Page 2: Competitive advantage through the Internet
In the late 1990s most major UK companies were seeking to develop an Internet presence, because those without this means of communication would rapidly fall behind competitors with an Internet presence.
Since 1997 there has been a dramatic increase in the percentage of the population online in the UK. The successful organisation of the future will communicate through traditional and modern electronic means. Existing and potential customers will be able to access both well laid out High Street stores or showrooms and exciting, easy to navigate websites.
Put yourself in the position of someone wanting to purchase a new home, perhaps due to relocating your job to another part of the country. Imagine the frustration involved in having to make a lengthy journey to visit a house only to find that it does not meet your requirements.
With this in mind Bryant Homes has developed a high quality website which was launched at the Evening Standard Homebuyers Show at Olympia, London, in March 1999. It is a useful information source and a good starting point for people wishing to purchase a house. It is also a selling tool and an opportunity to increase brand awareness.
The website’s main dedicated system for customers is named 'Homefinder'. Potential buyers indicate their preferences and Homefinder performs a search against consumer needs and requirements to identify a house type and location to suit their lifestyle. It contains images and floor plans of the entire Bryant Homes product portfolio. Homefinder enables the prospective buyer to:
- view and compare properties
- note their locations and features offered
- request further information
- take the first steps towards making a purchase.
Using this type of 'virtual reality', Bryant Homes provides a way of both visualising and experiencing something long before any work on-site begins. It is the next best thing to being there. The information on Homefinder comes directly from a central database and is updated every 24 hours. Input arrives from all levels within Bryant Homes e.g. from on-site sales, negotiators via the on-site sales system, sales departments and production managers.
Not everyone has access to the Internet. To meet this gap Bryant has produced a Product Portfolio CD-ROM. The CD-ROM uses the same format and content as the website and features an 'electronic walkaround' for the majority of house types. This allows customers to turn through 360 degrees in order to view a room from every angle, thus providing a true representation of each home with the use of real photography. This gives customers the opportunity to view a house type for which there is not a show-home on a particular development.