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UFS Auto races ahead with Syncrony-built website

UFS Auto, a specialised importer/exporter of low-use Japanese vehicles, has entered the online vehicle space by engaging Syncrony to fully establish a winning online presence.

Africa-focused UFS Auto has been in business, based out of the Port of Durban for the past ten years. It has expanded its African footprint with the addition of a car sales website, built by Syncrony, one of the leading Johannesburg-based e-commerce and software development specialists.

The website will now become the main thrust of UFS Auto’s business model, which is to import quality, end-of-lease vehicles from Japan into Africa. Selling cars from an online-store platform is a lot more complicated than the normal online-shopping process of loading some items into a shopping cart and then checking out.

A major part of the customisation required, was the development of functionality to allow for vehicles to be selected from different locations, using different currencies, time zones as well as localised transport and logistics factors.

Howard Rybko, CEO of Syncrony, explained that there were many “not-so-obvious” complications involved in customising the back-end and front-end of the Magento website to handle importing and selling vehicle for UFS Auto.

‘Technically, many base Magento components had to be touched up and moulded to fit the new purpose, especially because you cannot “checkout and courier” a car in the same way you would purchase goods at the normal Magento website. UFS Auto’s solution was to present their vehicles for sale in various African countries and then to add a custom quote process at the checkout phase.

‘This custom quote would deliver a quote to the prospective buyer in the appropriate local currency, with the relevant delivery and tax surcharges listed. This results in a prospect having an accurate quote for a vehicle purchase, which can then be settled “out of band”,’ explained Rybko.

Out-of-band payments, which are similar to EFTs, will be supplemented by an international payment gateway sometime in the near future. Buying and selling can be facilitated, irrespective of COVID-19 status and lockdown conditions.

Founder and CEO of UFS Auto, Usman Fatharally has over ten years’ experience within the automobile industry. The website upgrade and service from Syncrony is part of Fatharally’s e-commerce strategy specifically targeted at assisting customers as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc with the economy.

‘It is by no means a run-of-the-mill website as it has to handle currencies, quote requests, proper pricing and payments,’ said Rybko.

Syncrony mobilised its technical expertise and market knowledge to handle every challenge the project threw at them. The fact that there was no check-out was a significant obstacle stated Rybko. ‘Prices are specific to the precise location of an individual and which border post they want to make use of. It was more complicated by the fact that there are regular buyers. In other words clients have profiles on the site and these have to be presented, along with purchasing history etc.’

Syncrony also installed a loyalty program to incentivise regular buyers. In addition to these “bells and whistles”, Syncrony also customised the look and feel of the site to accentuate specialised features of the vehicles on sale. A major part of these look and feel changes were related to vehicle specific buyer requirements such as displaying relevant features related to each vehicle, like air conditioning, mag wheels, sun roofs etc.

These features can be set by administrative staff either by bulk stock sheet import or individually in the Magento back-end. ‘Additionally, the image capability was widened to accommodate up to thirty images per vehicle,’ continued Rybko.

Syncrony is responsible for the maintenance of the site and will soon engage its client for phase two and the incorporation of extra functionality.

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