Digital transformation in the real estate industry
In the last few years, digital transformation has been adopted by most of the commercial industries including the real estate industry. Compared to the retail industry, the real estate industry is more complicated as both online and offline services play indispensable roles in the customer journey.
A decade ago, most of the potential homebuyers and owners walked into branches of real estate agencies directly to start the journey. However, in the past five to six years, more customers changed their behaviour to start their journey via online channels. Our digital platforms became a crucial element for doing business. According to our survey, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the proportion of homebuyers that started their purchase journey on our digital platforms has increased to more than 50% already.
Online traffic doubled under COVID-19
COVID-19 speeds up the trend of digital transformation of both agents and customers significantly. Back in the days when Hong Kong suffered the most from the pandemic in mid-2020, our digital platforms played an important role to sustain our business. We launched our revamped app in early 2020 to digitalise more steps in the customer journey. For instance, users can search their properties in a more precise way and view the properties from more perspectives including VR and influencer videos to know more about the apartments. Also, homeowners can list their properties for sale entirely through our online platform. In 2020, the number of visits to our online platform doubled compared to 2019.
Undoubtedly, VR is the key technology to bringing changes to us and customers. It significantly saves time for customers and agents as the former can view all the targeted properties first and then screen out more desired ones before on-site visits. In addition, some homeowners do not prefer buyers to visit their properties especially during the pandemic. With VR technology, they can film their properties and let potential buyers or renters view the flats online. All of these can help strengthen the transaction procedure and make the process more efficient. Our data shows that the deployment of VR can increase the conversion rate by more than 50%.
Develop more tools with AI technology and big data
Providing personalised experience is also our main goal. Apart from VR technology, we also introduced “AI Decoration” and “AI Talk” services. Customers can view the properties in different styles of decoration with just one click on our online platform. With “AI talk”, customers will be guided through the properties by a virtual agent. With big data, we also launched a new section “District Encyclopedia” to consolidate all transactions, demographics and society data of each district and display them in a user-friendly way.
In the future, our digital platform will certainly become more important to our business. Under the age of big data, we are going to use AI technology to further utilise the data we have such as property data, web analytics data to create new tools such as “Property Recommendation” to help our customers. We are also developing the whole ecosystem about the property investment cycle into our platforms. Our goal is to provide a one-stop solution including pre-sales and post-sales service to our customers so they can enjoy the best service via the whole customer journey.
This article is sponsored by Midland Realty.