Live Auction Mobile App

Aston Barclay - the largest car auction company - wanted to increase their digital footprint. Learn how they went from only selling physically to conquering the web and mobile arenas with the help of Humboldt Solutions.

The Problem

Aston Barclay Ltd had sold cars physically through their auctions using Humboldt Solution's bespoke auction management software since 2009. Being aware that the future is digital, they wanted to move into the online space.

They had already worked with Humboldt and other partners to develop an online website where buyers can bid onine and win vehicles, but their customers could not use the website on their phones - the LIVE website used an Adobe Flash Player component to stream live video and audio auction in real-time. Without this, the LIVE functionality was of little use to mobile users and of course of no use to Aston Barclay.

Aston Barclay came to Humboldt Solution with a request to bring LIVE functionality to mobile.

The Solution

Watch the video below to get a better understanding of how the app works:

Humboldt Solutions appreciated that Aston Barclay's existing LIVE customers were heavily dependent on the live feed from the auction halls to allow users to correctly bid on a car and get the instant feedback of winning or losing a lot. Humboldt also realised that Aston Barclay wanted to capture as large an audience as possible.

Humboldt Solutions explored as many options to bring their existing LIVE functionality to mobile, investigating options such as Xamarin and Cordova. Cordova was skipped immediately as Humboldt recognised that end users would want a native feeling app and would feel cheated if they had a web-like interface on their mobile. Humboldt also investigated Xamarin but after some investigation and some discussion it was quickly apparent that the platform, while still in heavy use, wasn't going to deliver long term.

Humboldt Solutions instead settled on a React Native platform - this framework would allow incredibly fast iteration during development (meetings with Aston Barclay would often involve expecting a bug fix the next few days only for Humboldt staff to hand over a new build with the bug fixed in a matter of minutes). Most importantly, it could easily integrate with the existing SignalR technology used to manage the entire auction process across all the sites with a few external libraries.

It wasn't all easy, however, as the live audio and video stream would have to be tackled. Humboldt Solution took it upon themselves to build a bespoke, native platform solution that would stream the video and audio from Aston Barclay halls onto both iOS and Android.

The Result

What can we say? Well, we can let AM-Online say that the app that Humboldt Solutions developed for Aston Barclay were a finalist at the UK Digital Experience award, beating out Octopus Energy and EE. With the tooling, Humboldt was able to easily iterate upon customer requested features month after month, delivering increased customer satisfaction. That increased customer satisfaction has lead to over £10 million worth of vehicles purchased through the app and 17% of all online bids now coming through mobile bidders. But here is what the Stewart Ford, the IT Director of Aston Barclay has to say about Humboldt Solutions:

Humboldt go the extra mile. They’re flexible and very responsive. We like the fact that we can ask for something and they might come back with a better suggestion of how to solve the problem. We always feel like it’s a two-way conversation.

Humboldt cleared the decks and streamlined everything in our backend to make it really slick, which gave us a platform to rapidly develop the front end.

We now have a mobile app that is constantly updating. We really feel ahead of the game thanks to the work Humboldt have done

Our car auctions are the heartbeat of the business, so to have one centralised system that runs smoothly has made a huge difference.

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