Online platforms and real estate
The world of online shopping and social media have, to a large extent, changed how we do business. With more services and products available at the click of a button, consumers are becoming accustomed to a new normal. Amazon made headlines when it announced its purchase of Wholefoods, signalling its move into the brick and mortar retail world. Now, it seems property could be next.
When it comes to real estate, the basic principles of marketing apply. You need to know who your potential buyers are, and find a way to reach them with your product (or property). It makes sense, then, that online platforms would be a good place to start. According to a 2017 study by We Are Social it was found that there are 3.77 billion internet users worldwide (equaling 50%), with 1.61 billion e-commerce users. At the same time, there are 2.8 billion social media users.
According to the study, seven of the ten fastest growing internet populations are in Africa, signalling a definite shift towards modern technology. With this in mind, the move to Amazon, Alibaba, Facebook, and the like starts to make sense.
In July of this year, users noticed a new button on Amazon’s site: the option to hire a realtor. The effect was immediate, with online realtor service Zillow immediately experiencing a stock price slump of 4%. While no official word has been received from the online retail giant, it would fit into the evolving trend of online businesses moving into the real world.
There are many advantages to online property listings:
- Set specific search parameters, and only look at properties that suit your needs.
- Access information and statistics on the area in which you’re looking to buy.
- Make use of online bond calculators that give you an idea of what you can afford.
- Save time by only going for physical viewings of properties you’re already interested in.
- Increased exposure of your property to a target audience of potential buyers, increasing your chances of selling.
- Attracting serious buyers to viewings, meaning less time wasted.
A prime example of this is Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods earlier this year. The move lead to widespread panic and predictions of the death of brick-and-mortar retailers, but experts explain that this is simply part of a changing landscape in retail. While online shopping is convenient, retailers are starting to realise that experiential shopping – in an actual store – can have a favourable effect on shopping.
The physical store is undergoing a metamorphosis, here are some of the top trends:
Using machine learning and AI to create a more personalised shopping experience for customers: We have access to shoppers’ favoured locations, brands, and activities. This can be used to tailor the shopping experience and increase the visitor count.
Unique store experiences: It’s easier than ever to shop from home, so retailers need to create a reason for shoppers to visit a store. Think novelty features like Smart Mirrors, specialised services, and even in-store restaurants.
Payment: Signs for SnapScan and Apple Pay are popping up everywhere, signalling a move away from physical payments. Consumers are looking for easier ways to transact – most often by using their phones.
Whether or not Amazon takes over the retail world, property investors should be aware that consumer patterns and demographic changes are having a very real effect on how we do business.
As for reality, it’s been clear for quite some time that home buying and the internet are a perfect match.
Sources: Curbed, MarketWatch, GeekWire, Bloomberg, RE/MAX, Forbes, Vend