Subaru digital agency services case study

Subaru website shown in a desktop device

Digital agency services for innovation in the automotive industry

About Subaru

Subaru is one of Australia’s leading automotive manufacturers. They have proven themselves to be leaders in the digital space, with an impressive portfolio of websites and online tools, all delivering cutting edge customer experiences.

The objective

Subaru needed digital agency services to deliver a wide range of customer-focused tools, with multiple integration points, to customers, dealers and Subaru employees. Everything was aimed at driving conversions, engagement, brand loyalty and innovation.

The project journey

A successful relationship spanning over six years, Sitback teamed up with Subaru Australia and NZ as it’s full-service digital agency partner, to deliver an impressive portfolio of websites and online tools to improve brand awareness, optimise customer engagement and drive conversion and organic growth.

The strong partnership thrived on technical innovation and creativity and there is no better example than when the groundbreaking e-commerce platform was delivered in 2012; the first website in the world to sell a car solely online.

The BRZ model, available only to buy through the website at that time, was sold out within 90 minutes of going live! Moreover, within two days a nine-month waiting list had been created. The website had a number of complex integration points including Subaru’s inventory system used to forecast a delivery date, Subaru’s CRM for order processing, 3rd party payment gateway for managing deposits and POLK for generating regional price calculations. This included a custom algorithm to perform a reverse calculation to provide a fixed driveway price based on postcode. The AWS platform with it’s load balancing and auto scaling features was integral to managing the high traffic demand to the website.

It’s a credit to the technical team that with some enhancements the underlying architecture of the website has been used to extend the number of models available to buy online.

“The Sitback team proved their collaborative skills and ability to deliver a significant project across all levels at each milestone. The online platform for selling the Subaru BRZ was the world’s first and the team at Sitback underpinned the success.”

Marc Webb, Group General Manager Digital Communications, Inchcape Australia

Powerful, interactive customer-focused tools

It’s fair to say that it was an exciting road we travelled with the iconic brand. The main Subaru website, attracting more than 1.5m visitors per month, was brimming with powerful, custom-built tools and targeted content to make it the one source of all data for customers on their car-buying journey. Traffic was accurately tracked ensuring users were funnelled towards their goal completion.

Car configurator tool

‘Build and price your own’, the most visited tool on the website, allowed customers through a 3-step process to design, build and price their own vehicle which could be printed or shared.

Car comparison tool

The model comparator tool was a distinct offering from Subaru and placed them head to head with giants, such as Carsales and Car Advice. Users could compare both Subaru vs Subaru models as well as Subaru vs Competitor models creating a seamless experience from viewing, comparing and enquiring about a car.

Subaru website shown in a desktop computer

Headless Drupal content management

The Subaru ‘Do’ branding was released in 2016 and as a result, the website was redesigned with the presentation layer being rebuilt using the headless CMS approach; one of the first implementations of its kind in Australia. This allowed the CMS to be separated from the presentation layer allowing flexibility and agility to utilise the latest UI features.

You can read more about our headless CMS development approach to Drupal in our deep-dive Subaru case study.

A blue Subaru BRX parked on a country road. The road surface is gravelly and behind the car in a field backing on to some woods.

Embracing the used car landscape

Subaru cars are well known for holding their retail value, creating a lucrative market not to be overlooked. A ‘Used Cars’ section listing all available Subaru used vehicles across hundreds of dealerships around the country was released in 2012 attracting more than 300,000 visitors per month. Data from two 3rd party data sources, Glasses Guide and Dealer Solutions, which included dealership details, including vehicle images, was mapped to the specific vehicle data, such as, number of doors, transmission, fuel consumption, etc, allowing a single listing to be presented on the website. Powered by a faceted search driven by the Apache Solr search, users could quickly and easily match vehicles to their search criteria.

“The Sitback development team excelled in their speed of delivery and continually worked to the highest technical standards. Their quality of work built confidence and was key to Subaru delivering a business critical project.”

Illustration of a young man from the waist up

Group Digital Marketing Manager, Subaru Australia

Secure customer portal for car owners

Whilst growth and acquisition are key drivers for most brands Subaru also placed customer retention at the heart of its brand promise. From a digital touch point the ‘My Subaru’ member portal demonstrated the emotional commitment to caring for the customer and their car. Salesforce was the main data source and the website was the presentation layer where all data was pulled from Salesforce and made available to the customer.

Users could log in and view their policy information and vehicle service history, access the ‘book a service’ tool, update their personal details, and relinquish ownership of the vehicle when it came time to part ways.

Supporting the Car Dealership Network

In addition to the tools and functionality built around customers, Sitback delivered a multi-site solution, managed by Subaru, providing dealers with their own branded web presence.

Each site drew model information from the main Subaru database, meaning dealers weren’t required to maintain vehicle details individually.

Additionally, a news section on each microsite was populated by a Subaru-controlled news feed, while dealers retained the autonomy to create original content.

My Subaru promo shot with the website in a mobile phone overlayed on top of a Subaru radiator grille.
My Subaru displayed in a mobile device

A truly successful partnership

Designing and executing the Subaru digital roadmap was a true team effort. Monthly planning sessions were held where Sitback would report on key objectives and contribute to the digital component that fed into the overall strategic pillars of the business.

To ensure that day-to-day activities ran smoothly, a dedicated Support & Optimisation team was provided by Sitback to manage all Business As Usual (BAU) activities. The team provided a help desk with a single point of contact and a pool of trained developers, producers, system administrators and designers to call upon to manage, maintain and optimise all website activity.

All web-related issues were responded to and resolved by the 24/7 Platform and Application Support to drive high availability and guarantee great customer experiences, for both the Subaru team, their customers, and the supporting dealerships across Australia.

The digital agency services provided through this enduring partnership were many and varied, calling upon all of the skillsets across the entire Sitback team, from customer research and experience design, to industry-defining software engineering, account management, and website support & optimisation.

“The team at Sitback understand the Automotive landscape and are well prepared to deliver on any requirement.”

Marc Webb, Group General Manager Digital Communications, Inchcape Australia.

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