To sell real estate online may seem like a great challenge. This, despite the fact that the majority of customers are accustomed to making large and small purchases online. Presumably, the greatest challenge is making customers feel they have enough information and inspiration to go through with a large online purchase. This has been a challenge in basically every industry, even those that now are e-commerce savvy.
The automotive industry is an example of an industry that has been very successful in e-commerce, despite the great expense and complexity of their products. They identified that, given relevant information, customers tend to immediately make a purchase or decide to make a purchase in the future. The automotive industry utilizes smart strategies such as configuration, which allows customers to build their own car digitally. The configuration contains relevant, simple facts on each of the car’s components, making it easier for customers to “build” the car of their dreams.
In other words, the automotive industry has made it possible for customers to “touch and feel” their product, which in its turn increases the chance of making a sale. You can offer your customers the same feeling, allowing you to do a great portion of your business online.
Below, I have listed five steps in the customer process that you can apply to your business.
1. Finding new customers
Publish relevant information and descriptive images to inspire customers. Activate visitors with the help of visualization tools and enable them to “build” or “furnish” their apartment with configuration.
2. Starting the buyer’s journey
The visitor has now selected an apartment they are interested in. They have even spent time “designing” the apartment, so they are one step closer to making a purchase. Make sure to guide them into some form of apartment reservation. You can manage the reservation agreement and reservation fee online with the help of an e-commerce engine. Or, send the information directly to a real estate agent who can contact the potential customer.
3. Making the sale
Use the “My pages” functionality to communicate with your customers. On these pages, customers should be able to view the apartment they have reserved and follow project milestones along the way. Also update customers by sending e-mails containing information such as, “Now it's time to start furnishing your apartment”. Provide a link that will take them to a visual interior design tool and that will allow them to make the purchase online.
4. Attending to your customer relationship
Just because the customer has moved into their apartment does not mean that your communication should stop. The time and effort you spent winning the customer should be maintained to strengthen the loyalty of your customer and your relationship. You could, for example, run campaigns directed at existing customers with offers such as, “Time to break out the barbecue” in which you sell grills (through collaboration with another company). In this way, you can increase sales per customer.
5. Staying abreast of your customers’ lives
There are a number of industries that have succeeded in staying involved in their customers’ lives through campaigns. I believe that the real estate industry could be one of these. By mapping your customers and dividing them into customer groups, you can also predict the larger events of their lives and offer relevant accommodations. A simple example: Assume a customer group of “Men between 22 and 26 that have bought a studio apartment”. They may well be on their way to the next big milestone and need a larger apartment. Communicate with these customers and let them know what you have to offer.
What keeps companies from succeeding in this?
It requires considerable change in various parts of the organization, in processes and in technology to accomplish a customer process as described above.
We are thoroughly motivated by taking on these types of complex flows and processes. Litium’s cloud-based e-commerce platform provides you with the muscle and flexibility to grow your business without limits. Our solid technical foundation will help you create added value for your customers and unique competitive advantages for your company. We would love to talk to you about how we can help you in your endeavors. You will find my contact information below.