Key to "Buy Online": Create Online Translator, Matchmaker, Collaborator and Closer
To enable “buy online” for New Homes, we must bring the sales agents’ costly, time-consuming, and complex functions as translator, matchmaker, collaborator and closer, online. Not every builder, or even shopper wants to completely buy new homes online. But like brick and mortar stores, having that option, or as close to it, may dictate where buyers shop.
Traditionally with New Homes, Marketing brings online Leads to Sales, who immediately directs them offline for sales conversions. These one-directional, cross-functional online-to-offline, builder-dictated, manual hand-offs are uncommon in e-commerce. Like Amazon, by enabling Marketing’s Lead Generation function to seamlessly pass to Sales’ Lead Conversion function online, without seller intervention, buyers can move as far down the sales funnel as they want online. Of course they can immediately request online or on-site sales assistance when, and if, needed.
Great customer experiences require a customer-centric approach. With more DIY shopping capabilities, buyers are more empowered and informed, and builders get more curated leads with less costs and effort.
This “matchmaker” blog is the 2nd of a 4-blog series. Like the online “translator”, without online “matchmaking”, the New Homes industry cannot be disrupted.
Why is the New Homes industry ripe for Disruption? Because the New Homes Market is:
1. Huge – Nothing attracts tech investors more than a huge market. New Homes is a $300B+ subset of the largest ($3T+/year) U.S. industry, Real Estate. PropTech is hot. Most of the money has gone into Existing Homes. New Homes is next.
2. Fragmented – With nearly 50K builders in North America, there are no dominant players or standard practices. So there are few competitive barriers to outside disrupters.
3. Highly Inefficient – With many Sales and Marketing intermediaries that add tremendous time and costs to the purchasing process, New Homes is far from being a frictionless and efficient DTC (Direct-to-Consumer, or Discovery-to-Closing) industry.
4. A Tech-laggard – New homes is a notoriously traditional business that uses outdated Sales and Marketing practices and systems. Customer Experience is poor and rife with pain, risk, friction and frustration. Technology has yet to solve these problems.
So how will the New Homes industry be disrupted?
By creating “A FUN CX“. Basically, by combining the online Customer Experiences of Amazon, Facebook, Uber and Netflix. Specifically, to bring the agents “matchmaking” of buyers to builders online, let’s look at the Uberization of New Home Marketing and Sales.
So what’s Uber’s disruptive business model?
Simple. It’s Game. Set. Match!
Buying New Construction is like a massive online Easter Egg Hunt. You repeatedly run around, searching, reviewing and collecting hundreds of house plans from dozens of websites to put into your online shopping basket. Except there is no common shopping basket across websites.
Then, you have to find and pick everything piecemeal– the builder, the community, the plan, the homesite, etc. – literally down to the kitchen sink! An already risky, expensive and complex purchase is compounded by this painful online customer experience. Unknowingly, despite endless searches, you could have just missed your dream home because it was taken just before your search began, or it appeared right after your search ended. Just like missing a taxi before Uber arrived.
So how do you game this outdated search system?
SOLUTION: Build a New Homes marketplace matching game.
Create a New Home Portal – This is a singular destination to match millions of buyers with builders, homes and communities. This has enough offerings to improve the likelihood of more and better matches. Technology facilitates quick and repeated matches while enabling buyers to save, compare, share, collaborate and resume their Favorite matches online. It also serves as a destination to learn when, where, why and then how to buy New.
Set-up the tech tools to autoplay on this Portal “game board” 24/7. Like Uber:
- Instead of the Seller dictating the experience, give Shoppers the control – Omnichannel web apps (works across all browsers and devices without downloading) enable buyers to personally find, design and experience New Homes.
- Instead of Shoppers coming to the Products, bring the Products to the Shoppers – Instead of going to the homes, the app brings the homes to the buyers virtually – anywhere, anytime and on any device.
- Set and Wait vs Repeated Manual Searches – Shoppers set their search criterion and preferences. Then, personalized recommendations are automatically delivered to each shopper’s private My Home (Facebook-like) web page instead of shopping dozens of disparate generic builder websites one-at-a-time via google searches.
Use the Portal network and tools to match and notify buyers of matching products.
- Match and Notify – Knowledgable agents are recognized for their “I’ve got the perfect home for you!” matchmaking ability. To replace this function at a massive scale online, requires portal-wide Cloud AI (Artificial Intelligence). The AI effectively becomes a virtual matchmaker of millions of buyers and New Homes by freely searching, matching and notifying buyers of matching homes. The depth, breadth and 24/7 AI-matchmaking is frankly, unmatched. Shoppers’ reactions to each AI recommendation train the AI for even better matchmaking.
- No Mo’, FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) – with Match and Notify, shoppers not only save tremendous time and frustration of repeated searches across a few builders, but they don’t have to worry about missing their dream homes as they suddenly appear across the massive network. Instead of daily “needle in a haystack” searches, shoppers receive a daily “haystack of needles” notifications. “No matches” are even helpful as they prevent today’s hopeless searches (and wasteful ad spending on bad leads) while gently encouraging criterion refinement.
- Multiple notifications vs singular searches – shopping for homes is a collaborative, not solitary process. Simultaneous notifications to all decision makers facilitates real-time online communication and collaboration.
- Let the AI determine “Good, Bad and Ugly” Leads. The same lead could have different value assessments for different builders: “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” All parties are more satisfied as they each only see their respective “good” leads (and home matches) and not the “bad” and “ugly” ones. Builders don’t waste time and money on bad leads. Instead, they improve sales conversions and customer experiences with very “good” leads!
- Builders can shop Buyers like Buyers shop Builders – as buyers set their shopping criterion, we capture buyer profiles, requirements and preferences. To facilitate better matching and higher conversions, builders can shop these anonymous buyer profiles for desired leads vs less-controlled, click-thru browsing traffic from expensive search engines.
- Dual Virtual Agents – Like coveted dual agencies, the AI can function as both a Virtual Buyer’s and Seller’s agent. In addition to bringing customers to the builder like traditional offline marketing, it can also bring builders to customers – online. Each side may see a different set of matches, but they also see the intersection of matches for each other.
THE MATCH GAME CONTINUES
Continue to build on this matching game with related business and services – After the AI matches buyers with their homes, the even more knowledgeable AI can continue to personally recommend other products and services during the design, construction, closing and even post-closing stages per each buyer’s unique preferences.
NETWORKING WORKS ON THE NET
Obviously, to be matched to online shoppers, like Uber drivers, builders must be part of the portal network. Matchmaking is just one critical step to improving customers’ online shopping experience. Follow the 4-part blog to learn the entire process.