Eduardo Orozco
CEO and Co-Founder
Alohome
/
Startup Contributor

Let Your Clients Buy From You: Lessons From the Holiday Season

By Eduardo Orozco | Fri, 01/14/2022 - 08:58

This holiday season, my fiancée and I left everything to the very last minute. Due to a crazy end-of-the-year sprint between her MBA at Stanford and our best month on record at Alo Home, the weekend before Christmas we were completely unprepared and without presents for our family gift exchange. 

We realized that it was way too late to purchase online as we usually do, and we found ourselves in the shopping mall two days before Christmas. The experiences we had on the sales floor reinforced some aspects that I have been working on recently through our initiatives at Alo Home. I won't name the stores involved but our experiences went something like this:

Experience A

We walked into the store and headed to a specific section. We were welcomed by the salesperson, who kindly backed away when we signaled we wanted to browse alone. She lingered back, attentive but not intrusive. We picked out two items and checked their prices, but we had a question about a specific feature. 

The salesperson came forward, answered the questions we had and backed away. In a few seconds, we were already at the register with one less present to buy and happy we had succeeded at getting in and out in less than 5 minutes. Transparency, on-demand customer service and a streamlined process won our business at this store.

Experience B

We walked into a store to be confronted immediately by a pushy salesperson. We felt uncomfortable as we browsed the shelves; the salesperson breathing down our necks. We found an item that was suitable, grabbed it from the shelf and were immediately confused as there were no price tags. Still, we picked out one more item, but without prices we found ourselves unable to compare between the two. The sales process was forcing us to do the one thing we didn’t want to do: speak with the salesperson. 

We asked for the prices but instead of telling us what they were, she showed us a third item that looked more expensive. Unfortunately, we were not interested. Finally, we got the prices for the items we had selected. After that awkward moment, we left the store empty-handed and frustrated about 10 seconds later. Although the intentions of the salesperson were probably good, the sales process had not worked for us. 

This business lost the purchase of a well-qualified, time-pressured, and motivated buyer who had already picked out items from the shelf and was ready to buy them. While the product could have won, the purchasing experience failed the customer.

Experience C

We walked into a third store while the only person on duty was behind the counter painting her nails. Needless to say, we didn't receive a greeting. We scrolled through the items, we actually liked the music being played at the store, we liked their products and selection. 

We then selected the one item we were looking for and went to the register. We noticed that the item had a cosmetic defect and we asked for another one. The salesperson didn't even look up to inform us that the item on display was the last one available and that she had no others. We were not offered a solution, a similar alternative or even a feigned effort to search. 

We left the store without success again. The product was good, but the business had failed us and the customer experience had been compounded even more negatively by the attitude of the staff.

In almost every industry, our clients don’t want to be sold to, they want to buy.

I understand that retail is a super complex industry and that the challenges it faces are being compounded even further by COVID, the pressure of e-commerce, and disrupted supply chains. 

I am very ignorant about retail but these experiences made me reflect about an industry I do know a lot about, which is real estate, and residential real estate in particular. Nonetheless, I think that the reflections from my experiences do apply to many more industries. Whether we realize it or not, every single business is in the business of “experiences.”

In 2022, our clients don’t want to be sold to, they want to be empowered to buy from us. Clients want to be the ones leading the purchase. Thinking about my own experience as a buyer, I want to be able to buy pozole, tacos, insurance, air travel, a new laptop or pretty much anything conveniently on my own schedule, from my cellphone, speaking to as few humans as possible. To me, this is empowering.

Think about the last great shopping experience you had and contrast it with a frustrating buying experience you had. The difference probably had to do with empowerment, lower barriers, customer service on demand, and a seamless flow.

In the residential for-sale real estate industry, where we sell land, houses and condos, the reality is that today, the prevailing model is centered on processes that make it incredibly complex for the buyer to buy from us. The industry remains very traditional and this is a massive opportunity for the companies that are ready to make it easier for buyers to purchase from them.

The real estate industry could do much more to improve customer experience even from the first point of contact. 

At Alo Home, we recently ran research in more than 100 for-sale projects in Mexico and Colombia. We discovered that the buying experience ranked low to very-low in 98 percent of the projects. 

What stood out was that none of the projects had prices and availability published online. To get information, buyers had to leave personal data, contact channels had significant delays to respond, no projects offered online purchasing, as well as many more barriers to stellar buying experiences. 

Some astonishing results are that 87 percent of businesses took more than 24 hours to respond to requests for information, 9 percent between five and 24 hours, and only 2 percent of real estate developers took less than five hours. In summary, most of the industry is providing a terrible buying experience, even from the first contact point. Imagine waiting more than 24 hours to find out the price of your new car; buyers simply don’t tolerate this elsewhere. 

As developers, we all want to sell more; however, we are making it very hard for buyers to purchase from us. This is where technology and a renewed focus on creating positive buying experiences can truly transform businesses in 2022. 

Technology and a focus on creating better purchasing experiences go a long way. Alo Home helps real estate companies with that.

At Alo Home, we specialize in creating digital showrooms for real estate projects, enabled by machine learning and analytics through our Alo Home platform. We strive to empower homebuyers to be able to purchase from our projects in a transparent, seamless, online buying experience with on-demand customer support. 

We believe it is time to raise the bar and to build better purchasing experiences for one of the highest-stakes products in our clients’ financial lives. Some of our results working with projects in more than six cities across Mexico have been outstanding. As it turns out, there are clients out there who want to buy from you, if you only build the tools and experiences to let them. It’s time to raise the bar for the homebuyer’s experience by creating new customer journeys that match and surpass the digital transformation going on in other industries. 

If you want to learn more about how we are building the future of real estate at Alo Home, please reach out to me at eduardo@alohome.io

Photo by:   Eduardo Orozco