Monolithic technology and siloed experiences impacted Americar’s ability to give customers an on-brand, up-to-date, and streamlined buying experience that encompassed its growing subsidiaries.
A unified content platform and strategic design system that support a connected, more cohesive digital experience and faster website launches amid the acquisition of new subsidiaries.
With faster, more automated content operations, the Americar team can now spend more time optimizing digital experiences and connecting with customers — improving the overarching brand experience.
“We used to spend a lot of time planning operational aspects of changing and optimizing our experiences — the ‘how.’ With all that figured out, Marketing and Growth teams can focus their time and energy on the actual content — or ‘what’ — of the experience.”
“We want to give modern customers the opportunity to shop for their next ride in a modern way."
“Today we have very few people managing content across all subsidiaries. More than impressive, it’s easy, and no longer a challenge.”
Imagine: Your hand-me-down, rusted-out, clunker of a car has finally hit non-drivable status — which means it’s finally time to shop for a new set of wheels. As your excitement peaks, it quickly fades to dread and apprehension. Not only is that new car a sizable investment, but the process of securing and maintaining it is an equally sizable headache. You have to get rid of your old car, update insurance, figure out financing, and manage routine maintenance. It’s enough to drive anyone up a wall — no pun intended. Luckily, Americar is changing all of this.
The prominent automotive group, founded in 1988, represents over 50 leading vehicle brands and encompasses eight distinct companies. With more than 150 retail stores and vehicle repair workshops, this expansive network boasts a range of services that enables customers across Peru and Chile to do everything from purchasing, financing, and leasing vehicles to securing insurance, warranties, maintenance, and repairs.
For Americar, providing convenience is key — it’s what really sets the group apart from competitors. In 2019, it became clear that this meant offering a truly omnichannel experience where customers could start their journey with the company online and continue it in-store (or go the online route entirely). The ideal experience would support unique customer journeys and automate certain steps to speed up and streamline the process.
Lacking the technology to support such a complex, interconnected experience, Americar shifted gears from monolithic to MACH (microservices-based, API-first, cloud-native, and headless) technologies. With Contentful at the core of its new microservice tech stack, the automotive group has been able to build out a more consistent, connected, and scalable experience.
Rerouting to an interconnected, omnichannel future
In its early years of digital marketing and selling, Americar took a traditional approach to its technology, adopting monolithic platforms tied to specific sectors of the company, each of which required manual hosting and deployment.
While this setup made sense at the beginning when the company was strictly selling cars in a concentrated area, Americar’s lean team began to experience issues with resourcing and consistency across its digital experience as the group scaled to add new offerings, subsidiaries, and partners. With each addition to its portfolio came a need for new web pages and more extensive integrations. The group struggled to build and deploy these new sites with any speed, much less translate them into local dialects and currencies, as each had to be started from scratch. While much of the content remained the same across experiences, team members still had to manually copy and paste it from one location to the other. More than time-consuming, this process was error-prone.
“The old, manual way of doing things led to a slew of pricing issues. Someone would hit the wrong number and all of a sudden a car would be 1,000 dollars less or 1,000 dollars more. — and that's huge,” Fabian Müller, Chief Digital Officer at Americar, shared.
Testing for the best tech with a proof of concept
Eager to improve accuracy and efficiency, in addition to customer, partner, and employee satisfaction, Müller and other technical team members began to explore alternative design systems and technologies. They found that an atomic design system and cloud-native technologies would enable them to create standardized digital experiences and iterate on them more quickly while shrinking management responsibilities. They also thought swapping out a single platform for a series of microservices might provide more flexibility to integrate with the technologies and services offered by partners.
With an idea of what it wanted and needed from an architecture and capabilities standpoint, Americar began to explore technologies. It wanted something high-performing, with a vetted track record of success — which helped to narrow the possibilities to two: Contentful and Adobe Experience Manager. A successful proof of concept pushed Americar toward the Contentful Composable Content Platform.
“The technology was very open,” Müller noted. “We loved that not everyone needed to have technical knowledge or experience with the platform to understand it and develop content with it — and that’s not the case with most other tools on the market.”
Accelerating growth with atomic design and partner support
Together, Apply Digital and Americar developed a design system that could be used across all of its operational companies — which include Salazar Israel, Portillo, Coseche, Wigo Motors, Servimaq, Carflex, Clicar, and OLX. This interconnected system features both content types which house universal content that remains the same across concessions and content types that can be localized and customized.
With the framework in place, Americar launched eight redesigned, modern websites in just one year. It’s also been able to shrink production timelines tied to launching new sites amid acquisitions and expansions — its acquisition of OLX Autos is a prime example. With Contentful, it took Americar engineers and marketers just six weeks to build a new site from scratch and connect it to the company’s larger digital experience — a project which would ordinarily take months to complete.
“We used to spend a lot of time analyzing the best way to build out and develop those experiences. Today, we spend time making the change and can then move on — and that's huge,” Müller said.
Despite Contentful being a new tool for many on Müller’s team, its straightforward user interface made onboarding simple.
“The Marketing, Growth, and Digital Retail teams — the ones working with the platform daily — have picked it up very quickly. It takes just a handful of exercises. Because this wasn’t the case with many other technology vendors, they were surprised. Happy, but surprised,” Müller noted.
Revving up the financing process and customer experience
With more streamlined content operations (and less time spent wrestling technology), the Americar team has been able to shift its focus from simply maintaining its digital experience to optimizing it with the end user in mind.
By leveraging Contentful APIs and the Contentful Marketplace, Americar has been able to connect its subsidiaries and the technologies they rely on to operate — such as AWS and Terraform Cloud. This means customers no longer have to jump from one site to another to purchase a new car, sell their old one, secure insurance, or take advantage of Americar’s other services.
Another bonus of the new platform: Americar has been able to automate quotes and financing. Team members no longer have to spend an exorbitant amount of time running calculations to project these numbers nor do customers have to spend time waiting for them. As a result, the sales team has new bandwidth to build more meaningful relationships with customers.
Together, these changes are increasing Americar’s digital sales. They’ve also led to a 14% increase in page views and a 91% increase in time spent on the site.
Mapping the next stop on the path to globalization
With its scalable platform in place, Americar has been able to explore new opportunities to expand. This includes launching subsidiaries in Mexico, Colombia, and Educador over the next few years — a project already well in the works.
According to Müller, “With our current technology and the way it's set up, there’s really no limit to where we can grow or how fast we can get there.”