Realty firms tap AI, big data to push sales
Developers deploy new-age tech to widen customer base, reduce marketing spend, fast-track sales turnaround in a subdued market
Mumbai: At the Puravankara Ltd booth at a property exhibition in Bengaluru last month, two humanoid robots recorded visitor data and their queries, partially replacing usual sales staff at the reception.
For the real estate firm, which fielded these robots developed by technology firm Invento Markerspaces Pvt. Ltd, the experience was positive. “Instead of 10 young boys/girls manning the reception, this time we just had three,” said Anand Narayanan, chief operating officer, Puravankara.
For the Bengaluru-based real estate firm, those humanoids are part of a larger plan to completely ‘dehumanise” its sales process, build a strong data of potential homebuyers and sell homes completely online by 2020, Narayanan said. “What typically took 100 hours to get customer data for a sales guy, it has now dropped to about 7-8 hours,” he added.
Puravankara is one of the few developers which are adopting new-age technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and big data to chase potential homebuyers. In a subdued property market, these technologies are being used to cut marketing spending, fast track sales and widen customer base.
Developers like Hiranandani Communities, K Raheja Corp, Oberoi Realty Ltd and Runwal group have also partnered with technology firms and digital marketing agencies to map potential customers online through advanced data analytics and streamline their sale process.
According to Vikram Kotnis, managing director, Amura Technologies Ltd, a digital marketing agency, real estate firms are now allocating 60-70% of their total marketing budget on digital campaigns as against 10-15% three-four years ago. The eight-year-old Pune-based firm currently works with around 130 property developers, up from 90 a year ago.
“Today, we are doing a lot of push marketing. We are depending heavily on Google and Facebook to target customers. Buyers are targeted based on geography, budget and even based on your buying patterns on e-commerce sites or where all you invest,” Kotnis said.
Mumbai-based Hiranandani Communities is planning to introduce chatbots to engage with customers on their projects and company websites.
“We are currently building a library of thousands of questions that a prospective consumer can ask,” said a company official who did not want to be identified. In addition, it is working with several digital agencies engaged in data mining and capturing consumer patterns on the internet.
Gurugram-based technology start up Zvesta said it is building technology platforms for over 3,000 residential projects across the country. The company, which specializes in predictive analytics and building AI platforms for real estate firms, is helping developers with technology support and consumer insights to find the right audiences online.
“We are categorising one unit (house) into a minimum of 2,000 data points based on physical specifications, location or amenities etc. This way, we are able to push certain projects to sell to certain kinds of audiences based on their preferences,” Anushree Srivastava, chief executive officer and co-founder Zvesta said.
According to Jayanth Kolla, founder and partner of research and consulting firm Convergence Catalyst, developers are moving away from depending solely on print ads and expensive outdoor activities.
As real estate firms tighten expenditure, most are looking for alternatives like machine learning and advanced analytics through third party technology providers to improve efficiency and chase the right customers.
“We are no longer at the mercy of sales guys to decide which customer to call today. He or she would choose based on the lead scores of each customer. Higher the score, better are chances of closing the deal, thereby increasing the organisation’s probability of sales closure,” said Puravankara’s Narayanan.
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