Real estate inventory management system-UX/UI case study

Real estate in India is still considered as one of the most expensive and reliable assets to own. Be it for self or investment, owning a house is still the ultimate goal for many. However, millennials might pretend that they prefer not to go that route and stick with liquidity, most of it comes from the high prices associated with it. Having said all that, the point here is that real estate has become the secondary focus for the new consumers. Hence, a decline in demand.

This was one side of the story, but someone has to look on the other side too. The opposite side stands the builders with huge loans on their heads, struggling with a decline in the demand for new flats.

The Problem

As a designer, if you dig deep inside the problem, you will find many aspects and folds to it. Let's take one part of the problem here to solve. Even after a lot of noise about Digital India, the real estate sector still lacks transparency and almost all of the transactions happen offline. This happens because a builder can only see the cons of transparency, which include — not being able to negotiate with the consumer, matching the price as with the competitors to make a sale, to operate in a low margin and a few more. On the brighter side, they must realize that transparency might bring steep rise in sales because of the reach and the scale. It will also help to manage the inventory in a more effective way with access to deeper analytics. In turn, having better control over pricing with predictions. Then, they will all be up for it.

The Challenge

To keep a record of a builder’s inventory (every flat) online on a live system. Currently, it is mostly kept on an excel sheet.

We are talking here about mapping huge projects on a system which is to be done by a human after all. Imagine a project with 4 phases, where every phase has 8 buildings and each building has 4 wings, each wing has 20 floors and each floor has 2 or 3 or 4 or even 8 units. Every unit has a unique property and pricing that needs to be mapped with it. Confused ?? This exactly is the challenge, to make a system capable of doing this and at the same time, so human that understanding it becomes a walk in the park.

1. Creating a system where all units of an inventory can be mapped

2. Making it universal for all different kinds of users

3. Making the process so smooth that Inventory Management could be explained by the system like a breeze

Viewing of inventory

Mapping properties to the units in bulk

Applying pricing to each unit with correct breakup

Giving control to the user to fluctuate pricing on certain conditions

Approach

In the Design process, I split the entire system into majorly 5 flows for ver.1.

My focus, while making the creation process, was to make it similar to an onboarding flow, where the information is offloaded to the user slowly in steps making it easier to comprehend.

Step by step conversational process for inventory creation.

Key questions/steps

How many sectors?

Number of phases under each sector?

Number of buildings under each phase with the name?

Number of wings under each building with the name?

After completion of these steps, asking the number of floors and units on each floor, with the multi-select feature, enabled users to select multiple floors for adding units in a single go.

Multiselect floors for bulk assigning units

To ease out and speed up the entire process, we clubbed information in batches, which then later could be mapped to the units.

For example: 1BHK is one batch of information. User will have the ability to add all the necessary details to this and then map 1BHK to multiple units in a single go.

Creating batches of information.

Similarly, user can also define properties of other factors like parking, floor rise, orientation, facing etc. and bulk map it to the units.

Pricing is a very dynamic component in this system, so I had to keep it separate from the rest of the flow. It behaves like a separate piece in the whole functioning. The idea was to be able to configure pricing at any given point of time.

For example: Say, I have mapped a certain parking pricing to 1000 units and now I want to change that price. By keeping pricing separately this task is just a few clicks away. Change the pricing once and it is applied throughout.

Defining pricing for different properties.

User will also have a capacity to keep certain units aloof from dynamic pricing change by simply switching off the dynamic pricing in a particular unit.

Cost sheet creation

This is the part where user has the control of defining the algorithm of changing the price or opening the unit for sale on the UI itself. The goal here was to empower the user to create his own rules according to his perceived situations.

For example: User can define — increase in the price of all units by 5% once 500 units of an inventory are sold.

Setting up actions and conditions.

It was extremely crucial to have a view of the inventory in a manner where the user feels in control. There were a lot of moving parts on the inventory summary page but the key focus was to understand the inventory status at a quick glance. Apart from that, to give user the control to edit each and everything that is being set-up up till here.

Inventory summary

Conclusion

These 5 flows majorly construct the entire Inventory Management System. Apart from these, there are a couple of added features to enhance the viewing ability as well as quickening the creation process.

For example, Copy feature allows user to copy the entire setting of a building and paste to another building.

Similarly, some more features like view pricing, change the unit name setting, marking jodi flats etc.

But what’s more important is that this system remains as simple as it can be. The utmost importance is given to strip down each screen which the user encounters in the beginning. Later, once the learning curve is complete, the system is equipped with all the features any pro user will truly want.

Acknowledgments

Inventory management was a team effort. Here are a few people who were constantly involved in the process. Rahul Yadav, Jekin Gala & Rahul Khobragade

Thank you for your time!

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Love to declutter the world by making things simple, as they are. Afterall, everything is not a rocket science.