Experiential and immersive technologies will drive the future of modern Indian real estate
Over the past few years, the real estate sector has been thinking about expanding digital capabilities, integrating more innovations across the value chain, and incentivising wider application of technologies.
Despite repetitive attempts, the Indian real estate sector (and its global counterparts) largely remained offline, where face-to-face discussions and interactions with sales executives and site inspections remained a pivotal element.
The digital initiatives mostly remained enclosed within boardroom discussions, yet seldom could they find a real-world application.
But as they say, crisis is the mother of all invention, and COVID-19 has finally forced everyone to think digitally. The pandemic is not just a medical challenge, but it is going to drastically alter the way business is done so far.
The mandatory lockdown in most of the parts of the world, including India, rendered existing marketing channels ineffective, and there was no other way but to go digital.
Like other sectors, real estate also actively embraced the digital medium and started upgrading online capabilities. Most of the realtors used existing ingenious tools such as virtual meeting software, tele-conferencing, and webinars to market and sell properties.
Though a knee jerk reaction in the face of the crisis, the endeavours were met with success. Probably the use of technology enabled some momentum and arrested any steep decline. This is further giving impetus to think and act digitally.
Time for digital transformation
After the coronavirus lockdown was eased in most parts of India, things have gradually started coming back to normal. Yet, social distancing is here to stay. People are avoiding crowded gatherings and physical meetings.
In such a situation marked by curtailing of physical interaction, digital would not just be one of the channels of marketing, but rather will be the prime channel to depend upon.
Realtors are not left with any option but to adapt to the new normal where digital will be a crucial element to drive all the major interactions. It is imperative to fast track digital transformation and build the required infrastructure.
Immersive and experiential technologies will be key
In a post-COVID world, the focus can’t be limited to just realising operational efficiency but also on making bigger impacts digitally in a relatively shorter time. The winning mantra will be to build immersive technologies and offer powerful experiences.
To put it straight, being virtual would not just focus on replicating a real-world experience, but to offer a much larger value.
When it comes to customers, they always have inherent inertia. Consequently, they will be slow to ride the digital curve and adopt new technologies. To break this inertia and modulate wider behavioural changes, it is important to give them the magic moments and memorable personalised experiences. Only then a faster adoption can be expected.
To actualise it, realtors need to think a bit about the emotional dimensions as well and develop high value, original, and engaging products and platforms.
It is important to realise that real estate has largely been an offline business, and to spur wider and faster adoption of technologies, it is essential to give customers magic moments and memorable personalised experiences.
For instance, take the case of digital events. Across the world, real estate events are a multi-billion dollar business.
In a post-COVID world, major developers and advisories will take the event to a virtual platform to drive transactions and generate leads. However, can just going digital and conducting a vanilla type event to push sales serves the purpose? Probably not!
What is required is to build an online event platform that can offer a much better experience and render practical value to the customers.
This will require progressive and out-of-the-box thinking to develop engaging user interfaces, easy navigation facilities, effective addressing of customer queries alongside offering actionable and transparent insights to make decisions. Only meticulous strategising, blended with an artistic touch, can make it happen.
Online events cannot just be another sales tactic to create a unidirectional flow of information. Rather, it has to create an immersive and experience-based approach that can nurture deeper and better interaction with customers.
The strategic implications
In devising the experience-based digital customer journey, realtors also need to think about the long-term strategic implications. The digital transformation, although having been expedited by the current COVID crisis, has a much deeper long-term undertone.
An intelligently designed digital journey can take customer engagement through the roof, and hence positively boost the overall top-line, profitability, and brand visibility of the organisation.
Likewise, it can boost marketing, shorter the sales cycle, and streamline the operational flow, thereby boosting sales without any increase in the overheads.
However, to make it happen, there is a pressing need to make captivating digital strategies and integrate them seamlessly throughout the customer life cycle management.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)