Moving $50B of auto sales from offline to online with Manheim Marketplace

Manheim, a division of Cox Automotive, is one of the largest auctioneers of automobiles on the planet, they approached Lazer with the goal of designing, building, and launching a platform which could put the auction on the internet.

Connecting Lazer's background in building and launching great consumer products, with Manehim's extensive auto knowledge has resulted in significant results for Manheim Marketplace. To date the platform has scaled to sell over $100,000,000 of vehicles, all with a nimble team of A+ executors

Understanding the buyer

Because Manheim already has over 100 locations and sells several million cars a year, the product needed to feel like a seamless transition from an in-lane auction to an online one.

To pull this off, Lazer built deep integrations into Manheim's systems which required no manual intervention whatsoever. As soon as a vehicle is checked into the physical auction, its details, images, and photos are automatically pulled into the Marketplace platform ready for sale.

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Auction buyers are power users by nature. Vehicles sell in a matter of minutes, so buyers need to be able to quickly sort through the inventory, find the vehicles they're interested in, and have all the data they need to decide if they should bid or not.

With this in mind, Marketplace supports features like:

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Elasticsearch Instead of querying MongoDB directly, a custom Elasticsearch integration allowed for an indexed, fast search infrastructure which allows Marketplace buyers to find and filter vehicles based on hundreds of properties from the vitals like year, make, and model, to nuances like distance from me, engine size, transmission, and Autograde score.

Custom SMS, email, and in-app notifications An online auction can be better than an in-lane auction because it happens 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. To further give buyers an edge, the Marketplace platform supports custom notifications.

Buyers can set constraints like "Hondas that are red and newer than 2012 with manual transmission" and as soon as a vehicle that hits those constraints is listed, they get a notification wherever they want it.

Proxy bidding

At a traditional in lane auction, a buyer can only bid on one vehicle at a time because they have to be present to outbid other buyers.

With Marketplace, we gave buyers the ability to create a "Proxy Bid" which is essentially a max bid. As others bid on the vehicle, a buyer can set a proxy which will outbid the others in increments of $100 to ensure they get the lowest possible price below their maximum proxy.

Yes, the proxies can even bid against each other!

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It's all in the cards

One of the harder parts of managing an auction is the abundance of state. A vehicle could be in a negotiating phase after the sale, it could be sold but not paid for, it could be listed but not yet started, the list goes on!

In order to manage all this state, but still keep a consistent interface for a vehicle we created a the vehicle card which is an isolated component that can exist anywhere on the app. In the purchases section, search area, under related vehicles, and so on.