Startup CarLister joins rush to digital car-buying

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The hotly contested market for digital car-buying and selling platforms is getting another entrant.

DreamWare Inc., a Web development company, is launching a car-buying and listing Web application today that allows users to shop and list a used vehicle for sale on any digital platform.

DreamWare is a Florida-based Web development company that focuses on creating e-commerce Web applications. It is also the parent company of World Lister, a Web app that generates eBay listings.

The application, at CarLister.co, is compatible on smartphone, tablet or desktop browsers, the company said today.

The base profile, which allows users to upload video, lets them sell from their device and includes an accident history report, costs a flat rate of $14.44. The first 8,888 listings will be free for both individual sellers and dealers.

CarLister’s algorithm automatically generates a paragraph describing the vehicle. The user simply enters the vehicle’s VIN and then answers three questions tailored to the vehicle before the application creates a suggested listing.

The app’s debut comes after Gannett bought the remaining 73 percent stake it does not own in Classified Ventures, the entity that owns Cars.com, for $1.8 billion to focus on its digital business.

CarLister wants to compete with the likes of Cars.com, AutoTrader and TrueCar.

Bryan Harmon, CarLister’s CEO, said those competitors are married to an outdated model of selling on the Web, and the company wants to bring car buying and selling into the 21st century.

“Mobile, mobile, mobile … Cars.com was just bought out for $2.5 billion, and they don’t even have a mobile interface. I think that was a stupid investment, and I’m not afraid to say that,” Harmon said. CarLister is designed “to give the user a new experience for 2014, not 1990.”

Harmon’s bullish outlook aside, CarLister will be up against steep competition. TrueCar’s application, which launched earlier this summer, allows shoppers to display their used cars to dealers, who then use the app to bid on listed vehicles.

AutoNation has an app set to be released in December that will allow users to find, price and even make a deposit on vehicles in the retailer’s inventory.

Harmon said CarLister will set itself apart from big-name competitors by being all-inclusive and making the process of digitally selling a car quick and painless.

“No one wants to [list] a car -- it’s a book report,” he said. “Now it’s not a chore anymore. Just click a couple buttons, and poof. It’s not work.”

Users logging into CarLister from an Apple device can also list a FaceTime number to communicate with potential buyers in real time.

Dealers can also create a dealer account on CarLister. Harmon said the price for dealer accounts has not been finalized yet, but said it should be around $200 per month. The dealership profile would include unlimited car listings and accident reports.

Harmon said the FaceTime feature would be most beneficial to dealers, allowing them to “bring customers right into the dealership, while they’re still at home.”

Dealers can log in to CarLister every morning, and a green light on their profile will signal that representatives are available to FaceTime or instant message with customers.

You can reach Nora Naughton at nnaughton@crain.com.


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