David Cavazos, CIO of car dealership group CLEBER, knew the ins and outs of the auto industry before he started building Merkauto's used car app. After nearly a decade with CLEBER, which owns and operates over 50 new-car dealerships in Mexico, David realized that the industry was fairly uniform, in person and online. He doesn't think that's bad, especially for users, but he still wanted to make Merkauto's app different, integrating features that would minimize clicks and make the coordination of buying, selling, and appraising cars much easier. David spoke with us about CLEBER's vision for Merkauto and how his small team made the app in just a couple months using Bubble.
Tell us about your app and what it does.
Merkauto is a recently launched used car retailer located in Northern Mexico. The app is a platform for car owners to buy or sell their cars to Merkauto. We try to make it very easy for customers to navigate Merkauto's inventory in case they want to buy a car or have a digital appraisal of their car in case they want to sell it. Merkauto just started a couple of months ago, and we're planning to have more than 100 cars in inventory by June or July of this year, and a total in the thousands in the next couple of years.
How does your app work?
The idea is to keep clicks to a minimum. When users enter the homepage, they have to identify whether they want to buy or sell their cars (or both). Depending on that, they go to the Inventory page (for buying) or the Sell Your Car page (for selling). On the inventory page, they can filter our available cars by brand, model, year, etc. This is a very functional page with lots of different ways for the user to look at the cars.
On the seller's side, users have the option to go through a wizard where they select their car's make, model, year, and trim, and based on that, they get an estimated price for their car. They can then schedule an appointment to have the car validated by a technician and get an official offer. To do this easily, both sides (seller and buyer) can utilize built-in connections to other systems, like Salesforce and Calendly. We also have app integrations to keep our inventory in sync with the ERP. In the coming weeks, we will be adding payments (to reserve a car), a function for taking pictures of the car, and other nifty functionality.
Tell us a little about your background and how you discovered no-code tools like Bubble.
Merkauto is part of a larger car group named CLEBER. CLEBER owns and operates over 50 new-car dealerships from brands like Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Lexus, and more. I've been CLEBER's CIO for the last nine years. One of my most important responsibilities is to give CLEBER and its customers the digital tools they need to do their work in a frictionless way.
We see a very strong tendency in IT departments to go from solving purely technical challenges to solving mostly business challenges. In the future, there will be a very marked difference between IT staff from non-IT-related companies and staff from IT-related companies. In other words, if the product or service your company sells is not software- or IT-related, chances are you will mostly be focused on solving business challenges as opposed to technical challenges. Every department and division in the company needs software, data integration, and application integration, and a whole stack of technology and IT departments can't stretch to develop all that from scratch. It is becoming impossible to keep up with demand, and no-code tools help us bridge that gap.
Why did you build your app on Bubble?
The car industry is very standard: Most establishments sell cars in more or less the same way, and the used car industry is no exception. Every used car website looks very similar, which is good because customers can easily navigate them. That said, we want Merkauto to be different and to be better. From the beginning, we knew that the digital side of the business would be key in attracting and retaining customers; however, we also we will have to iterate many times to have a website that is truly innovative and truly focused on a better customer experience.
Developing Merkauto's website using a more traditional stack would have been too slow and too expensive. Bubble allows us to quickly iterate and quickly turn ideas into prototypes, which we can then push to production in minutes, not days or weeks. We have not hit any scalability limitations yet, and we will continue with Bubble until we see the need to change to a more fixed solution. I don't think that's going to happen anytime soon, maybe never. We'll see how Bubble evolves. I hope we can continue using this stack and focusing on our end customers.
What have been your milestones or successes so far?
We have a fully functional website with lots of integrations. We were able to do it in a couple of months with a very small team that is also responsible for other projects in the company. I'd say this has been a success already; however, we still have many iterations and additions to come. We've been able to buy and sell cars with the brunt of the work done on Merkauto, and we're extremely proud and happy with the work we've done so far.
What are your future plans for Merkauto?
We plan to continue iterating and doing A/B testing to make the operation more efficient from both the customers’ and the auto professionals’ perspective. There are a lot of things we’d like to do on the operations side, like inventory management, authorization workflows, transaction documentation, customer records, etc. We will continue to make it easier for customers to find the car they want or need with the right financial conditions. We want to give them the tools they need to ensure they're really finding the best option.
Bubble is a leader in the no-code movement. Bubble offers a powerful point-and-click web editor and cloud hosting platform that allows users to build fully customizable web applications and workflows, ranging from simple prototypes to complex marketplaces, SaaS products, and more. Over 500,000 users are currently building and launching businesses on Bubble – many have gone on to participate in top accelerator programs, such as Y Combinator, and even raise $365M in venture funding. Bubble is more than just a product. We are a strong community of builders and entrepreneurs that are united by the belief that everyone should be able to create technology.