Integrating with Orbee: Personalization

Nicholas Ambrosio
Dec 21, 2018 · 3 min read

Welcome to a new series on Orbee’s technical blog — Integrating with Orbee! This series will cover the variety of ways dealerships and vendors can integrate with Orbee and the technical challenges solved by doing so.

In this first post, we’ll be covering personalization and how you can use Orbee to enhance your website and marketing to make personalizing your presence in front of shoppers easier than ever.

Personalization in the Automotive Industry

Personalization on dealership websites is not something we see very often. Offers and specials displayed in banners on the site are fixed and need to be changed manually; advertisements showed off the dealership and their vehicles rather than the shopper’s interests; and even the landing pages used on the website were generic in which they usually directed visitors to the homepage of the website.

Personalization at its most basic implementation does not require much effort. Providing shoppers with a list of vehicles they’ve viewed when they re-visit, or welcoming them with “Welcome Back!” rather than “Welcome!” makes a difference and can be implemented easily. These types of changes show off simple ways to make a dealership’s website more welcoming and tailored to their experience when shopping for their next vehicle.

The ORB Element

We wanted to tackle the problem by providing an easy way to specify what and where you wanted Orbee to personalize your website. To do this, we needed an interface where dealerships can specify this to our script. We created an element, <orb>, to perform this function.

the most basic ORB element

The ORB element is a configurable element that clearly outlines the areas where Orbee’s plugins can augment a web page. We can only inject or edit content within an ORB element. This prevents us from changing anything on the website without the consent of our clients. As a result, clients can also control where Orbee manages content.

Personalization through Integration

To enrich our analytics, clients have been providing vehicle inventory to Orbee. We utilize this data to display which vehicles are viewed, rather than just which URLs are viewed. We also use this information to personalize dealership websites. Personalized plugins such as our Navigation Bar, Favorite Vehicles, and Shopper Retargeting can take advantage of this information and enhance the shopper experience.

On our script, we added a feature called “services” that can dynamically load in APIs based on different backend services required. For example, our personalization plugins can utilize our Vehicle Service to pull a list of the current shopper’s viewed vehicles to display however it chooses. This can be configured through our ORB elements or our plugins’ server-side configuration.

Customizing Implementations

Now that we can access our back-end services, we need to provide ways for our plugins to tailor their look and function to the websites they’re installed on. To resolve this, we created a data-attribute system to manage customized plugin configuration tied to our ORB Elements:

example ORB element with inline configuration

This system utilizes similar capabilities to CSS styling. We can have server-side configuration, as well as customized inline element configuration. If none of those configurations are provided, every plugin configuration variable will fallback to their default value. The final configuration is an amalgamation of the three, called the computed configuration. Through our plugin library, all levels of configuration are available to the plugin during instantiation.

how plugin configuration is computed

Future Development

We have now covered our core technical solutions for our on-site personalization plugins that make personalizing shopper experiences easier for our customers to implement. We are currently developing new plugins and display types so that we can provide a library of plugins for our clients to choose, tailor-able to their website.

Another feature we are developing are additional plugins that can use our ORB Element to wrap and alter existing content on the site, such as price slashing and welcome messages. This should enable better loading times and also provide intelligence to our plugins that help enhance websites.

In the next post, we will cover how integrating with Orbee’s back-end services can automate and simplify advertising for dealerships and their vendors.

Orbee Engineering

Stories about the technical aspects of our latest products and projects from Orbee Engineers

Nicholas Ambrosio

Written by

Physicist turned Programmer; Rock Climber; Tennis Fanatic

Orbee Engineering

Stories about the technical aspects of our latest products and projects from Orbee Engineers

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade