Redefining the Homebuying Experience Virtually: Top 4 Benefits of Implementing an Online Design & Sales Platform

The homebuying process is rapidly evolving as a result of the pandemic, advancements in technology, and the increasing popularity of virtual platforms. In order to be successful in today’s climate, homebuilders’ adaptation of elite technology in the sales and design process is critical because homebuyers expect it.

Roomored, an integral component of ILG’s HomeDesign solution, offers virtual home shopping and interior design capabilities for homebuyers. With its engaging photoreal visualization, Roomored offers an expansive product catalog of finish options such as flooring, cabinets, and countertops, enabling homebuilders to capture homebuyers and design dream homes online.

With millennials quickly approaching their prime homebuying phase and homebuilders witnessing increased demand from a generation who prefers to shop online and make their choices virtually, this leaves many homebuilders wondering, “What are the key benefits to implementing a completely virtual design platform?”

Interior Logic Group (ILG) recently hosted a session at the International Builders Show that addressed this very question. With the pandemic making such an impact on the home building industry, ILG and some of our valued clients gathered to discuss the impacts COVID-19 has had on the sales and design process as well as the technology solutions available to homebuilders that help streamline their business and improve overall performance.

The session, Winning Strategies for Selling & Designing New Homes Virtually, was led by ILG’s Home Technology Solutions’ Division President, Alison Stump, and featured a panel of key industry leaders including Nicole Burdette, Division President for Brookfield Residential; Ben Clarke, Vice President of Home Gallery and Customer Experience for Richmond American Homes; Ken Peterson, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Shea Homes; and Angie Thompson, Vice President of Purchasing and Product for Beazer Homes.

Following are some key takeaways from the session.

Virtual Technology Creates a Seamless Design Process

While the adaptation of technology came long before the pandemic, COVID-19 certainly encouraged homebuilders to view technology as a necessity rather than a benefit. At the onset of the pandemic, homebuilders’ main concern was, “How are we going to seamlessly transition and provide buyers with the same level of service that we do in our design centers in a virtual setting?”

“Technology solutions like Roomored allowed our company to pivot quickly and helped us fill in the missing gaps when our designers were unable to meet in our facilities themselves,” mentioned Clarke. “The virtual platform has become a critical part of our design process, and it’s not going away.”

By implementing a virtual design platform into the homebuilder studios, the homebuying process has become easier and more efficient for both the consumers and the employees.

Virtual Technology Reduces Design Appointment Time

Traditionally, the design center experience would take up to several hours and often become an overwhelming experience. With the utilization of the Roomored platform homebuilders were equipped for a seamless transition and were able to handle the balance of online technology and the tactile experience that is offered in physical design studios.

“Before the pandemic, we usually gave buyers about four hours in the design studio,” said Thompson. “With the Roomored virtual platform, we are able to pull selections in advance and show our buyers exactly what their selections would look like and not get stuck on a cabinet finish for an hour. We are able to move forward in the appointment and not deal with emails and phone follow ups, which can often delay the design process.”

Additionally, Peterson noted that through the Roomored platform, Shea Homes was able to compress the design experience into only a couple of hours – a win-win for both consumers and homebuilders.

Virtual Technology Provides Powerful Data Analytics

In today’s world, with the wealth of data available, homebuilders are most interested in metrics.

“With a virtual design and sales platform like Roomored that offers quick and easy access to data including click data, favorited products and more, our designers are increasingly being looked at as trusted advisors,” says Clarke.

The implementation of this virtual technology allows designers and homebuilders to have incredible insight into a buyer’s aesthetic and understand what is practical and what will meet the needs of their lifestyle. Once they are able to understand what the buyer wants, they are able to deliver a beautiful selection to the buyer in a memorable, impactful, and efficient manner.

Thompson mentioned that with the data available on the Roomored platform, Beazer Homes is able to see what buyers are purchasing to help narrow down their catalog. While time is a hot commodity, having too many options is not ideal for the homebuilders. What is important is building and getting homes developed to get the homebuilding process moving – with Roomored, homebuilders are able to accomplish just that.

Roomored has also enabled homebuilders to sell homes within brand new communities, site-unseen. Burdette stated, “The community we piloted Roomored at was supposed to open in April of 2020 and we couldn’t host a grand opening in LA county due to Covid. So, we utilized Roomored as a sales tool to help walk people through the models and show consumers how the floorplans live. If we look at the metrics from that, we were able to open a community in the middle of Covid and make significant sales before we ever grand-opened to the public.”

Virtual Technology Enhances Homebuyer Confidence

With the number of home-renovating shows that are currently being idolized on television, just about anyone thinks they can be a home designer. While these renovation shows can certainly help with inspiration for the design process, it is important to deliver products that are unique to the homebuyer. Many customers want what they see on HGTV – that said, these shows have increased buyers’ demand of information about the products that are available to them.

Roomored’s online design tools provide unlimited finish options, including flooring, cabinets, and countertops, enabling builders to offer real-time product design and selections directly to homebuyers — without the customer ever having to enter a design center, showroom, or model home.

“The Roomored platform is the best in class for realism,” said Peterson. “Customers used to go to Houzz or Pinterest to start shopping for different products. For us, this virtual platform and its product catalogs and the level of realism it provides to customers allows us to set the buyers expectation at point of sale and ensure that they are confident with their decision.”

Some homebuilders are utilizing the virtual platform as one of their key sales tools. Thompson stated, “We provide our buyers with a temporary link where they can build a house and design it before ever going to contract. This allows us to build a rapport with the client and not make them feel rushed. Instead, buyers are coming in confident in us and the homebuying experience.”

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