Case Study: Automotive Sales Website & API Integration

Need

Cook & Reeves (C&R) is a Louisville, KY based automotive dealership specializing in van sales and rentals.

In early 2009, C&R engaged us to work with them on a custom software development project that would include a new website and an inventory management system.  However, by early 2015 the website design and technologies used to build the site had become a bit dated and C&R desired a refresh. They also noticed that by 2015 a much higher portion of website traffic was coming from mobile devices.

The automotive industry had also changed during that time with technology playing an ever increasing role in a customer’s buying decisions. It was essential that C&R be able to integrate their inventory with industry standard online tools like Cars.com and Carfax.  To reduce labor and the potential for listing errors, it was important that they manage their inventory in one system only. Any integrations or synchronizations with third party services would need to be fully automated.

After the website had been delivered, C&R saw an additional opportunity to improve their wheelchair transportation business by using a custom form on the website to request pertinent information from their customers.

Solution

Since we built the original inventory management application in 2009 and understood the customer’s needs very well, it was relatively easy for us to jump into this project and get moving. We already knew and understood the data model needed for inventory management and most of the website content would get only minor updates.  We utilized the Django web framework and the Bootstrap CSS frameworks so that C&R would benefit from the “batteries included” nature of those libraries. We got a designer working on initial mockups and soon had the customer’s approval to proceed.

The result was a new website with a fresh look that was mobile friendly from the very beginning. The content pages were edited for clarity and attention was given to search engine optimization (SEO) for the content pages.

Along with the rest of the site, the inventory management system was rebuilt on newer technologies and received a few enhancements to boot, like a more flexible inventory search feature. C&R employees use the website to upload all information about vehicles they have in inventory, including multiple images for each car that are displayed in user-friendly galleries.

Carfax reports were made available for review on each detail page of an inventory vehicle.  We also worked with the Cars.com API to automatically synchronize C&R inventory details and pictures with the Cars.com website.

Later in the year, we put together a multi-part form to collect scheduling requests for their wheelchair transportation business. The form dynamically changes based on answers given so that only pertinent information is required of the user.

Dan Cook was pleased with our work on the site and sent us this email a couple months after we launched:

Just thought I would pass along a compliment. I met with our Yellow page rep and their YP.com internet specialist today. They were very impressed with our site and the job you guys have done promoting our site on the search engines. They didn’t think they could do anything better for us in this area…Coming from the big boys, I think that says a lot.

– Thanks, Dan

Stats

  • Industry: Automotive
  • Project Size: < $25K
  • Time Frame: ~3 months
  • Quality Control
    • Over 60 automated tests
    • Representing 96%+ code coverage
  • Technologies
    • Python: including Django
    • HTML5, SASS, Bootstrap
    • Ansible for provisioning and deployment
    • Ubuntu Linux OS
    • PostgreSQL database
    • Apache + mod_wsgi
    • 3rd Party Services: CircleCI, CodCov, Sentry, Carfax, Cars.com