Supercharging Enterprise WordPress with Mecum Auctions

In this episode of the WordPress Edge podcast, we dive into the Mecum Auction Company’s brand-new large-scale enterprise WordPress solution. Our host, Landon DePasquale, is joined by Cade Cannon, Director of IT for Mecum. Hear expert insight into the transformative journey the company went through and the role WordPress plays in enhancing its online presence.

 

What is the Mecum Auction Company? 

Mecum Auctions is a dynamic collector car auction company, conducting 14 to 16 events annually across the Continental United States. With a remarkable throughput of 20,000 to 30,000 cars each year, Mecum stands out as a consignment auction platform. Consignors entrust their vehicles to the auction, creating a vibrant and fast-paced environment. The company's prominence extends to a television show on Motortrend TV, adding to its excitement. 

The Role of a Consignor in the Auction Process

At Mecum Auctions, consigning a vehicle involves the owner bringing their vehicle to the auction company. While Mecum doesn't own the vehicles, they facilitate the sale on behalf of the consignor or customer, aiming to secure the highest possible value for the car. Cade clarifies that the consignment process entails leveraging the auction platform's expertise to maximize returns for vehicle owners. This explanation sheds light on the crucial role consignors play in entrusting their vehicles to Mecum Auctions for effective and profitable sales.

Personal Insights on the Unique Experience of Working at Mecum Auctions

For Cade, the daily experience of working in an office surrounded by multimillion-dollar collector cars in Walworth, Wisconsin, is nothing short of amazing. The building itself, filled with the coolest collector cars, provides a unique backdrop to his everyday life. Cade describes the top-notch, rare cars as a regular sight, making encounters with ordinary cars on the streets seem mundane in comparison. Despite becoming somewhat accustomed, the atmosphere remains exciting and intriguing, offering a daily immersion into the world of extraordinary and awe-inspiring vehicles at Mecum Auctions.

What Does Mecum Auction?

Mecum Auctions extends beyond cars, showcasing a diverse range of items. In addition to automobiles, they auction motorcycles, boats, and what they term as "road art." This intriguing category encompasses collectibles like vintage signs, memorabilia, petroleum-related items, and even old gas station pumps. Cade highlights the fascinating segment of selling not just vehicles but also unique and nostalgic artifacts, making Mecum Auctions a comprehensive platform for a wide array of items with historical and collectible significance.

How Does Mecum Build and Maintain its User Base?

Mecum Auctions has successfully cultivated a highly engaged user base around its live auctions and Motortrend television show. Cade describes Mecum's pride in the lively and entertaining nature of their in-person auctions. The fast-paced, exciting events, coupled with engaging auctioneers, captivate both buyers and spectators, creating a palpable atmosphere of excitement. Cade emphasizes that the thrill extends beyond car enthusiasts, as Mecum Auctions offer an engaging experience for everyone, whether buying, selling, or simply enjoying the lively ambiance. The strategy has resulted in an enthusiastic community, reflecting the success of Mecum's approach to making auctions an entertaining and inclusive event.

Mecum Auctions Web Design and Development Project

Mecum Auctions pursued a website rebuild with Americaneagle.com due to the success of their existing site, which garnered millions of monthly page views. The decision stemmed from a desire to alleviate manual work for the development team and empower the marketing team to autonomously create and promote content in the digital landscape. A key priority was enabling scalability to handle substantial traffic without the need for frequent server and infrastructure adjustments. Cade emphasizes the strategic focus on enhancing the website's functionality and efficiency to align with evolving business needs and user expectations.

Goals and Expectations of the Revamped Website

Discussions around the ROI of Mecum Auctions' website rebuild revolved around transforming the existing catalog-style site into a dynamic platform that effectively sold the brand and engaged users. The goal was to capture the excitement of live auction events online, fostering conversions in terms of more bidders, ticket buyers, and consignments. Cade emphasized the need to translate the thrill of auctions into digital experiences that drive business growth. Additionally, the focus was on enhancing user engagement by providing a premium listing for high-end lots, ensuring an improved and captivating experience on the revamped website.

The Decision to Use Enterprise WordPress for the Website Rebuild

Mecum Auctions strategically chose WordPress for the website rebuild due to its widespread usability and the availability of skilled professionals familiar with the platform. Cade highlights the advantage of tapping into a talent pool of marketers and content writers already experienced with WordPress. The decision aimed to eliminate the learning curve, enabling immediate utilization of talent in Walworth, Wisconsin, where finding skilled individuals is a challenge. WordPress emerged as a practical choice, aligning with Mecum Auctions' goal of seamlessly integrating talent and leveraging a user-friendly platform to meet their business objectives effectively.

Mecum Auction’s Enterprise Tech Stack

WordPress is a crucial component in Mecum Auctions' technology stack, addressing concerns about effective scalability. To overcome scalability challenges, Mecum implemented a headless WordPress approach using Verso as the frontend. This allowed horizontal scaling without the need for vertical scaling. The headless architecture enables seamless integration of data from various sources, facilitating the display of hundreds of thousands of lots on the website without the need for extensive server resources. The combination of WordPress and other modern technologies enhances Mecum Auctions' ability to handle vast amounts of data and provide a dynamic user experience.

Addressing Specific Challenges and Objectives

In the early conversations around rebuilding the website, Mecum Auctions focused on overcoming challenges from the old site, where the development team exclusively handled changes. Cade emphasized the need for a new approach that empowered the marketing team. Previous systems were disparate and lacked centralized control. The shift to a medium.com platform enabled the marketing team to independently build and optimize content for SEO, marking a significant improvement. The discussions centered on creating a website where marketing had autonomy, diverging from the past reliance on the development team for page creation and content updates.

The Transformative Impact of WordPress for Mecum’s Marketing Team

WordPress marked a paradigm shift for Mecum Auctions, granting the marketing team unprecedented ownership and control over the website. Cade acknowledges the initial challenge of adapting to this newfound power. However, once the marketing team realized they could independently implement new features and initiatives without relying on the development team's backlog, a significant transformation occurred. WordPress became the catalyst for autonomy, enabling the marketing team to swiftly and effectively execute tasks without dependencies, streamlining the process of implementing new ideas and campaigns on the website.

Gaining Executive Buy-In for the Website Rebuild Project

Cade engaged the leadership team in discussions emphasizing the visual aspects of the website rebuild. The executive team, being visually oriented, was presented with comprehensive mockups showcasing desired features such as personalization, advanced search capabilities, improved listing and auction pages, and an enhanced homepage. Demonstrating the parallels with familiar consumer experiences, like personalized suggestions on Amazon, helped secure buy-in for key functionalities. The strategy of translating concepts into tangible visuals proved effective in garnering support from the leadership team, paving the way for the substantial project of revamping the website.

Mecum’s Partnership with Website Agency Americaneagle.com

Balancing the website rebuild with other IT initiatives proved challenging for Mecum Auctions, given their small development team and multiple ongoing projects. To address this, Cade opted for a strategic partnership with Americaneagle.com. This collaboration allowed them to offload the website rebuild, ensuring immediate progress and freeing internal resources for core company functions. The decision to engage a partner like Americaneagle.com was pivotal, facilitating a symbiotic relationship that accelerated the project and prevented it from becoming a prolonged, perpetual endeavor. Cade emphasized the importance of such collaborations to maintain momentum and prevent projects from lingering indefinitely.

Addressing Apprehensions and Challenges Throughout the Project

Approaching the website rebuild at Mecum Auctions, Cade grappled with significant concerns. Foremost was the apprehension about having sufficient internal resources to support the project. Additionally, the marketing team's unfamiliarity with utilizing such solutions raised worries. Security was a paramount concern, given the potential vulnerabilities associated with WordPress. Cade expressed the common fears related to maintaining and securing the website. Collaborating with Americaneagle.com, they navigated these challenges, emphasizing the importance of addressing security, maintainability, and team adaptation during the intricate process of building a new and sophisticated website architecture.

Mecum’s Tech Stack: The Role of Salesforce and Algolia within WordPress

Mecum Auctions' architecture involves intricate coordination among Salesforce, Algolia, and WordPress, forming a seamless and scalable system. To address historical issues of multiple data sources, Salesforce emerged as the central hub, ensuring a single source of truth, particularly for lots and auctions. While the system's complexity is undeniable, it efficiently scales and maintains security. The integration of Salesforce, Algolia, and WordPress not only resolves previous challenges but significantly enhances scalability and maintainability compared to the prior website architecture. This strategic alignment ensures a cohesive and efficient operation, marked by improved data consistency and a streamlined technological landscape.

Positive Outcomes of Mecum’s Website Rebuild

The website rebuild for Mecum Auctions brought several notable wins and features, addressing critical needs and enhancing the user experience. A significant focus was on refining the lot detail pages, ensuring consignors had polished views of their cars, adding substantial value. The incorporation of high-quality photography showcased cars in all their glory, offering customers a captivating experience. The search process underwent a transformative improvement, leveraging Algolia to facilitate easy navigation through hundreds of thousands of records. This enhancement allowed customers to efficiently find upcoming lots, filter by specific categories, and explore detailed car attributes, contributing to a more personalized and engaging platform.

Among the successes of the revamped website, a notable achievement was the significant reduction in time to market for consignments. Streamlining processes and leveraging Salesforce, the team could swiftly publish new lots with a press of a button, ensuring quick online presence. This improvement eliminated previous import processes, accelerating the publishing of information and photos on the web. The seamless integration between Salesforce, Algolia search, and WordPress contributed to a more efficient and responsive platform, ultimately enhancing Mecum Auctions' ability to showcase new consignments promptly and effortlessly.

Promotional graphic for Americaneagle.com Studios featuring a quote by Cade Cannon, IT Director at Mecum Auctions, about efficient online photo publishing.

 

Insight for Leaders Considering WordPress for Their Enterprise Website Needs

For leaders considering WordPress, Cade emphasizes its user-friendly nature, widely adopted across the web, minimizing training efforts for new hires. The platform's scalability, especially in a headless implementation, addresses concerns about handling growth seamlessly. Hosting on WordPress VIP enhances security and alleviates maintenance challenges, sparing valuable resources for more impactful tasks. Cade's experience highlights the value of leveraging WordPress for its accessibility, scalability, and managed hosting solutions, emphasizing the importance of focusing on activities that truly add value to the business rather than routine maintenance tasks.

Future Growth of Mecum Auctions and its Digital Presence

Mecum Auctions envisions a future with millions of page views and users, prioritizing customer service. The focus is on enhancing the website to deliver a personalized experience with Algolia-driven recommendations, akin to platforms like Amazon. The goal is to simplify user interaction, providing tailored suggestions and notifications, fostering a seamless and customer-centric online environment. Mecum aspires to evolve towards a sophisticated online marketplace, ensuring users effortlessly discover desired content and receive timely updates, aligning with modern e-commerce experiences, and emphasizing continuous improvement for enhanced customer satisfaction.

Cade’s Dream Car

Cade's dream car may not be a personal aspiration, but a standout moment for him was the Porsche 911 from the movie "Bad Boys." Sold at a Mecum auction, the car's cultural significance, associated with the film and director Michael Bay, made it memorable. Despite its million-dollar sale, Cade expressed a connection to the iconic vehicle and the cinematic memories it evoked. His dream car, if finances allowed, would be the Porsche 911 from "Bad Boys," emphasizing the profound impact that certain automobiles, viewed as works of art, can have on enthusiasts.

Unique Items Sold at Mecum Auctions

Among the plethora of unique items witnessed at Mecum, one standout was the neon sign from The Big Lebowski's Star Lanes bowling alley. Cade highlighted this odd and fascinating piece of memorabilia, recalling its auction at the June road art auction in Walworth. The neon sign, featured in iconic scenes from the movie, was eventually sold. The experience of seeing this quirky and recognizable item on the auction block added to the diverse array of fascinating artifacts that pass through Mecum's doors.

 

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About: The WordPress Edge podcast is the ultimate destination for professionals looking to harness the power of WordPress for large-scale enterprise solutions. In each episode, our host and expert guests explore the latest techniques, tools, and strategies for optimizing and scaling WordPress to meet the demands of modern businesses. From architectural guidance to marketing insights and everything in between, The WordPress Edge covers everything you need to know to get the most out of your WordPress enterprise solution. Whether you're a business leader, marketer, or someone with a passion for WordPress, join us on The WordPress Edge as we explore the cutting edge of WordPress at scale.

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About Author

Podcast producer at Americaneagle.com
Bryan Winger is a Podcast Producer with Americaneagle.com. He began his career in broadcasting back in Minnesota, producing for several radio stations and syndicated shows throughout the Twin Cities. He has over 5 years of experience in the broadcasting industry, before joining the team at Americaneagle.com. He enjoys playing golf and hockey, watching football on Sundays, and producing music for fun.


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