The Covid-19 crisis has taken all of us by surprise, disrupting livelihoods, commerce and working environments all around the world. It wouldn’t be entirely wrong to say that the coronavirus pandemic has cornered us into taking a detour from normalcy as we knew it.
Time and again, brands have banked upon digital platforms to redefine customer experience and emerge with an even stronger brand presence. 24th March 2020, a nationwide lockdown for 21 days, marked the day that prompted businesses to put the pedal to the metal and pick up speed across digital channels.
Slumping Economies, Plunging GDPs & Booming Digital
In the face of an unprecedented threat, businesses everywhere inevitably met a long, uncertain halt. But with a large number of migrants moving to their homes from the cities, real estate, an industry where site visits are imperative, has been hit the worst.
After witnessing a growth of 6% y-o-y last year, the real estate market in India was pacing up when the sudden Covid-19 outbreak accounted for plummeting walk-ins by 30%-50% in the initial weeks of March 2020 and resulted in a fast decline and curtailed sales.
Digital technologies, on the other hand, have seen a tremendous surge as businesses across verticals are pinning their hopes on digital to communicate. Given the current scenario, brands have begun shifting base to build an enriching experience for customers, and realty is no exception given the fact that a majority of customers are inquiring, connecting, and even closing deals online.
Sahil Chopra, CEO, iCubesWire, says, “Digital stands for deeper and concentrated engagement even in the times of COVID-19. Online marketing solutions have been around for long and have played a crucial role in building engagement for many brands across verticals. While we have been creating marketing assets for real estate developers actively, COVID-19 has added an impetus in the reach of existing marketing strategies. With more and more stakeholders leveraging digital innovations such as 3D walkthroughs, videos, and AI integrated chatbots to bolster their brand’s image, we are going all out to design technology-led digital solutions to benefit developers by bringing about transparency and invoking better investor confidence.”
Sachin Suri, Head, Digital & Performance Marketing, M3M India Pvt Ltd, says, “We are not new to digital. In fact, we were one of the early adopters of the platform. It is only now that traditional marketing players have acknowledged the efficiency of this medium. However, it’s time for us to experiment with digital and innovate how we communicate as the current global scenario has led to more people embracing digital.”
Vineet Nanda, Director, New Projects at India Sotheby’s International Realty, is of similar view. He says, “It’s a period of change and transformation we are moving towards. Trust, Transparency and Technology are the key drivers. Digital technology is not new; we have been using it within our company, India Sotheby’s International Realty and also with our customers effectively. The addition is that we will embrace it even more and more across the spectrum. Customers have accepted digital technology and it’s on their mind by choice now. From where we work to how we work from home, the pandemic has radically altered interactions but digital has kept us engaged and in business”.
Re-innovating Digital for Realty
All thanks to Digital Innovation, in times like these contactless doorstep deliveries ensure all our needs and wants are met in time without exerting too much effort.
Initially, what started as a brand-building exercise has now transformed into the new and normal way of doing business for the real estate industry. In an effort to encourage social distancing and business continuity, many real estate developers are confiding in new-age digital technologies and are building marketing assets online. This has nudged developers to introduce different digital elements like 360° virtual tours, website visits, webinars, etc. to bolster engagement. Digital is now opening up the world for prospective buyers from virtual tours to exploring other things like floor plan, interiors, and the view from the balcony, all in one place.
“Digital transformation simplifies the otherwise complex and time-taking process of buying and selling. Going virtual paves the way for improved targeting and offers hassle-free connectivity with potential buyers, and, in turn, closes deals effectively,” says, Ankush Kaul, President – Sales & Marketing, Ambience Group.
Adding further, Siddharth Mall, AGM Marketing, Hero Realty Pvt. Ltd, says, “While the whole nation is practicing social distancing to combat COVID-19, it’s vital to have a technology effectively communicating via the digital platform and creating a perfect crisscross between the online and offline experiences for both consumers and imminent prospects. While the buying experience would take place online including zeroing in on the project, challenge would come in during closing and registering a sale online.”
Adapting & Adopting
The coronavirus pandemic has acted as a catalyst for digital in the Indian real estate market. Realty developers are both adapting and adopting by accelerating the transition to online platforms.
Rajat Khandelwal, President, Central Park, says, “The current scenario has directed businesses towards taking a digital course. We are looking forward to augmenting our digital initiatives across platforms as customers now have a greater propensity to engage online, and partners are thinking of advanced innovation to connect with potential prospects.”