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Freeman Cebu Business

Will online portals affect salesmen?

TRADE FORUM - Chris Malazarte - The Freeman

My recent trip to the US was quite different. It seems that bad news was all over at the time. Most of the headlines had something to do with retailers closing shop. The biggest shopping chain, Macy’s, is closing more than a hundred stores this year following the announcement of mega-retailer, Walmart, to retire 269 of its stores.

While these closures represent only a fraction of their entire foothold, partly to blame is the change of buying patterns of consumers, which according to Macy’s has something to do with more and more people wanting to do their shopping online.

This brings me to the relevance of salespeople in the way people buy products nowadays. Come to think of it, practically all information are already available in the internet for anything you need from a house to toothpicks. The rise of online stores are starting to demolish brick by brick giant brick-and-mortar behemoths that have been there for decades threatening both store-end and field sales representatives.

If you happen to be into sales and marketing for a long time, you probably had asked yourself at one point as to how these things are going to affect your trade. Or if you’re new in this field, you probably are unaware that you are actually in competition with websites that are selling the same stuff as you do. And these websites are not just websites loaded with detailed information of products, they come with stunning visuals and believable testimonials enough to trap a buyer in need.

If you ask me if they pose as a threat to salespeople now or in the future, definitely YES. The change in buying patterns of consumers is not really so much on the changing needs of people because they are pretty much the same -- shelter, food, and other basic commodities, etc.

It’s the internet that changed the buying patterns of consumers when it comes to their needs. That’s why you rarely find nowadays a book or appliance salesmen because you can just order them online. Oh, that popular guy with a vacuum cleaner who “knocks on your door, ring on your bell, tap on your window, too” salesman has already retired a long time ago and would dread doing door-to-door again because the dogs are just getting bigger.

Levity aside, point is, many customers think of salesmen as nuisance and want to avoid them as much as they can. And the internet has done a fairly a good job in shooing them away. Plus, customers have more choices as to what, where and when to buy those goods they need. Companies are also happy with it. By going directly to the consumer they reduce the costs involved in physical selling. With that, the emergence of new “sales force” is not driven by people but by forces brought about by the internet. Portals endeavor to replace salesmen and physical stores and have by far made more money than the real producers of the goods that they sell! Amazon, Alibaba, eBay, just to name a few. 

And transport giant, Uber, is joining the online frenzy wanting to make a big dent in real estate, too! So what will become of real estate agents then? I have no concrete answers for this but one thing is for sure, the growing number of real estate portals that are coming out is a reality that realty companies have to seriously deal with.

Remember, they are also very big companies and are well funded at that and they have the capacity and the resource to exactly do what real estate agents are doing. They are in fact doing it right now!   

Real estate portals, for example, appear to be harmless and are used by many agents to upload their property listings. And they pay for putting those listings up. But real estate owners can also use the same website to directly sell their properties thus bypassing realty services and avoid paying for commissions!

The impact of online portals cannot be ignored. If they are able to pull down the goliaths in the business, all the more they impact our profession in ways that we do not know and real estate happens to be among those to be affected. But it is not the end of the world for people real estate, if you are in this field my next column will talk about how you can do your trade in ways you can rise out from these challenges.

***

The property market in the Philippines is growing. I am inviting people who would like to explore the wonderful world of real estate to join us in an exclusive seminar on Monday. For more information, send us a text 09065170202.

 

 

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