Branded3 first began working with Inchcape back in late 2012 / early 2013. During this period, we were investigating what the opportunity was for Inchcape to lead the digital space in terms of buying cars online and car dealerships not just in the UK, but as a global solution. The project had a code-name “Incredible Websites” that supported just what we were looking for, something that was more than just listing cars for purchase, but actually creating a real online experience.
During this initial process we decided to focus our efforts on understanding the Inchcape customer and the buying journey of cars online, being part of the St Ives Group proved to be a real boost in this area as we had access to a research piece produced by sister agency Incite – “Automotive pathways to Purchase”. Through this research and our own, it was clear that buying a car either new or used online was a controlled process and one that involves a number of phases and points of research before reaching the point of conversion.
To put some of our initial ideas to the test, we decided to run a conversion rate optimisation pilot project on Inchcape BMW (www.cooperbmw.co.uk). This process looked at the core pages during the conversion journey of homepage, car listing page and car view page. You can read more on our BMW CRO project in our case study section. What was evident form our pilot project was that ecommerce best practices still play a huge part in the journey and directly impact the bottom line on conversion rates.
To create a new pilot platform for the Inchcape UK brands that would support an incredible experience and ultimately drive conversions and engagement levels with customers.
A number of third-party agencies were involved in the initial discovery process, all providing different angles and approaches that would deliver a range of benefits to the project. During this phase, a number of workshops were carried out to build an understanding of the project and its multi-brand requirements.
Each partner offered different platforms and the final decision was between Drupal and Sitecore. Drupal, although a great platform would require too much bespoke development to provide the functionality that had been outlined in the requirements. We recommended Sitecore as the ideal platform to develop the solution due to its enterprise ready setup and its ability to offer analytics, personalisation, testing and extranet functionality.
Branded3 won the design and development of nine Inchcape brand sites in late 2013 and began the process of planning with the first brand Toyota.
We began the Incredible Websites project by reviewing where the discovery process had taken us, revisiting the functional specification document and ensuring it is sound and still fit for purpose. Part of this process helped refine functionality to a focused audience of UK rather than global.
With the brand details outlined and functional specification in-hand, our design and UX team worked with Inchcape to identify the core user journeys on site, these included vehicle research journeys, purchasing, service booking, parts, comparisons, general browsing.
One of the interesting insights that came out of these sessions was to look at the journey for a car purchase without the requirement to explicitly take the customer down a “new” or “used” approach, this was just a factor in the final decision process, but not the leading factor which tended to be price.
Outputs from the initial UX sessions included creation of 27 detailed wireframes to outline the position and hierarchy of functionality and call to actions within the pages. On a much smaller scale, we managed to agree on a sitemap after only three revisions, mapping to the key journeys and our proposed content plan to give the site the authority it requires to become incredible.
Our design process went into much more detail by producing over 80 layered PSD designs across desktop, mobile and tablet devices. The designs were all created with the brand guidelines in mind but with a fresh perspective on the site and a more persuasive approach to progression and making the site easy to navigate. The designs helped visualise the de-cluttered approach and highly visual way of representing the site without being overly product-focused and ‘salesy’.
A major piece of functionality that was produced during this phase included the “Find your car” tool, a tool that allows users to detail their requirements in terms of priorities and budget and to be presented with suitable models from the Toyota range. The second piece of functionality was the car comparator tool, this uses industry standard data from CAP to be used and compared across a number of key metrics such as price, acceleration, MPG and more. This tool allows Inchcape to be completely transparent by comparing cars across all manufacturer brands and support the vehicle education phases with information without needing to leave the site.
We designed each of the pages with our shelf and grid concepts which means that each page has a natural flow and visual style that supports responsive interfaces.
The templates were built in the form of components and shelves which puts the power of content management and page layout directly in the hands of the content administrators. Each page can have an infinite combination of two column / three column and many other combinations so that CSS knowledge isn’t required and the site can maintain its responsive interface. One of the more exciting features of the shelf and component model is that within Sitecore each of these can subsequently be enabled for multivariate testing and personalisation.
The site features a number of interesting third party integrations including the following:
- Manheim – Service booking
live online service booking is possible via this integration along with booking available timeslots and services at the retail centres.
- Manheim – LiveChat
a service to provide direct chat support for customers to the retail centres.
allows us to produce a dynamic phone number that appears on relevant location-based pages. These can then be tracked and reported against giving insight into the source and destination of the visit.
a wider business review mechanic that allows the platform to supply relevant information for customer feedback to be given about their experience with Inchcape and its retail centres.
allows us to get customer feedback about their experience directly with the website itself and functionality contained within.
Our platform development on Sitecore has been one of scale and robustness, knowing we have another eight brands to power consideration was given at every point to ensure code and functionality was re-usable. A service orientated approach was created to allow data to pass from Inchcape internal solutions and third-party systems into the platform.
A custom import process was developed for the vehicle stock and data from Inchcape so that we could build upon our concept of providing an ecommerce-like solution and thinking of the cars in a product-based manner. This catalogue import process creates associated Sitecore items for each of the vehicles which can then be used in other areas of functionality such as search, specification and finance calculations.
Live integrations have been implemented to provide finance quotes on vehicles based on entered customer information along with the ability to enter your current vehicle registration number and get an indicative part exchange valuation.
The development process has included our latest techniques and use of specialist tools to provide a controlled but straight forward build and deploy environment. More details on this process can be read on our blog.
As a Sitecore Partner, we’ve found the platform to be perfect for this solution, its scale and robustness with rich feature set has given Inchcape the foundation for an incredible experience.
Hosting has been provided by the Microsoft Azure platform which has allowed us to utilise some of Sitecore’s latest features for scale and deployment, this includes burst functionality that can deploy additional Sitecore delivery servers for a set period of time when there are high volumes of traffic expected such as a campaign.