Re-building and re-thinking the Exapro website
Our cooperation with Exapro began more than 5 years ago when we helped to build Exapro founders a global online marketplace. There is an Exapro case study on our website if you wish to read more about how the story began. Since that time we developed many additional features and have provided Exapro with continuous SLA, maintenance, etc. In 2015, a decision about a radical upgrade of the front-end was made. But first things first, let’s have a short recap.
What is Exapro?
Exapro is a marketplace for used machinery, connecting buyers and sellers worldwide. Organized in categories and subcategories with smart filtering and intelligent search, it offers a wide selection of industrial equipment and used machines in many different sectors such as metalworking, plastic injection, packaging, industrial robots, chemical and pharmaceutical, woodworking, food processing, printing, generator sets, textile, etc.
In the last couple of years, the purchase of used machines has started to occur more and more online and so the website can be found in 9 different languages. Sellers from any country in the world can propose their used machines for sale on the website. At the same time, buyers can browse through thousands of up-to-date items in the catalogue, which can be filtered by manufacturer, year of the machine, location of the seller, price, and multiple industry-specific attributes of the machine. To sell a machine, the seller registers for free on the website and proposes his machine.
Exapro's sale agent team works on each listed item and helps the seller to improve it (copywriting, keywords, pictures, etc.) to make it attractive for buyers and to find the most appropriate customer for the machine. Once the agent puts them in touch, a real-world visit can be organized to see the machine. An Exapro agent is dedicated to the buyer and the seller in order to make the deal easier. The agent will be the linking point between the seller and the buyer. He will assist them in order to find a common agreement and increase the confidence for both parties.
To finish the big picture regarding the Exapro business model, there is nothing to pay until the machine is sold. After that, a commission (from 5 to 10% of the final price of the machine) is paid by the seller to Exapro. Currently, the website offers 50,000 machines and serves thousands of requests every week.
Technically it’s empowered by a powerful back office written in Django framework (based on Python) and front-end counting several tens of thousands of subpages (more technical details can be found here). To keep the website UX friendly, we do regularly automated tests using multiple tools such as tools.pingdom.com.
We also use several caching layers in combination with CDN to have content delivered closest to our final users. We also keep in mind the security side and privacy of our users, so we test fully ciphered version of our website using letsencrypt and reached an A grade on ssllabs.com.
The back office works on the ticket-based logic and there is not much space for radical improvements. At the opposite site was the front-end, which was based on an 8-year-old design and was not optimized for mobile devices. Also, analytics tools showed a lot of places which could bring a better user experience, higher conversion rates, and improve overall sales and business figures.
Measure first, decide after
Obviously there was a lot to improve on the front-end, but it won’t be very wise to start with wireframing or drawing a new responsive website straight away. With Exapro founders (who are, by the way, very good in Google Analytics and prepared an extensive website performance presentation), we needed to double-check that all measured figures and analytics outputs we observe are correct. Also we wanted to re-validate all website conversions, events, and goals we were watching in the last couple of years and talk to external experts with fresh eyes. After a small tender we picked guys from Bell & Hurry and top UX designer Antonín Pospíšil, who helped us to reflect our thinking, look at the portal from scratch, came up with their own ideas, drew user flows, and much more.
Most important features
To make it short, the investigation and preparation phase took several months and we redesigned the front-end from scratch with keeping things which were working well. The latest technologies and development approaches were taken and you can check the result at www.exapro.com. Here are the most important highlights:
A fully responsive website
In order to improve the UI/UX, Exapro wanted to improve both functionalities and design of that new website. The first change is that the website is totally responsive. Exapro made a thoughtful traffic and website usage analysis and, aside from other important conclusions, has already seen that in 2014 at least 1 of 4 of their customers check the catalogue from a mobile device (tablet, mobile). The new website is now fully adapted to mobile, including search, branded transaction emails, and newsletters.
A more efficient filter system
Exapro has also improved the filter system: it’s now more precise, faster, and more search options are available. Customers can now sort machines by relevancy based on a custom algorithm that COEX has created. Now, the website can show the newest available machine first, order manufacturers alphabetically, order by year of manufacture, or by showing the machines with the lowest price first.
Clearer product pages
Thanks to customer feedback, product pages have also been improved. Pictures are now bigger and products have more details. Customers can also create alerts to be notified when a similar machine enters the market and get an email when that machine is available.
It’s also possible to share a product page and print it directly from the website.
A better customer account
Once users have created an Exapro account, they can take advantage of new functions. From there, they can add and manage the machines they have for sale, set up and edit their product alerts, manage their newsletter preferences, and much more.