Headshot of Callum Barker-Nicol, Business Analyst in Product & Platform Engineering at Auto TraderAt a recent Contentsquare client event, we were lucky enough to hear from Callum Barker-Nicol, Business Analyst in Product and Platform Engineering at Auto Trader about optimizing their automotive customer journey.

In his talk, Callum discussed how he and his team used Contentsquare alongside other tools during the launch of its new Vehicle Insight product. 

The UK’s largest online vehicle marketplace

Auto Trader is the UK’s largest marketplace for buyers and sellers of vehicles. Today, visitors to its website can search from a selection of over 465,000 vehicles.

Over 13,000 vehicle retailers use Auto Trader’s B2B Portal to manage their digital forecourt, upload images and descriptions to build the adverts that appear on the consumer-facing website, and respond to queries from prospective customers.

More and more retailers also choose to manage their online orders in Auto Trader’s portal, meaning the company must ensure it can provide the automotive customer experience those retailers expect.

Auto Trader's automotive website
Callum works on Auto Trader’s data and insight products for the company’s retail customers—a role that keeps him extremely busy due to how popular the products are:

“In the last 28 days we’ve had over 26,000 users in our Retail Portal, and 40% of all ads on the Auto Trader website are created there,” he said. “It’s used by over 13,000 retailers, all the way from small dealerships up to the largest franchise groups.”

Struggling to find the right data

One of the unintended drawbacks of having created a Retailer Portal with so much functionality was that it wasn’t as well-integrated as it could have been.

As Callum put it: “We recognized that whilst there’s loads of great insight and functionality inside Retailer Portal, but because things were built at different times they didn’t necessarily line up as well as we’d have liked them to.”

Callum and his team worried that retailers were taking too much time to reach the data they needed due to products being siloed in different areas of the platform.

This meant there was a risk some retailers were not benefitting from the full functionality of the portal.

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Using Contentsquare to investigate the problem

Callum’s team used Contentsquare to dig into user behavior in the portal, investigating automotive customer journeys, looking for broken journeys as well as points where customers were taking more steps than they needed.

“We wanted to understand more about the potential problem and see if we could validate that there was an issue,” Callum said.

Automotive Customer Journey Analysis in the Contentsquare platform
By using Contentsquare to understand user behavior, the team was also able to see which products were getting less traction because users weren’t able to find them intuitively.

As part of this discovery phase, Callum and his team realized that many data points in the retailer portal were siloed in different areas and not integrated well enough into users’ core journeys, as highlighted by Contentsquare.

Comparing the performance of Autotrader’s automotive retail pages

“This meant that retailers really had to seek out the data they needed and that some had been neglecting certain products because they didn’t know where to find them,” Callum explained.

“As a business, we stress the importance of data as part of decision-making. But many data points across our retailer portal were siloed in different areas and not integrated well enough into some of the core journeys that we saw users going through when analyzing in Contentsquare.”
— Callum Barker-Nicol, Business Analyst, Product and Platform Engineering at Auto Trader

One specific negative impact of this siloed data was that Auto Trader’s Market Insight product was getting fewer visits than Callum and his team wanted.

Digging deeper into automotive customer journeys

After this initial discovery phase, the team wanted to go further.

Alongside Contentsquare they used other methods, including the business intelligence tool Looker, face-to-face interviews with a variety of retail customers, and user testing of proposed UX solutions.

“We had our problem statement and key questions, and this is where we dug into Contentsquare some more,” Callum said. “We wanted to drill down into specific journeys where we knew that we might be able to make some improvements and start prototyping solutions.”

Callum and his team used Contentsquare’s Zoning Analysis to find out exactly where in the platform users were clicking. “Contentsquare was really useful again there,” Callum said.

At this point the team used the insights they had gathered to prototype potential solutions, both on paper and using high-level wireframes. Using the project management tool Miro and the collaborative interface design tool Figma, the team progressed towards producing what Callum described as “a high-fidelity prototype”.

From that, they came up with the final design—a new dashboard-based Vehicle Insight product.

Final design of Vehicle Insight in the optimized Auto Trader Retailer Portal

“This is ultimately what we rolled out to customers to solve the problem that we’d used Contentsquare to identify at the start and to provide a much richer automotive customer journey and experience,” Callum said.

This dashboard breaks down how retailers’ live adverts are performing on the Auto Trader website, ranking the ad’s quality, whether there are enough images, how many leads it’s generated, how the price of the car compares with Auto Trader’s valuations, market health and more.

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“What we did was pull together all our data into one place so customers could be served it in one quick glance as they were coming into the platform. That’s a massive time saver for them.”

“Contentsquare helped us throughout that process. It helped us identify the optimal journey for us to embed this new solution to start with, and which products were not being fully utilized. We also dug into why that might be, whether due to broken journeys or siloes or just too many steps.”
— Callum Barker-Nicol, Business Analyst, Product and Platform Engineering at Auto Trader

The combination of user interviews and Contentsquare’s Customer Journey Analysis helped his team identify the top priority for their customers and which areas of the portal were more heavily used. That helped them decide the most valuable data to add to their new dashboard-based solution.

“Contentsquare also complemented some of the raw data that we captured in Looker,” Callum added, “because Contentsquare is a more visual platform, which helped us see patterns in the data quicker.”

From Discovery to Business As Usual (BAU)

Auto Trader rolled out the Vehicle Insight solution to their 13,000-plus retail customers. “It got great traction and feedback,” Callum said, though, his team wouldn’t have known that if they hadn’t immediately started measuring the success of the solution post-launch.

They started tracking sessions and actions in Looker. Then they set up an internal feedback area in Slack for customers to post feedback about the solution. They also got direct feedback from some customers.

And the last piece of that tracking puzzle? Contentsquare.

As Callum explains: “Obviously we wanted to see what was happening on that page and how well it was performing. With Contentsquare we’ve been able to see exactly how people were interacting with that page, how much time they were spending in certain areas, and how many views the page was getting. We can even dig into some of the session replays as well to see what people were doing on the page, which gave us some really great insights.”

Based on those insights from Contentsquare, the company has been able to continue making small tweaks and developments to improve performance even further.

“Contentsquare was a key tool for us while we were building the Vehicle Insight product. It helped us build an understanding of what users were doing before and after the launch. We fed that into our development process and have continued to do that since. It also complemented some of our other tools and techniques.”
— Callum Barker-Nicol, Business Analyst, Product and Platform Engineering at Auto Trader

What’s next for Auto Trader?

Callum and his team plan to roll out even more functionality into the Retailer Portal, including a trended valuations tool allowing retailers to see a powerful view of historic and forecasted vehicle valuations.

“Contentsquare will continue to be a really critical part of our product development toolkit on exciting projects that we’ve got to come, and it has become BAU as we continue to improve products such as Vehicle Insight,” Callum concluded.