Real estate firms bank on tech tools to generate sales amid lockdown

Leading the race is Godrej Properties, which sold 500 homes with the help of technology in the last quarter, when the lockdown was announced.
As prospective buyers stay away because of the nationwide lockdown, developers are banking on technology tools to woo customers.

From Zoom calls to virtual experience centres, they are trying out everything possible to generate sales at a time when bookings have dried up. The March quarter saw a 30 per cent drop in residential sales and the scenario is expected to be similar for the rest of the year.

Leading the race is Godrej Properties, which sold 500 homes with the help of technology in the last quarter, when the lockdown was announced.

“During lockdown, we used videoconferencing, Zoom calls effectively. We actually reworked sales by leveraging technology. Actually we digitised sales process one-and-half years ago,” said Mohit Malhotra, managing director at Godrej Properties.

Shapoorji Pallonji Real Estate has been working on a virtual platform that puts a sales representative in the “driver’s seat” and equips him with all key information like location, sample flat photographs, project related information and master layout plans, said its Chief Executive Venkatesh Gopalkrishnan.

“Our aim is to provide an actual site visit experience to prospect customers on our virtual platform. We are confident that the platform will help us to convert qualified leads to bookings, online even after the lockdown is lifted,” Gopalkrishnan said.

Bengaluru-based Puravankara is banking on its online platforms such as BookMyHome and MyPinkHomes, through which customers can select the project, view the available inventory and purchase a unit of their choice. It sold 100 units online in the past 40 days.

“With this unprecedented situation, we could not have been forewarned or prepared. So, we focused on our robust online/digital system through which we are able to attend to all leads and manage the customer life-cycle seamlessly,” said Ashish R Puravankara, managing director of the firm.

Similarly, its call centre and customer service desks are fully operational and it has scaled up chat services using bots, teams are available via videoconferencing and all queries are getting addressed on a real-time basis during working hours, he said.
Mumbai-based Wadhwa group has introduced a virtual sales experience centre for customers to guide and support them and give them an option to virtually transact during the recent Akshaya Tritiya festival and thereon.

“On-call support, WhatsApp assistance, virtual site tours and online booking features are made available to enhance the customer’s experience,” said Bhasker Jain, head of sales, marketing & CRM at the group.

Niranjan Hiranandani, managing director at Hiranandani group, said the lockdown had brought out an alternative to “walk-ins” in the form of online and digital — a pipeline of queries has been generated, and will be converted from “prospects” into “actual sales” in due course.

“We were already on the digital and social media platforms. The lockdown created a situation where usage of these increased exponentially. During the festival of Gudi Padwa, we were able to enable prospective buyers who wanted to take advantage of the festival to book a home. It has already functioned successfully, and will get due importance in the post-lockdown scenario,” he said.

Anuj Puri, chairman – ANAROCK Property Consultants, said that even after the pandemic is controlled, dependence on physical site visits, face-to-face discussions and transactions would be significantly reduced.

“Leading developers and consultancies with digital sales capabilities will have an indubitable edge, since the market is now navigating headlong into digital mode. We have already noted a major shift in customer behaviour, with 25 per cent more time spent on social media and an 18 cent increase in time spent on property portals. The quality of interactions has improved significantly even as the cost of lead acquisition has reduced,” he said.


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