October 02, 2020
BMW’s commerce infrastructure was outdated & monolithic. They needed a flexible and scalable software solution, that would enable them to evolve over time. Using a composable architecture approach we built a sustainable application that transformed the online sales process for BMW stock-cars.
What is MACH about?
Companies need to transform the way they do business, rapidly. In some cases, they need to transform completely in order to become more responsive, agile and to stay competitive. Faced with increasing competition, unprecedented disruption and constant innovation, brands need to invest in a modern approach to enterprise architectures and build next generation platforms if they want to stay above water.
Standing for microservices, API-first, cloud-native and headless technologies, MACH is a set of architectural principles that put flexibility, agility and the pursuit of better business outcomes at the forefront of technical solutions.
- Microservices: Single pieces of business functionality that can be individually designed / deployed, leading to faster development and release cycles.
- API-first: Exposing functionalities through APIs, enabling the flow of data between microservices and acting as the ‘glue’ to link it all together.
- Cloud Native: For on demand access and unrivalled scalability. Making it easy to expand your reach across regions and channels and provide a better customer experience.
- Headless: The ability to deliver amazing front-end experiences without getting distracted by the back-end architectures. Freeing you up to respond rapidly to changing market conditions.
A short introduction to our work with BMW from Creative Director Anders Sjönvall
It's hard to start a serious relationship based on confusing communication, misread promises and non-consistent expectations – I truly believe it’s the same when engaging with brands.
BMW's existing customer journey didn’t even meet the basic standards of engaging their customers and ‘fans’ digitally. Our initial brief was to help them display the availability of stock cars they had to offer across Scandinavia, in a pedagogical manner without depending on third party sales platforms. But we wanted to surpass the client’s expectations and spoil their digital customers who already had high expectations from this premium brand.
Something that has always been close to my heart is brand communication through micro-services. My aim is to always create value, help, and see end-users really engaging with the brand because they want to, not because they are told to. On top of that if the service is based on the customers life, needs and who they really are – we can truly centralize the human before the product. We need to exceed customer expectations and extend premium feeling as well as values, outside of the four wheels of the car.
Everyone is a fan of BMW for their own reasons, we wanted to match them up with the right product which is relevant for them. If you are an expectant mother or even if you’re newly divorced, you are writing a new chapter in life. Everyone´s lives and needs change.
With the BMW sales advisor you´ll not only get the car you want but also the one you need. We call it: Adjust To Life.
More Than a Car Configurator
No matter where you are in the world, buying a car is not just a series of pragmatic decisions; it’s not just how big the trunk is, how many seats do we need or if it’s good for kids etc. It’s also: ‘What do I want my car to say?’ ‘What model reflects my personality?’ ‘Am I an SUV person, or am I more of a sporty person?’
Originally, this project was to create a more seamless experience for customers to conveniently find BMW stock cars, but as the concept developed, the experience got broader.
To configure a car demands that you know what car you want to base your configuration on. We wanted to create a service tool that enables you to not only find out what kind of car you need and one that reflects you, but also to get the keys same day.
A Better Customer Journey Means Happier Customers
A frustrated client told us, “Up until now, our online sales of stock cars has required us to give our car data to third-party websites, and then to buy that data back in the shape of a car ad with homemade photographs, which we then can use as lead generators on our dealer websites. It´s a customer journey from hell.”
We realized that first we needed BMW to own their destiny, that meant owning their own data. Every story has a beginning, and this is where ours started.
We considered the differences between offline and digital car purchases; a car is both a statement and a means to fulfill a purpose. That means that creating a new configurator was out of the question. To configure, you need to know what kind of car you want and need. That’s why people go to a car saloon or dealership to get familiar. What if you can familiarize yourself by asking the right questions digitally?
Introducing the Online Store.
If you are familiar with the products, then you can obviously go straight to the cars available and place you order right away. But if you are new to the brand, or if you’ve recently had a had a life changing experience and need help finding what kind of BMW you need, then you can go through the matchmaking service.
Fill in the hard values; how many passengers, do you need child seats, do you need extra luggage space, etc., and it will display the models that fit those needs.
Out of those models you can adjust the values based on your preferences, personality, design statement and so on. You’re left with the one result that fits you best according to actual data, followed by the secondary choices that also fit you in a ranking order.
You can go to the showroom to configure and tailor your chosen model, but best of all you can order that specific car at a dealership. You can choose the closest dealership, or one with a better price, or a dealership that sells your model in the right color, and much more.
Early on, we realized that we needed to define each car models’ characteristics and personality. We let data and user insights lead the way to create a personality matrix. With this matrix we could easily translate seat counts, luggage space and desired car characteristics to create usable data for the customers. This bridges the gap between formal stock list car data and the BMW experience.
This is where the need for a flexible and scalable architecture became clear as day. To be future proof in terms of functionality, integrations and markets, but also for traffic and performance requirements.
Winning with MACH
Our Microservices-heavy approach, using Cloud services in Azure, made it possible to deliver a platform that enables rich interactions and at the same time lives up to the demands of public web applications with fast loading times and SEO-accessible content. This also allows us to easily add further integrations to internal systems at BMW, external systems or new sources for stock cars without having to affect the rest of the solution.
Valtech and the MACH Alliance
Valtech has always been a MACH Company. Being a Digital Transformation Agency, the agile way of planning, setting up and then managing a MACHified technology platform runs in our DNA. We strongly believe in MACH. To underline that, Valtech has become one of 14 founding members of the MACH Alliance, a non-profit co-operative organization that aims to promote the benefits of truly open, composable ecosystems.