Online shopping is expanding at a phenomenal rate. ‘E-tailing’ in Australia is forecast to grow at twice the speed of traditional retail in the next four years. So what are the implications for business and property broking? Will you one day buy or sell a motel or management rights online?
The Internet has changed our world in ways few imagined. Numbers of Internet users are increasing exponentially, day after day. Not simply an information super-highway, it is a commercial mega-expressway, channelling billions of dollars in transactions every nanosecond.
According to Roy Morgan Research, more than half the Australian population aged 14 years and over have shopped online. Others claim the number to be much higher. Notable the tourism industry attracts the biggest single segment of online shoppers – people using the Internet to buy travel, ie. tickets and accommodation.
“An increasing percentage of Australians are using the Internet on a regular basis and it is now the preferred method for researching and booking a holiday,” said Roy Morgan Research international director of tourism, travel and leisure, Jane Ianniello.
Most traditional traders, in every sector, have come to better understand the power of the e-market and are adapting their business model to include a very strong online focus. Accommodation operators have certainly have had to come to grips with the demand for online bookings.
A recent IBISWorld industry report forecast online retailing in Australia would grow by 9% in 2011-2012 to reach $5.5 billion in revenue. And, it will be driven mostly by the increasing number of bricks-and-mortar operations set to launch online stores, they said.
A major ‘e-tailing’ conference held in Melbourne earlier this year suggested there are very few categories that can afford not to be thinking about online strategies. Where shopping online used to considered the domain of geeks, it is now attracting an older demographic, one that is much more financially mature.
All consumers are far more likely now to consider at least shopping around online, even if they make the final transaction at a bricks and mortar location. And, on top the already massive growth, the explosion of smart phone and tablet use is set to fuel an even greater cyber-shopping frenzy.
So, when it comes to real estate and business broking, where do we stand?
At Resort Brokers we are keeping one foot firmly planted in each camp. “While we are maximising our online presence to provide optimum access and convenience for clients and buyers, we believe nothing beats genuine personal service and attention,” said managing director, Ian Crooks.
“Without a doubt, new technologies have transformed our business. You only have to look at online property sites like realestate.com to see the extent to which the Internet has changed the landscape for property marketers and consumers,” he said.
The speed and accessibility of the Internet, not only via home and office computers but also on Wi-Fi devices and mobile phones, means potential buyers can browse available properties virtually anywhere, any time.
Perhaps more than it has in most product categories, the ability to browse and comparison shop online has been embraced by property hunters. Descriptions and images are available at a click. They can ‘drive by’ and ‘walk through’ 20 properties in a morning, without ever leaving the comfort of their study.
The time and cost-saving benefits in the residential real estate market are obvious. But imagine how much more significant they are in our business where the accommodation properties and businesses we market can be scattered all over the country, even the globe.
In this environment, our website, emails and online tools have become excellent means to help buyers narrow down prospects, so they need only physically inspect those properties that have already passed online scrutiny. This also saves valuable time for sellers.
And it’s not just the property itself buyers can study online. Maps, relevant regional tourism and economic data, information about supporting infrastructure and attractions and other pertinent details can all be provided in a virtual instant.
For vendors, our online resources and abilities are utilised to identify, target and communicate with their market more directly and more effectively than ever. Our website has evolved as a hub for tourism-related property and business.
Through resortbrokers.com.au, you can undertake a property search, read our blog packed with informative articles by industry experts, receive our monthly eNewsletter and browse extensive listings. Keep up with the latest on Facebook and Twitter, even receive customised property alerts.
The Infomer too is distributed digitally to 15,000 recipients. But the fact that we still print this important magazine and mail out 5,000 hard copies shows our continued belief in the power of traditional media.
In our market, newspapers are still a vital advertising forum and we continue maintain a strong presence in print. Major newspaper ads and this magazine are often the original source of our enquiries. Many visitors to our website have been directed there by a traditional press ad.
The traditional approach also remains integral in our sales approach. While the Internet is an incredibly useful and powerful tool, Resort Brokers believes no digital communication can replace the personal touch.
“People are the most important part of any property transaction. The know-how and experience of our consultants, our instinct for matching buyers with their ideal property, and the trust is be fostered between agent, seller and buyer, are all critical elements,” Mr Crook said.
“We see the Internet as a tool to complements and even enhance our service, but we never rely on it to provide our service. Relationships aren’t built on texts or emails, not on the human level essential for professional property representation.
“Personal meetings and appraisals, honest face-to-face communication, real people with real expertise, they will always be at the frontline of our business,” he said.