Design trends are always changing — it seems like only yesterday we were celebrating matching kitchen hardware, but now it’s all about mixing metals. Staying on top of these ever-evolving trends can prove difficult for busy developers who simply don’t have the time to weigh the pros and cons of quartz versus granite countertops.
The Interactive Abode (TIA) is a Toronto-based company that uses their own tried-and-true data to help developers create in-demand upgrade packages and build a custom online design studio that fits their unique needs and branding.
“Because we have so many clients using our software, through every project we’re able to collect data and put it into our analytics,” explains Jenna Zaza, co-founder of The Interactive Abode. “We can look at comparable projects in that particular city and make suggestions based on what worked for other developers, versus what didn’t.”
This technology not only wows homebuyers with an unforgettable user experience (who doesn’t want to toggle kitchen cabinet options like they’re in a real life version of The Sims?), but sells more upgrades by giving homeowners ample time to make these important decor decisions.
“We work with big developers who have been around for decades, but we also work with clients who might be on their first or second project,” says Zaza. “If their first project created a lot of headaches — if for example, they offered 50 different options — we can help them narrow it down and put together a really strong upgrade package.”
Zaza and her team first sit down with the client to discuss their target market, identify critical goals and answer any questions they may have. Using curated data, TIA is able to recommend materials, colors and upgrade options that are selling like hotcakes within the industry — based off factors such as the size of the project, its location and pricing.
When a developer signs on, The Interactive Abode begins building a custom Online Design Studio — a software program that allows homebuyers to visualize color and upgrade options from the comfort of their couch. Unlike one-on-one design centre appointments, there’s no pressure to make a decision on the spot. You can even email your creation to a friend if you need a second opinion!
Once the selections have been made, homebuyers can pay for their upgrades online using a credit card. “It’s really like an online shopping tool that helps purchasers validate their decisions,” adds Zaza.
Some developers are using the Online Design Studio in lieu of expensive model suites. Why build just one kitchen option when you could use that money to develop three model kitchens using the software? Former clients of TIA who have gone this route have elected to host open houses where indecisive purchasers can see and touch the materials. Ultimately, the selections are made online — on the purchaser’s own time — rather than in a design centre where emotions can run high.
Even developers who have opted to use both the Online Design Studio and a physical design centre have found the technology to be a great asset. Allowing purchasers to make their decisions at home, prior to an in-person appointment, streamlines the entire process. Meetings with designers are faster and more efficient, and purchasers feel confident in their choices.
There are many other benefits to using the Online Decor Studio. It’s available in multiple languages and the system can send out email reminders to purchasers who haven’t completed their selections. It aids developers by producing customized construction reports, feeding information about the material selections directly to the trades via an Excel spreadsheet. And when it comes time to start planning their next project, developers can pull from reports and analytics to determine the most popular decor selections and pinpoint emerging trends.