Building India’s foremost Spares Catalog
I’ve always been hesitant when it came to my articulation. So when I took this up, it was nerve racking. But so was it when I first walked through the doors of GoMechanic, as an intern in 2019, what seems like an age ago.
Since then, we successfully established the GoMechanic Spares division, along side our Services effort, and opened to the both Businesses & Consumers alike. Being one of the first members, I take immense pride as I walk you through how we solved one of the biggest problems faced by us in the Auto Aftermarket, building a Catalog.
Some might argue, why a catalog? The user knows what they are looking for, so do the businesses. It is a necessity driven business, why the need to entice?
But what people often miss, is that buying Spares actually shares a lot of similarities with say buying Groceries. A plethora of options, for the same need/want.
Revealing those options, the possibility of a more economical repair/maintenance of a vehicle is the problem we figured needed tackling.
For every Manufacturer built part (OEM), there exists an Alternative in the Aftermarket (OES), sold by those solely dedicated to researching & developing parts for subsystems of a vehicle, those who actually, in turn, supply a lot of those Manufacturers mentioned, rebranded of course.
Our approach to this problem was two-fold.
First, we decided to make our presence felt in the the lower tranches of the supply chain through our network of Retailers & Workshops by becoming one of the most sought after Supplier of multi-brand Spares.
Second, we created a marketplace that resembles the e-Commerce platforms we use today, to reach out to those Consumers, struggling to get Genuine Parts that don’t burn a hole in their pockets.
Both approaches still needed that little something, that x-factor, for us to stand apart.
That led to the set up of our Cataloguing effort, to collect accurate Pricing, produce aesthetically pleasing Images, correctly Categorise, map Compatibilities & at last showoff those affordable Alternatives for the 7M Products, we currently list on our platforms.
Our attempt didn’t come without its challenges. We were positively overwhelmed with the sheer quantum of Products & Mappings we needed to generate!
We started with zero. I would put price lists together for the major brands we dealt in at the time, then go about digging for missing HSN & Tax Percentages so we were able to accurately Price and produce Invoices for the Inventory we were moving, worth almost 30M per month! This led to the creation of the first version, around 700k Products strong.
And then came the pandemic, which we saw more as boon than bane. Our founders saw the best way to re-channelize energies & keep morale high, was to involve everyone available in building our Catalog, almost 120–150 of them at the time! The sheer might of our team together, led to the Catalog growing from 700k to 7M in a matter of months.
We then set up a newly founded team of diligent Data Analysts & Developers, a rigid set of protocols to test Quality & build a Management System to bring this massive dataset we generated, to the masses.
That brought us to our first low. While we overachieved with quantity, we had suffered significant losses in quality. Our initial efforts were then redirected into making repairs to a dataset, the likes of which we had never seen. To add fuel to the metaphoric fire, we found it difficult to maintain a certain level of precision as we continued creating Products for the myriad of sub Businesses within our division.
Over the coming months, the team grew to 25 members, as we progressed through this gargantuan task. But more importantly, we learned from our misjudgements & feedback. Our learning brought us two important revelations.
One, there is more to a single SKU code than meets the eye. It is highly potent with information, that goes into details of what the part is, which vehicle it goes in & where in the vehicle is goes. We leveraged this to improve our Quality & Speed of Categorisation & Compatibility mapping.
Two, our relative ineffectiveness in conversions was due to the overall lack of genuine imagery. Consumers & Businesses both were unsure as is, and our Imagery was not helping. That’s when we produced our Warehouse App, the latest in a long line of Products.
This App would help us not only collect, but also speed up imaging of products in the inventory and of products that entered the warehouse for JIT dispatches, all published in real-time!
It also became a medium to add Specifications down the line. Specifications effectively communicate Products as measurements & fitment classifications etc.
With a string of these well actioned solutions, we brought ourselves to the forefront of revolutionising the way Spares are bought today, rapidly growing in size & reach.
Like myself, with this article, we continue to challenge ourselves to optimise processes & display to hopefully improve our user’s experience ever so slightly with each change. Until the next!