carsales-dev
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carsales-dev

1search — We innovate so others can innovate faster

What is the most important thing in a marketplace? Discoverability.

carsales is a marketplace. While it is important to have lots of vehicles on the site, it is even more important to make it easy for users to discover the vehicles. Sellers simply won’t sell on your platform if their vehicles cannot be discovered easily, and we need to help users find that 1 car out of the 200,000+ cars on our website.

It is precisely this that carsales excel at and we do it via our patented and proprietary search and refinement engine called 1search.

What is 1search?

It never ceases to amaze me that people always interject to help me finish my sentence whenever I explain the salient features of 1search. If you have ever searched for a car on carsales.com.au, you would have used 1search. It is the technology that gives you your search results and the ability to drill down to the car you want via refinements. Not just any bulk standard refinements too. We show you the live number of cars currently for sale in each refinement link to guide your next selection. We also remove the ones that are not available so you are not inundated with useless selections — why bother showing a link for Pink Ferrari when the search engine knows there are none available? We provide all of these and more with a 95th percentile response time of 30ms!

As you can see, this technology directly contributes to improved user experience (UX). It is this secret sauce that makes us so successful!

Verticals use 1search

At carsales, we not only have the carsales.com.au marketplace but also several others such as boatsales.com.au and bikesales.com.au which we call verticals. We also have the relatively recent additions to the carsales family from our international acquisitions and partnerships. All these verticals use 1search. As end-users, you are familiar with the listing sites our clients built using 1search. They are the direct clients of 1search and we constantly thrive to improve UX for them the same way they improve UX for you as the end-users.

The Problem

In the past, we have allowed for very deep and intimate customisations within the search engine that served its purpose for each vertical. It made life easier for our clients at the time. Unfortunately, this resulted in the verticals running their own custom codebase and quickly became unmanageable as the business grew. Other clients became reliant on a single team to make changes necessary to bring an idea to market.

It was even more painful for our international families living across different time zones where we only had a mere few hours to communicate each day. The additional language barrier certainly did not make things easier. Each vertical also ran a different version of our search engine codebase, thus pushing out bug fixes and new features was a very painful, slow and error prone process. It became apparent immediately that it was against the very DNA of carsales where we thrive to innovate fast and furious.

The Solution

The Search Team set out on the journey to improve 1search around 9 months ago. We have rearchitected it from the ground up with the DevSecOps culture in mind, i.e. we enable our clients to be the DevSecOps. This means that not only should our clients be able to spin up our service via their own configuration, but they should also be responsible for the security and operations related to the service. On top of that, we also want our clients to fully integrate the configuration changes related to our service into their CI/CD pipelines. We want our clients to “self-serve”. That said however, it should still be as “managed” as possible — i.e. not burdening the clients with unnecessary aspects of the service. There are trade-offs that we have to make as we shift this clients-vs-our responsibility “line” to cater for our fast moving verticals.

This way, the teams who innovate to bring you new and exciting features on the sites you already love so much can do so at a much faster pace. Along the same line, as our business continues to grow horizontally, new search engines can be spun up quickly by our new clients — in other words, we aim to provide our clients with a turn-key experience. Our international clients such as Encar (encar.com) and Webmotors (webmotors.com.br) will always be on the same version of 1search as carsales and have access to the bug fixes, security patches and more importantly the latest and greatest features!

Conclusion

We are shifting the responsibility line with one goal in mind — to empower our customers to innovate at the speed they are capable of. It was this speed of innovation that got us to where we are and it will get us where we want to go. There is substantial risk taking the search engine to where no one’s taken it before (we will blog about this in future posts) but the entire tech team is energised, confident and excited. No one would have it any other way — because at carsales, we innovate!

At carsales we are always looking for fun and talented people to work with. If you liked what you read and are interesting in joining, please check out what positions we have available in our careers section.

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