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By Offer Peylan

CPO & Co-Founder, Roby AI

OTHER FEATURES

The property sector needs to keep up with changing consumer behaviour

Last year saw a monumental shift in almost every aspect of our lives: not least the way we work, socialise and communicate.

One area which has seen a dramatic step away from tradition is consumerism: the way in which we acquire goods and services.

With the UK being the world’s third-largest e-commerce market, generating nearly £200 billion in sales in 2019, it’s no surprise that online sales grew by an astonishing 36% in 2020 – the highest growth seen for 13 years.

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Property is one of many sectors, famed for its traditional processes, that had a wake-up call when it comes to operating online.

While many businesses adapted to the tumultuous impact of COVID-19, there is still room for improvement when it comes to clarity and efficiency.

Technology has been a saving grace in helping to deliver this and will be one way that businesses can keep up with frequently changing consumer behaviour as we continue to navigate our way through the pandemic this year.

Shaking up the property sector

Over the past 10 months, the property sector has become unrecognisable. With everything from construction to moving home turned upside down, the pandemic has brought about a great deal of uncertainty for both consumers and businesses.

While the industry has faced difficulty, the pandemic has also shone a light on what consumers are really looking for.

The use of technology can help businesses to keep up, by providing insights and data to support the role of a traditional letting agent. In turn, the agent can deliver increased clarity to the consumer and help the transaction to run smoothly.

Having pages and pages of options is brilliant for a tenant, however more choice than ever before makes business even more difficult for under pressure property companies. Technology can support them as they continue working remotely and may find that they are struggling to keep up with the pace of online sales.

With an increase in transactions made through portals like Zoopla and Rightmove, business has been booming for many property companies. For example, Zoopla recorded a 70.5% increase in traffic on Boxing Day as many people resorted to searching online for their new homes over the festive period.

This demonstrates that the market is buoyant, but the question is – how can property businesses manage all these additional listings?

Technology is an agent’s helping hand

It is no secret that the pandemic has been challenging for agents. With the changing situation, there have been peaks and troughs in demand, on top of having to adapt to working remotely.

While human ability can most definitely meet a customer’s needs – technology can support this and duplicate it on a much bigger scale.

Technology can be deployed, not just to help agents with day to day tasks – such as nudging them on getting back to a customer or helping them to book a viewing – but also feeds into the bigger picture. Clever technology can help with compliance issues too as well as providing insights on the business as a whole.

There are many changing regulations that landlords need to be aware of, and smart technology can work behind the scenes to support an agent with this, while also following up with other leads quickly and efficiently.

Equally, data insights on how certain individuals are performing, what their strengths and weaknesses are can also be fed back to management teams. This provides businesses with the tools to thrive in the changing market and adapt parts of their business where needed.

Clarity needed to be one step ahead

Given the increase in online transactions, many property businesses have adapted well and are realising the need for an increased focus on clarity. Clarity in not just what they are displaying online, but of the whole pre-tenancy process, starting from that initial enquiry.

For example, renters moving during COVID-19 may find it harder to view properties in lockdown. A way for agents to overcome this is by providing even more detail than before – floor plans aren’t enough: video walkthroughs, clear communication and specific measurements are all required in order to attract interest from a tenant and lock in a successful let.

Working virtually means that property businesses are faced with an even greater number of enquiries to respond to, along with a high level of accuracy and attention to detail required.

Generating success is not just a case of moving your business online but by having the tools to make that jump a successful one. The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered assistants is one way that agents have been able to make working virtually a genuine success.

Getting ahead in 2021

2020 has shown us that technology is no longer an option but an essential for those operating in the property sector.

While businesses had plans to deploy it, this year will demonstrate how clever technology can be woven together with human processes to create the perfect experience for estate agents and home movers.

Leveraging technology that works alongside agents will make it easier to keep up with any future changes or challenges, driving success, profitability and integrity in 2021.

*Offer Peylan is CPO and Co-Founder at Roby AI

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