COVID-19 catalysing digitisation and redefining sales & marketing strategies in Indian real estate

September 09, 2021 2:28 PM

The COVID-19 pandemic has unlocked tremendous opportunities for the real estate ecosystem to devise out-of-the-box solutions to develop user-friendly interfaces, easy navigation and prompt redressal of customer queries and grievances online.

The pandemic has catalysed digitisation by creating a sense of urgency in the real estate ecosystem to adopt technology on a wider scale.

Ubiquitous internet connectivity, proliferation of smart devices and advancements in technology have provided a fillip to digitisation in the past few years. Indian real estate stands on the cusp of digital transformation that has further gained momentum during COVID-19. While realty websites and social media presence have been around for a few years, most real estate transactions took place offline, such as site visits and face-to-face meetings in the pre-COVID era.

Homebuyers used websites and social media sparingly and primarily for obtaining the developer’s credentials. Digitisation has unlocked new opportunities for developers and brokers to rethink and redesign their product and service offerings by revisiting their drawing boards while incorporating homebuyers’ preference in the ‘new normal’.

The lockdown restrictions amid COVID-19 in 2020 prompted real estate developers to shift to an online mode of operations to sustain the momentum. COVID-19 has catalysed digitisation by creating a sense of urgency in the real estate ecosystem to adopt technology on a wider scale. Since then, technology has emerged as a panacea to stay connected with customers, build a strong brand recall across digital media, enhance efficiency and boost the customer experience. A CBRE survey highlights that over 90 per cent of the occupiers and developers aim to digitise their business operations within the next five years.

Here are some next-generation technologies and tools redefining the real estate landscape.

Mobile apps and online buying platforms

Developers are increasingly using next-generation tools such as mobile apps and online buying platforms that serve as a one-stop solution for accessing the information on their credentials, offerings, price, configuration, etc. The seamless navigation and simple user interface are the hallmarks of such mobile apps that provide ‘on-the-go access to information. Online platforms serve as a great medium to connect buyers and sellers. Customers can also preview and book their properties on mobile apps and online platforms.

Virtual Reality and AI-powered chatbots

Emerging technologies such as Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality are being used to showcase their premium offerings and stimulate the physical experience of the project site. Amid customer-centricity gaining currency, AI-powered chatbots are being used to offer 24×7 assistance and nurture relationship with prospective customers through personalised services.

Video-conferencing and market listings

Videoconferencing via Zoom and Skype is an enabler to closing the sales loop virtually. Market listings with remote views, webinars and 360O virtual walkthroughs without physical interaction and site verification have also become powerful tools to inform customers of their ‘work-in-progress’ and showcase the completed projects.

Social media

While digitising their platforms, developers are also leveraging social media to engage customers and generate leads for their business. Social media also helps developers to understand the pulse of their target audience and address their queries, feedback and grievances in real-time. Building a robust social media presence also boosts their recall across platforms and monitor brand conversations.

Remote Working

The adoption of flexible work models has necessitated the scaling up of investment in cloud technology and data security to foster collaboration among remote workforce across scattered geographies. Early adopters among the developer community who provide a superior post-crisis experience will maintain their competitive edge.

Digitisation has led to savings in time and resources besides enhancing credibility, transparency and accountability in real estate. It has also facilitated data-driven and informed decision-making and redefined the focus towards cost-effectiveness and realigning preferences in line with customers’ expectations. Consequently, organised players with sound credentials and excellent track record will invariably command an edge over their peers in the post-COVID era.

Opportunities and Way Forward

The COVID-19 pandemic has unlocked tremendous opportunities for the real estate ecosystem to devise out-of-the-box solutions to develop user-friendly interfaces, easy navigation and prompt redressal of customer queries and grievances online.

Taking a cue from the impact of digitisation, there is now a need to focus on curating experiential reality platforms as part of the broader digital transformation strategy to nurture deep relationships with customers. An intelligently conceptualised digital journey can maximise customer engagement, enhance brand visibility and impact the bottom line of real estate businesses. Emerging technologies such as data analytics, Artificial Intelligence can furnish strategic insights into consumer behaviour and demographics and facilitate the deployment of real-time solutions to prevent unplanned downtime. Digitisation can also bolster marketing efforts, shorten the sales cycle and streamline operations without increasing overhead costs.

The COVID-19 crisis did cause disruption; it has redefined the realty landscape through digitisation and rethinking of sales and communication strategies.

(By Ashok Kapur, Chairman, Krisumi Corporation)

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