A Week in the Life: Joe Hainstock, Zing Developer
21st June 2021
If you ask someone on the street to name an online commerce platform, chances are they’d say “Amazon”.
But that’s far from the whole picture. Despite Amazon’s dominance, there are hundreds of opportunities that are ripe for digital transformation – they just haven’t been discovered or invested in yet.
One such area is the car accessories market. We’ve been working with vGroup, the leader in the world of car mat manufacturing and distribution, who have decided there’s a big opportunity to create the default digital platform for the sector.
Let’s start with car mats. Currently there are around 8,000 vehicle patterns and with hundreds of options on trim and materials, there are literally millions of combinations of car mats. It’s invariably done manually, which leads to errors in the cataloguing process and gaps in their offering.
As both the retail and car dealership markets are under increasing margin pressure, sales of car mats and other accessories represent a lucrative digital and in-store opportunity. There are currently sales of 10 million car mats estimated in the UK alone each year.
The lightbulb moment for vGroup was deciding to create an application that streamlines this process for dealers and retailers and gives them a new revenue stream for car mats, and other accessories in future.
We have worked with vGroup to build the industry’s first application: MAT APP.
“When customers go to a dealership they expect the same digital experience that they have as everyday consumers, but it’s an expensive undertaking for dealers to create this individually.
“That’s why we’re launching the MAT APP as a platform for them to easily incorporate car mat configuration and sales into their own service offering.”
Chairman, vGroup International
According to Martyn, it’s part of a deliberate move to go beyond manufacturing and distributing products, to becoming a platform provider, enabled by technology.
vGroup has already signed its first MAT APP customers, one of Europe’s largest independent car dealerships and a UK high street parts retail chain.
vGroup told us this application is part of a £600,000 investment in digital transformation.
Our role has been to develop a proof of concept and then build the application so that it can be seamlessly integrated into a retailer or dealerships website, and then enabled in store or on a forecourt using an iPad or bespoke kiosk.
To me this is a fantastic example of spotting an opportunity from the perspective of having an industry insight. There must be hundreds of segments like this that you could only digitally transform if you have the industry know-how.
I know that Martyn and his team are proud to see the application live and we have enjoyed the opportunity to apply our thinking and expertise in an industry we haven’t worked in before. It’s combining abilities in this collaborative way that is very much part of the Zing way.
How the Mat App works
As part of a simple four step process, the application works by asking the user for their vehicle registration number (VRN) or maker and model, to pull up the car mat pattern.
From there they can choose from options including materials, colour and trim to create a unique configuration. Upon order, a confirmation message is also sent to the customer via SMS using the Twilio platform.
The application can be integrated into a dealership or retailer’s website as a widget, or work at the point of sale in the showroom or store as a kiosk or iPad application.
vGroup plans to offer the functionality to other accessories, such as paint protection kits and tyre service kits in the next phase of the implementation.
If you work in the automotive market and would like to find out more, head to the vGroup website.