When widespread internet access became possible in the mid-1990s, everybody knew the world had changed forever. But nobody could have imagined quite how dramatic these changes would be. The era of digital connectivity has facilitated business processes, communication and how every single industry functions at a fundamental level.
For the individual, the digital era has created freedom of expression like never before. A combination of instant, easy global communication and freedom to express one’s lifestyle via social media has made everybody much more identity-focused. No longer are consumers willing to simply blend into the crowd. They want to differentiate themselves, to publicly celebrate their uniqueness. In the age of eCommerce and rabid mass consumerism, the principal tool for expression is through purchasing decisions.
This shift to a more empowered and self-aware consumer has created a dilemma for retailers (of all breeds). How can we offer customers exactly what they want, when they want it, whilst still keeping within our own budgets and time-constraints? Not only do customers want more personalised products with which to express their uniqueness, they also want them immediately. They’re used to getting their own way and fast. Delivering that perfect customer experience is crucial, now more than ever.
Consumers want products that express their uniqueness and demand a personalised service that makes them feel valued as an individual. They want it for the clothes they buy, their cars, their groceries… they also want it for the home they buy.
Just like the retailers which have been forced to adapt their strategies to meet the demands of the identity-focused consumer, property developers must also adapt if they are to survive and thrive in a world dominated by big construction companies.
As with the majority of transformational milestones, the tools required to enable industries to adapt to changing consumer preferences are of the technological variety. And in this era of (almost) unprecedented technological development, the tools are both powerful and various. The property industry is fast acknowledging the ways in which tech adoption promises to streamline and facilitate business across all aspects of the real estate spectrum. The term PropTech is now widely used, with a large global movement at play to create an easier, more profitable future for the industry.
Developers and marketers of off-plan properties have a golden opportunity. Technological developments in CAD software have been advancing at a rapid rate, with 3D visualisation tools more sophisticated than we could have imagined even five years ago. What’s more, the opportunity to integrate this software with project management platforms, and with extended reality devices such as virtual and augmented reality, mean that the benefits of 3D visualisation extend far beyond the architect’s office.
But how does this relate to property customisation?
Those responsible for selling off-plan properties know well the struggle of enabling prospective buyers to visualise the property they will be investing in when there is none for them to view yet. Until the property is completed, all buyers have to rely upon, traditionally, are drawings, 2D renderings and (if they’re lucky) CGI video. Modern 3D visualisation software, when combined with the immersive experience of VR (or AR), allows the buyer to effectively step inside the property before even a single brick is laid.
But the buyer wants to play an active role in their property purchase. Walking around the property in VR may be very engaging, but it’s possible to take it a step further…
By offering customers a set of pre-defined options to choose from when purchasing their new home, there is now the chance to deliver an outstanding customer experience that fulfils this desire for customisation. They can pick from a range of materials and finishes, for example, and even play with different colour choices for the walls.
Behind the desire for customisation is a yearning for control. Buyers want to have access to and understand what is going on throughout the development process. They’re not alone. Everybody working on a property development wants to know what’s going on across the board. Workers on site need to know what materials are being delivered and when, for example. A lot of time and money can be saved through transparency: where all parties are in real-time communication, any issues can be ironed out early on, eliminating potentially costly mistakes.
The upshot of all of this is a far happier buyer, satisfied that they have had control and played an active role throughout the development of their new home. If it were difficult to sell off-plan in the past, such technologies stand a good chance of converting successful sales at a far greater rate, benefitting not just the empowered modern buyer, but the entire property development sector.