Building a Robust E-Commerce Experience for an Automotive Spare Parts (ASP) Marketplace

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The automotive industry is a major and vital contributor to the UK’s economy, accounting for over GBP 82 Billion turnovers annually. More than 30 manufacturers build in excess of 70 models of vehicles in the UK, supported by 2,500 component providers and some of the world’s most skilled engineers.

Challenges​

A highly lucrative industry comes with its fair share of challenges and for automotive spare parts (ASP), this is no different. Crafting a highly intuitive and customer friendly eCommerce experience for this industry has proved to be a difficult task, with multiple variables coming into play. For one, purchasing spare parts and accessories online for automotive vehicles can be a daunting task for customers due to the severe lack of knowledge of what part will fit their vehicle. Certain spare parts can be extremely specific to a model while others can be applied to a multitude of automotive Makes and Models. Existing online marketplaces have failed to address this issue by continuing to leverage confusing navigation structures and less than optimal search functionalities. As a result, customers are left scratching their heads when navigating through these websites to find particular car parts. Other challenges include:

  • Finding genuine and authentic parts shipped directly from the manufacturer/authorized sellers.
  • Buying at competitive prices set by manufacturers/authorized sellers
  • Insufficient product information making it hard for customers to finalize a purchasing decision.
  • Lack of intuitive website navigation for existing spare parts marketplaces.
  • Lack of an efficient search mechanism customers can use to land on the desired car part.
  • Managing a comprehensive spare parts inventory, which usually consists of millions of active SKUs.

Introducing Glovebox Direct: A ‘Customer-First’ ASP Marketplace

Glovebox Direct is an automotive parts and accessories marketplace, with a vast variety of inventory for OEM parts at competitive pricing. Catering to average consumers and amateur enthusiasts with limited spare parts knowledge, Glovebox Direct is extremely effective in helping its customers find the right part through an extremely intuitive search engine.

Online users are reluctant with their purchase decisions due to insufficient information about the product of their choice. Glovebox Direct guides the customer to make the right choice and provides detailed information about the part, its compatibility with different vehicles and has precise imagery to show the application of the part, allowing for more confident purchasing decisions. Customers are also provided with multiple fitting services to assist them post purchase.

As the official technology partner for Glovebox Direct, Shopdev.co was responsible for building an innovative and intuitive e-commerce platform to translate some of the enormous revenue potential of this industry into the digital space. In addition to the core website, Shopdev also implemented multiple technology integrations to ensure a fully automated, updated and managed product catalogue, minimizing the need for manual intervention. Product feeds and integrations are built for the following players:

  • Manufacturers including Toyota, Honda, Suzuki and Peugeot.
  • Authorized sellers including Parks.
  • The leading British Motor Trade Database, Eurotax.

Implementing a Game Changing Search Experience

Glovebox Direct is defined by its highly intuitive search experience which relies on a User’s VRM (Vehicle Registration Mark/Number) to identify the customer’s exact vehicle Make and Model and provides a free text search field, where the user can input an exact search term (e.g. Rear Light). Based on the inputs, the website will return with an exact match, eliminating the need to scroll through thousands of products, leading to faster customer conversions.

Building a highly efficient search engine on top of a database containing millions of product records is no easy task. Every search event fired off by the customer will trigger the activity of going through millions and millions of records to construct a result set unique to the searching customer, which is then rendered on a search results page. A complex logical technology ecosystem consisting of multiple components was developed to fulfill this business requirement without hampering website performance.

The Technology behind Glovebox Direct

Any mature system must be highly secure, scalable and available. Glovebox Direct has a huge database with millions of records for car parts against various makes, models and their variants.

To manage such a large amount of data while providing a world class e-commerce experience, Glovebox uses the following technology stack:

  • MongoDB to manage unstructured data storage and processing.
  • Magento, the leading e-commerce platform on which the website is built.
  • Express JS, a Node JS framework to build APIs.
  • AWS hosting for highly scalable architecture.

Each vehicle part, its application data and its associated attributes are stored in MongoDB which is free from schema rigidity. MongoDB supports and optimizes free text search and stemming, a core use case for Glovebox. In addition to this, Mongo drivers enable fast development by storing data in binary JSON nature and maps the data model to the object in the application code. MongoDB also supports sharding for the horizontal partition of data for scalability.

Magento and MongoDB communicate via a web API built on Express JS, a node JS framework used to build APIs, which does not require data to be converted into a specific format.

At Shopdev.co, we like to stay one step ahead of the technology curve and are passionate about leveraging technology to solve complex business problems. Our core team of software engineers and business analysts are driven to utilize cutting edge frameworks and processes to deliver innovative solutions including Glovebox Direct.