Australia’s used vehicle market has never been stronger, and Toyota saw an opportunity to reimagine how car buyers browse available vehicles. But first, the automotive giant needed to re-architect its existing marketplace – and that meant transforming the current tech stack to bring in composable microservices.

Toyota Australia’s Digital Architect Mathew Archibald joined Dataweavers WebOps’ CTO Piers Matthews during a breakout session at Sitecore DX 2023 Sydney to share just how far they’d come together in a year. The presentation showcased how quickly brands can realize the benefits of composable and headless – without having to put your foot on the transition accelerator.

A vehicle for change

Toyota Motor Corporation has been running several websites on Sitecore for eight years, including lexus.com.au, toyota.com.au, and various dealership sites. Toyota was now dealing with a monolithic architecture, with multiple agencies, partners, and internal development teams all struggling to keep up with the pace of marketing’s demands.

“We put together a digital roadmap, which aimed to shift to composable microservices so we could take advantage of the simplicity, flexibility, reuse, and speed of delivery,” explained Archibald. “We also wanted to be XM Cloud-ready, and that’s where Dataweavers has helped us.”

Piers Matthews said his team saw the opportunity to start fresh with a completely headless environment for the used vehicles project. “This provided the ability to introduce a hybrid state. We could run the old MVC and new headless sites in parallel, and adopt Sitecore’s new SaaS tools like OrderCloud and Discover,” he explained.

Toyota is now one year into what it expects to be a two- to three-year journey. One week before the Sitecore event in Sydney, Archibald’s team launched Toyota’s used vehicle marketplace, and the lexus.com.au site is already up and running on headless.

“Toyota is migrating step by step, moving its very large web properties into a headless world at a pace that makes sense to them. They can consolidate and ultimately turn off some of their MVC-style environments,” said Matthews.

3 levers on the journey to headless

Archibald took the attendees through three decision factors that shaped Toyota’s digital roadmap:

1. Make it fast
He described Docker for Developers as a ‘10x benefit’ for developers. “Sitecore 10’s adoption of Docker has been revolutionary for us. We’ve gone from taking a week to having a developer operational, to hours.”

2. Make it easy
Moving to monorepo gives developers a view across the Toyota and Lexus ecosystem, so it’s easy to share ideas, solutions, and components.

3. Make it reusable
With a new Component Library and Design System, developers can also reuse assets across Sitecore and non-Sitecore sites with a very simple Sitecore JSS wrapper.

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An operational foundation for growth

Now that Toyota’s digital teams no longer need to worry about DevOps, monitoring applications, or deployment, they can spend more time working with marketing on things that add real business value – like creating exceptional digital experiences.

The new headless, API-driven ecommerce platform is now being used to centralize inventory records from 250 dealers across Australia. “Commerce Cloud sets up the foundations for future possibilities and is a really strong base to grow from,” said Archibald. “We found OrderCloud to be super flexible, but you do need to design appropriately to get it right.”

Commerce Cloud sets up the foundations for future possibilities and is a really strong base to grow from. - Mathew Archibald, Toyota Motor Corporation

He also wanted a sophisticated product search and recommendation engine and found Discover fit the bill. “We’re just now getting live traffic into personalized results, and it’s super fast. It’s really outperformed all expectations on speed.”

Archibald’s top tip for those embarking on this journey is to use the time wisely.

“This is an opportunity to start fresh. It shouldn’t be a copy-paste exercise – clean up your information architecture, clean up your templates and renderings, come up with fresh ideas.”

He says you also need the operational functionality in place to support the old and new sites in tandem. Plus, it helps to have the support of Solutions Partners who can help simplify the ecosystem.

“There are thousands of decisions you have to make about how you’re going to set up a headless environment,” said Archibald. “With Sitecore XM Cloud and Dataweavers, they’ve made most of the decisions for us, so we can spend our time building experiences.”

He likened it to putting the rails up on a 10-pin bowling alley. “There are a lot more strikes that way. That’s what I want in a SaaS world.”

Matthews said Toyota is already seeing operational efficiencies and improved customer outcomes in this early stage of the transition.

“The marketing team can give customers new digital journeys, fast. It’s easier for Toyota to bring new developers on board, and they can focus on delivering outcomes for the business. Plus, composable microservices build agility down the track.”

Learn more about Sitecore XM Cloud to see how its cloud-native, composable architecture can take your brand to new heights delivering exceptional digital experiences for your customer.

Sophie Krokida is a Content Writer at Sitecore..