Case study

A bespoke auction platform for a thoroughbred horse trading startup


Wanamaker’s, a prestigious thoroughbred horse auction house, sought to blend the thrill of live auctions with the digital ease of online bidding. Our mission was to engineer a cutting-edge bidding platform that encapsulated the essence of live auction excitement while introducing the convenience and accessibility of online interactions. This hybrid platform was envisioned to not only broaden Wanamaker's reach but to redefine the bidding experience for its discerning clientele.


We embarked on an immersive discovery phase to learn from international competitors and identify areas of improvement for creating a better user experience for buyers, sellers, and industry experts. The objective was to build a modern, dependable, and user-friendly platform with a robust content management system (CMS) and powerful real-time bidding software that would propel Wanamaker's to the forefront of the online horse auction industry.

The Wanamaker's brand is modern and refined, so the website design needed to reflect its sophistication while increasing its credibility as a newcomer to the market. We carefully chose the type selection and color scheme to ensure readability and convey the brand values that Wanamaker's embodies. The design was inspired by mid-century prestige, featuring tan orange with light cream leather, contrasted with a dark, classical navy.


The main catalog page was designed with active filters, optional grid, list, and map views, and optimized for reader scannability. Horse buyers needed to track open and close times and prices with ease. The single horse listing page displayed all the vital information a buyer might need, weighted by importance—type, sex, breed, heritage, photos, videos, mapped location, clear description, pedigree information, and race history. Real-time bid information was displayed in a fixed panel to the right, allowing buyers to make informed value judgments on bids quickly.

For auction power users and consigners, we designed a quick modal shortlist of all the horses a buyer was watching, with the ability to bid inline on any page of the site. Interface elements were designed to be breathable, spacious, and communicative, countering the typical online auction experience of cramped, outdated UI with a calm, modest interface.

Email notifications played a critical role in the user experience. We hand-coded email templates to match the Wanamakers brand, ensuring they contained the right information needed for buyers and sellers without overwhelming them.

Building the auction platform from scratch was a considerable undertaking. We developed a custom Laravel, Nuxt, and Stripe platform for high-concurrency, low-latency bidding, setting a performance benchmark for the system of 10,000 active bidders within 100ms of each other with no discernible lag. Websockets was a foundational technology in meeting this metric, with bids updating near-instantaneously even at scale.

We modeled and tested highly complex bidding scenarios for months to ensure the Wanamakers platform would be flawless, balanced, and fair at all times. The platform was built using websockets on Laravel with a Nuxt JS frontend and Tailwind CSS for the UI elements.


The Wanamaker's website and bidding platform was built and launched within a six-month production cycle, attracting more customers every month. Their first online auction took place in June 2020, where they successfully listed and sold prominent thoroughbred racing horses. The platform continues to gain momentum, solidifying Wanamaker's position in the online horse auction industry.


We used the following technologies on this project to ensure reliability and performance at every step, accounting for future platform stability and developer support, uptime and reliability ratings and a host of other factors. Read more about the technologies

Kind words

"Magnet web design agency is an exceptional partner and asset to my co-founder and I's business. Our business is dependent on the technology behind it and Magnet has been there from the start to ensure our website and the operations related to it are seamless and effective. Working with Gavin, Sarah, and their team is enjoyable and rewarding with the results they are able to achieve."

Jack Carlino