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The home-buying and -selling process needs a renovation. Today’s digital natives find two-dimensional sales sheets a tad ho-hum. On the other side of the fence, developers can’t parse much information about prospects through these sales methods either.
Recognizing this problem, Sign Build, an innovative UK signage company that designs, manufactures, and installs signage to the UK housing sector, approached Solutions Integrator, Scan Computers International LTD to bring the concept of a digital kiosk and sales center to life. UK-based SCAN is already renowned for its work in the retail sector and knew it could apply some of those lessons to the residential housing sector. “Our experts at SCAN are very experienced in understanding customer requirements and finding a way to articulate that into technology,” says Peter Davies, Head of Digital Signage and Analytics at SCAN.
Signtouch is the result of the Sign Build ‑ SCAN partnership. Through an interactive touchscreen, Signtouch delivers a house builder’s sales and marketing collateral to the buyer’s fingertips. Its centralized data platform also captures prospects’ behavioral data for targeted developer outreach and personalization.
The Foundation for Digital Transformation
Digital transformation might be revolutionizing other industry sectors, but the housing market, at least in the UK, is still playing catchup, says Mark Cowin, Managing Director of Signtouch. “The housing sector appreciates the need for digitalization and the need for the potential buyer to be able to do the research before they can make the biggest purchase of their life. But that hasn’t been the way the UK housing market has traditionally sold its product.”
Instead, a 200-sq.-ft. portable cabin on-site with basic photography and wallboards are all that used to be typically available to describe each home for sale. Buyer data can be a rich vein of information for developers to mine, but pen-and-paper solutions—a tally sheet recording how many people walk into the office—don’t lend themselves easily to advanced analytics.
More recently, there has been a focus on developing more relevant content, but the delivery mechanisms still don’t measure up. “It’s like trying to fit four elephants into a Mini; you just can’t do it. You must find a way of increasing the size of the car,” Davies says. “Signtouch is that bigger and smarter car.”
Building the Signtouch Digital Kiosk
Beyond providing interactive site plans and 3D tours to homebuyers, Signtouch needed some heavy lifting at the back end to connect to CRM systems. So, SCAN developed the front end and back end for the Signtouch digital kiosk from the ground up and created a proprietary API so the solution could communicate with third-party platforms.
Content had to be centrally controlled, but regional and local offices needed to be able to customize it at the individual-buyer level. “Signtouch can update a picture, a price, or a sale status on their CRM, and it automatically publishes to any number of screens at the push of a button because it’s all connected to the cloud,” Davies says.
The #digitally driven integrated #kiosk solution had to be easy to use both by #RealEstate salespeople and prospective #homebuyers. @ScanComputers via @insightdottech
The digitally driven integrated kiosk solution had to be easy to use both by real estate salespeople and prospective homebuyers. Buyers can route the solution’s live chat option to the phone using a QR code. Signtouch proactively manages the customer-facing displays and media player, 24/7. “We use Intel technology because it gives us foresight to understand if there’s going to be any problems with hardware and to make any necessary changes,” Cowin says.
In addition to technical expertise, Cowin appreciates that SCAN could flex its muscle to “introduce hardware partners like Samsung and Intel into the solution.” Bringing high-profile names into the equation enabled Signtouch to get in front of many high-profile new-home builders in the UK,” Cowin says.
“Intel is our engine and it’s reliable,” Cowin says. “If something goes wrong, you can always get a mechanic—it’s like a Ferrari but with a Ford servicing agreement.”
The Transformed Housing Landscape
Using Signtouch, housing developers can now personalize their marketing and sales content at scale, in individual locations. Footfall and real-time traffic analytics dynamically customize content shown. Potential homebuyers can access interactive site maps, view details of each individual house type and explore neighborhood information. The digital-kiosk solution frees staff to concentrate on engaged buyers whilst potential buyers can research the details of the development without interaction from sales staff.
“Anecdotally, housebuilders describe bespoke home upgrade options and details of local amenities and public services as game-changing,” Cowin says. “Sales and marketing directors are equally impressed by the functionality to connect each site-based screen back to a regional or head office sales and marketing department.”
Cowin predicts the future of the residential housing sector is moving toward a “car-configurator approach” to new homes: “Think personalized home creation through both external and internal design packages.”
Davies and Cowin appreciate the strengths their teams bring to their partnership. “Signtouch will continue to drive thought leadership in the digitalization of the home-building industry and look for applications in new industries and markets,” Davies says. “The synergy here is SCAN’s global reach to technology providers and our ability to convert designs and ideas into viable commercial propositions.”
This article was edited by Georganne Benesch, Associate Editorial Director for insight.tech.