The Factory CEO Lynn Clark and Jerry Clark, the company’s director of technology and development (he’s also Lynn’s husband) started developing the idea for an online car auction platform about two years ago. Lynn said she’d been in the industry for 35 years, running car dealerships, among other jobs, and two things kept her up at night: “Keeping costs down on the wholesale side of things and making our jobs easier.”
It’s easy for a used-car dealership to miss little things, like a small crack in the windshield, and appraise a car for the wrong amount using limited tools like Kelley Blue Book.
“Little things can add up,” Lynn said. “We wanted to design something that could be, first and foremost, an appraisal tool.”
So they designed an app, but it quickly evolved into more than just a mobile appraisal tool. The Factory app also includes an online auto marketplace, which means a larger inventory and larger buyer pool. It also means dealers don’t have to drive to auctions and transport cars that don’t sell back to the dealership. Instead they can buy and sell from anywhere.
The app also has a real-time reporting dashboard, which gives instant statistics of appraisals completed today and in the past. It alerts managers when vehicles have aged 30 and 60 days, and it shows sales opportunities across the wholesale marketplace.
“The problem was the dealerships — it’s basically a very archaic way of doing things,” she said. “It’s very costly, going to the auction house. It wastes a lot of time and there are limited buyers and a limited amount of inventory at any given auction. We’re just trying to bring an archaic system into the 21st century. But we needed to find a technology partner.”
Jerry reached out to Oracle and other cloud providers including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and IBM. Oracle replied, via phone and email, in four hours, which was much faster than any of the other companies, he said. And Oracle had a program for small and medium businesses, which was appealing to the startup car marketplace.
After engaging with the other cloud providers, The Factory chose Oracle because of its reputation and because they trusted its cloud to keep their data secure. It’s cloud database was also a key selling point, Jerry said: “The heart of our system is the database and Oracle does make the best relational database in the world.”
The application sometimes processes upwards of 20,000 vehicles in a busy weekend. Each appraisal record contains multiple pictures, 24 points of description, and numerous text and voice descriptions.
It also connects front-end apps with back-end services handling security and data management. And it simplifies federated authentication with third-party applications such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.
It uses several Oracle Cloud services in addition to the database, such as mobile, storage, and Integration Cloud to automate processes and integrate applications and data.
“We needed very fast, simple, seamlessly expandable storage capacity. When a dealers signs on his entire system, he may appraise 10 to 12 cars in a day, there’s 138,000 dealerships in the U.S. — that’s a lot of data,” Jerry said. “[The platform] needs to be infinitely expandable, and Oracle has provided that for us.”