of thousands of cars in Ireland and has over 500 dealers on board.

Sweep compressor

Shane Ennis, Stephen Farrell and Conor O’Boyle

It was launched last December by Knocklyon native Stephen Farrell, Shane Ennis and Conor O’Boyle.

Ennis acknowledged challenging times for society and business deemed non-essential services such as automotive dealerships.

“We’ve noticed a significant increase in mobile app downloads and usage over the past three weeks as consumers find more time at home to research their next car,” said Ennis, who is also a co-founder of audio news streaming platform News Over Radio with Tallaght man Gareth Hickey.

“Many (dealerships) are owner operated and face an uncertain future due to restrictions on consumer movement and walk-in business.

“Sweep, a digital showroom for dealers, allows consumers to continue to browse cars, chat to dealers with Sweep Chat, ask questions about the vehicle’s history, request a personalised video tour of the car, enquire about vehicle delivery options and unaccompanied test drives, and arrange an appointment to view the vehicle as soon as it is permissible and safe to do so.”

Ennis says increased activity on the app is “helping to keep the market open” and will assist a much quicker recovery when restrictions are lifted.

Features on the app mean research and deal making can be done now, and the final transaction and collection completed later.

Since it’s launch, Ennis says “tens of thousands of Irish users” have downloaded Sweep and swiped almost two million times.

“The number one reason our users love Sweep and keep coming back over other platforms is the user experience. Being able to shortlist vehicles you like and hide the ones you don’t so you’re not seeing them over and over again has helped us to gain a strong following already.

“With this type of mobile focus it means we can embrace some of the cutting edge trends in technology right now like vehicle recommendations through machine learning, personalised push notifications, and mobile apps that are enjoyable to use while being efficient with peoples time.”

Shane and Conor met Stephen, a motor industry professional, in the summer of last year, to develop the platform.

“The vision of an app or a company that you take to market can look very different to the version originally conceptualised,” said Ennis.

“The biggest learnings for us were around the technical intricacies of how we get 500 plus dealerships on the app and keep their stock up to date at all times. Similarly, with user experience, you’ve got to listen to your users and understand their desires.”

The business is based on three revenue streams - dealership subscriptions, private listings and advertising. Dealerships pay a monthly subscription which depends on how many vehicles they typically have in stock.

“Currently we are waving this fee for all dealerships until June 1, 2020, to help them through the Covid-19 epidemic,” said Ennis.

Private listings allow private users to list their own vehicle for sale on the app for €9 and advertising comes in the form of a card stack add where every 10 vehicles an advert will be displayed.

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