This afternoon Fast Search & Transfer and AutoTrader.com held a Webinar on how AutoTrader.com "is driving new product development, speeding time to market and improving customer satisfaction, by shifting from its proprietary search solution to one powered by FAST Enterprise Search technology."
Both of these companies are success stories. Founded in 1997, AutoTrader.com is the No. 1 online automotive classified advertising company with more 3.2 million cars and trucks listed for sale — half of all used cars sold in the U.S. — and more than 15 million in-market shoppers visiting the site each month. It is owned by Cox Enterprises, Manheim, AutoTrader, ADP, Kleiner Perkins and Landmark. From the beginning, AutoTrader.com was dependent on its Oracle search structure, which was built in-house. By 2003, it was getting 60 queries per second and expected a 10-fold increase in eight to 10 years. AutoTrader.com needed to replace its in-house system quickly and in a way that would improve the search experience and provide better results.
The solution was Norway’s Fast Search & Transfer, a company also founded in 1997. Its objective: "Merely satisfying our customers is not enough. We must delight them." It was clear from the presentation made by Rick MacConnell, director, enterprise architecture at AutoTrader.com, that FAST has succeeded in accomplishing this goal with AutoTrader.com. He gave a ringing endorsement for FAST's intelligent search process. "FAST was the solution for us … they were the only vendor that could meet our vehicle update needs.
Most impressive to me was that the company implemented the FAST solution in five months. Of equal importance, is that AutoTrader was willing to give a public testimonial about its important vendor. If a FAST executive had given this presentation, it wouldn't have had anywhere near the impact that Mr. MacConnell did. In fact, if there was anything wrong with this Webinar, it was that everything was hunky dory from start to finish. But, hey, these two companies got this marketing guy to listen to the solution to a technical problem, and they did it in an interesting and informative manner.