When we talk about digitization across the various sectors, we know that it started long ago. We can say that the process accelerated due to the Covid-19 situation where we have faced worldwide lockdown. The Real Estate sector has been utilizing digital tools for a better marketing experience for the past couple of years, but relatively, we can also say that adoption across the sector was extremely limited. The companies who deployed the digital tools and utilized the analytics for marketing and remarketing have floated through difficult times.
To understand how real-estate stalwarts are lining up digital strategies to overcome these sudden hurdles, we invited Dr. Niranjan Hiranandani, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Hiranandani Group of Companies, and Mr. Apurva Salarpuria, Salarpuria Sattva Group, at one of our #DigitalSuccess Dialogue episodes.
Rise of Digitisation in Real Estate Sector
The upsurge of digitisation occurred due to the ongoing pandemic. In the real estate sector and across various sectors, digitization is considered as an antidote to the crisis. The recent outbreak of COVID-19 has also given rise to social distancing norms, which stalled the daily business operations. Thus, the WFH concept took the front seat and became trendy during this unprecedented period. Dr. Hiranandani shared that the rise of the WFH concept has given rise to the residential sector’s demand, where families are demanding larger homes for their unique working space.
He further added his view on leveraging social media platforms to re-define marketing strategies, “Adoption of social media platforms has effectively generated leads and later converted them into sales. A couple of listed real estate companies have also observed 40 to 50 per cent of digital sales during the lockdown period.
Agreeing with Dr. Hiranandani, Apurva further shared his perspective towards digitization. From the macro point of view, Apurva considers digital as a “way of functioning.” Digitization has a multi-level impact, such as the business model level, product level, and process level.
New concepts such as co-living and co-working have emerged at a business model level. In contrast, the WFH concept has re-designed the spaces by including office space for working family members. “The significant change that I felt in the pandemic is the ‘mindset’. Customers are willing to engage on a zoom call or any virtual platform. Change in the mindset towards digital is the most significant change that we have seen during the pandemic.” Apurva further added that real estate sectors are also building capabilities as per evolving mindset.
Balancing Between Rising residential Sector and Decreasing Commercial Sector
As per Dr. Hiranandani, commercial, residential, and GDP are tangled together. The pandemic of 2020 has forced the GDP rate to slip below, which has exacerbated the commercial sector’s situation. But, the stalwarts are hopeful about 2021, where numbers have the potential to grow. The commercial sector in real estate has always been skewed and volatile. Impact on GDP and overseas investment affect the industry profoundly.
Balancing between both can come when realtors can value society’s quality where the customers will stay. “The Flight to Quality and Safety” is observed among customer’s priority lists, and RERA’s regularisation is also ensuring only the quality players remain in the market. 2021 is viewed as bullish!
Advanced Technology leveraged to Engage
Technology advancement is taking place not only among realtors but also among the regulators. RERA or localized registration offices are going digital. Vast repositories of data on inventory are helping realtors understand the status of the projects. Further analyzing the data helps them forecast and decide the upcoming projects according to their evolving needs and lifestyle. Dr. Hiranandani added, “Usage and accessibility of data will improve substantially, and I think across various touchpoints such as planning for projects, we will use it more. So, in the next two years, that is something which will see a dramatic shift.”
Apurva also shared that leveraging social media platforms has also increased the transparency level. Access to the technology has become easier than before, and hence it is no longer a privilege to the larger players in the real estate sectors. Thus, benefitting the smaller players too. Utilizing and leveraging various advanced technologies such as blockchain technology, augmented reality, and chatbots also help smaller players build a niche in their localized area by creating quality products in a smaller fashion as per the local needs.
Talking along similar lines, Abhishek Rungta, CEO of INT. (Indus Net Technologies), further added his thoughts from the technology business’s perspective “Digital is critical for business and not anymore a fancy thing. It has become a necessity, and adoption has increased and will increase further in the future. Customer delight is a leading objective among companies. Also, virtual reality is being used aggressively by realtors, further, analytics ensures the maintenance of the facility.”
The underlying objective of going digital
Digitization is not used for reducing the marketing cost but for precise prospect targeting. Realtors are using it to enhance customer experience by delivering customized messages with personalization.
Dr. Hiranandani shared his view on market expansion due to digitization, “Nobody visits the regulator, and everything is registered online so are the complaints. Even the govt approval process has started to take place online. So, you can see a full-scale digital adoption. From a consumer perspective, they are getting much more information about the product through digital than they used to get. It has become more transparent through social media and blogs”.
Though advanced techs are present in the market, developers are yet to utilize it at full scale. He further added, “Need of digital information is important to understand the customer and fit the product as per the market need. The future looks only the digital way, and at this point, developers are partially achieving it”
Nationwide lockdown impedes daily business functions, and when WFH came into the picture, many companies indulged in cutting down the real estate expenses. Full-scale digitization across various sectors need secured data, high network, and agile facilities. Service companies and many others might still lack the required infrastructure; thus, going digital at full scale is still not feasible as an option. Though the WFH concept is a new trend, we will always require commercial space for our corporate life. A hybrid model where digital will be adopted as precise marketing strategies and traditional marketing keeps the personalization factor. Realtors are re-imagining by re-defining their actions.