All work and no play makes our developers a little uneasy, so we have also been busy with other more ‘fun’ projects, most notably our re-engagement efforts. Generating qualified leads for a our dealers is the cornerstone of our business and this project has a direct impact on keeping us as a leader in lead generation. We have recently completed a few features designed to bring buyers back to our sites and interact with our dealers. Recently released was our Price Change Alert feature. This allows buyers who are interested in inventory to receive notifications each time the price of a listing is changed. In the two weeks it has been in production, we have had more than 4,000 interested buyers sign up! In addition to this feature, we have also revamped our Similar Searches product. This feature sends listings to buyers who submitted a lead, using the criteria they used for the lead. For our My Trader customers who save their searches, we also alert them via email when new listings are added to the database that match their criteria, as part of our Saved Searches product. For our dealers, we are now sending them a monthly email notifying them of the status of their listings. We inform them what listings will be coming offline in the next four weeks, as well as identify listings that are missing valuable criteria, such as no category assigned, listings with no price, and highlight any unused features they have purchased, such as premium listings. All of these efforts are focused on helping our dealers sell more vehicles.
For more than 15 years, our websites have relied on Oracle a the primary database. This platform has helped us grow from a fledgling startup business, to the mature company we are today. But, like all good things, it is time for this partnership to come to an end. The development team — in conjunction with the Architecture and Recreation teams — have been heads down on ‘decoupling’ the website code from Oracle and moving to a new Open Source platform called MariaDB. The cost savings alone make this a valuable and worthwhile effort and the technological benefits are enormous as well. While it may sound like an easy transition, the amount of work is staggering: An apt analogy would be to compare this effort to rebuilding your home, while you still live in it, without a single disruption of your everyday life. A lot of data and dependencies have been built and collected on Oracle during these years and to untangle and rearrange it all — without impacting the business — requires an intense amount of attention and careful planning. Our goal is to be completely done by July 1 and if no one notices, then we will have been successful.