Sonic Automotive is a Fortune 500 company based in Charlotte, North Carolina, and is the seventh largest automotive retailer in the United States. The company operates two segments, a franchised dealership business that represents over 25 different new vehicle brands and EchoPark Automotive, which offers a unique car buying experience through over 50 dealerships. EchoPark utilizes an ultra-low pricing strategy and simplified easy purchase experience that has contributed to their strong growth.
With a history of agility and velocity to market, Sonic Automotive turned to its partner Bottle Rocket to jumpstart this new solution and progress the company rapidly towards the finish line. We started by taking a look at where the organization is today in their offering and where they needed to be in order to empower and build the experience that they dreamt of in the future.
The relationship began with an eight-week strategy engagement where we took a deep dive into EchoPark’s user experience, technical architecture, and experience strategy. We conducted stakeholder interviews, mapped the current customer journey, and conducted an in-depth competitive exploration into other non-automotive customer-centric experiences and digital solutions.
We knew that would fuel EchoPark’s commerce strategy and serve evolving consumer needs and expectations. Scalability and ongoing strategic conversations would become critical in order to meet the challenge. From a technical perspective, we needed to help the brand determine the best way to “stand on top of” all of the existing technology but build a custom experience that is not only differentiated for the automotive industry but differentiated for ANY industry. We needed to identify what technical infrastructure would be best suited to support the company today and scale with it as it grows and expands into even more customer-centric offerings in the future.
The goal was to shift the power and control to the customer, enabling them buy or sell a car, however, whenever, and wherever they wanted.
While there are benefits of industry-specific tools, the team found that many couldn’t meet the larger business goals that Sonic had for the EchoPark brand. Specifically, due to the complex nature of digital commerce, fraud protection, analytics, and the need for a flexible customer experience, it was determined that pure play technology, namely Sitecore, would be the best solution.
The strategic work also included a usability study, behavioral insights, conceptual design work, future journey mapping, digital product blueprint and roadmap creation, MVP feature prioritization, and an OKR analytics framework.
After the strategic foundation had been set, the team embarked on a 10-month product execution phase- designing & developing our way through 20 Sprints, integrating with over 15 3rd parties, and launching one incredible product to a market by the end of 2021. Since Echopark has brick & mortar locations, the team not only focused on creating the digital product, but also immersing themselves with EchoPark store teams & the in-store experience to ensure a seamless and omni-channel guest experience with the new echopark.com. With subject matter experts from across the globe, east to west coast, from India to Brazil, this team became Bottle Rocket’s largest global delivery project to date.
In a little less than a month, and in only one market, we are already seeing exciting results from our efforts. From combatting a historically skeptic-ridden industry with transparency, to making people and families feel confident, at ease, and proud of their purchase, we are excited and motivated to continue on in this partnership to deliver even more business and user value going forward. Throughout 2022, we are excited to continue rolling out the new experience nationwide as well as incrementally enhancing and perfecting the experience as we learn more!
We look forward to really rolling out a special tool we have been working on to everyone in a bigger way. It is a very special tool/weapon and the team at Bottle Rocket, our business partner, did a fantastic job with the development of the tool.