Alibaba-backed Tmall Establishes Online Housing Platform with E-House

Retail platform Tmall and real estate service provider E-House announced a strategic cooperation Wednesday, jointly launching an online housing platform called “Tmall Haofang.”

The move aims to help real estate companies customize their online flagship stores, integrate 3D purchase technology, live broadcasts and more financial service capabilities into the real estate industry, according to the two companies.

“The establishment of such a platform further illustrates the trend of the real estate industry combining with the internet,” said Yan Yuejin, research director at the Shanghai Yiju Research Institute think tank. “It has become an area that real estate companies can focus on in the future.”

Yan said as more real estate enterprises launch online platforms, other real estate companies will make efforts in marketing in the future. With the help of such platforms, they can also transform their marketing models.

In addition, the two companies jointly launched the “Real Estate Transaction Coordination Mechanism” (ETC), a system supported by various high-tech digital technologies such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and blockchain. It carries multiple transaction service functions such as housing storage, marketing promotion, transactions, and third-party services; it also provides four transaction scenarios: new house transactions, second-hand house transactions, special price house transactions, and auction house transactions.

In the past 20 years, China’s real estate market has developed rapidly, but real estate transactions have not yet formed a set of relatively mature trading rules.

In real estate marketing, developers often encounter problems such as difficulty in reaching direct customers, high marketing costs, kidnapping by a single monopoly channel, and inability to monitor the transaction process. In real estate transactions, channel brokerage businesses also face serious problems such as difficulty in controlling housing information, lack of effective customer sources, serious malicious competition, complicated transaction procedures, and high transaction costs.

“Technological innovation and digitization of commercial links will bring new dividends to the real estate industry,” said Jiang Fan, president of Tmall, the largest business-to-consumer retail platform in Asia owned by e-commerce giant Alibaba. “Online scenes will be important to real estate consumption in the future, and offline scenes will be more intelligent.”

Ding Zuyu, CEO of E-House, predicted that in the next 10 years, the sales area of commercial housing will reach 15 billion square meters, and the total sales of commercial housing will reach 150 trillion. If 50% of them are moved online, it will be a huge market.

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However, the online model still faces a lot of doubts and pressures, Yan said. “Companies should pay attention to the needs and concerns of the consumer market, and really study the pain points of the market to form a better platform.”

At present, many companies have built such platforms, according to Yan. “Many opportunities exist in the real estate Internet market. The opportunities for cooperation are greater than the pressure of competition and can also form a better ecological environment for the whole industry.”