““Clareity’s new dashboard design is modern, mobile responsive and easy to navigate. Launching this new dashboard was a seamless transition for our customers. We’ve received positive feedback,” said Merri Jo Cowen, CEO of MFRMLS.
Clareity brought in design and user experience (UX) experts Iteration Group to ensure the most professional and modern UI and UX. Iteration Group is respected for various clients including Quickbooks, NBC Universal, and Illumination Entertainment (Despicable Me – minions!) as well as popular apps Angie’s List and ChowNow. With Iteration Group’s design expertise and Clareity’s knowledge of the real estate industry, the two teams collaborated to create the “dream dashboard” for agents, brokers and other real estate professionals.”
Clareity changed their business model awhile ago, from an “app store”, to a site where agents can find out information about products then request more information. Those leads are then sent directly to the vendor They call this “Discover”. We have been testing this and getting a good amount of leads.
One quibble about this press release and maybe this is just an oversight. But, if you are going to tell how “modern” and “sleek” your new dashboard is, can you at least including a screen shot?
Not the post I was expecting to read from reading the title. I thought NAR’s Annual Conference had moved to Colorado.
I’ve written about decreasing the “friction” of customers signing up for your products and services. My company still does a lot of transactions at live events (demos and trade shows). I found its much better to close deals at the event and not rely on them signing up when they get home.
To do this we still have to rely on paper order forms.
This is due to mostly crowd control issues. If a single presenter is doing a Cloud Streams demonstration to 40 people in a room there is no easy way for those attendees to sign up for the service asynchronously other than a paper order form.
I see more and more REALTORS coming to events with their digital devices, but filling out an online form by taping on a screen (whether an tablet or iPhone) is still a cumbersome process.
Yesterday Apple announced a brand new service called Apple Pay. They are also releasing an API for developers. With this service you can order online product with the Touch ID button on your iPhone. No forms to fill out, and a receipt is emailed you automatically.
Imagine the scenario at a presentation where after your demo you direct an attendee to a website address and have them click a choice of Monthly or Yearly Plan and then use Touch ID to sign up. That’s it. Boom.
I heard through the grapevine (do they have grapevines in Arizona?) that last week at the 2015 Leadership SummitDale Stinton announced a new partnership with Clareity Security, dubbed the “NAR Portlet Project“. Despite the unfortunate name it seems like another big win for Clareity. Clareity will begin implementing NAR Resource Portlets in about 18 to 200 local and state associations in August and September. Which should reach about 100,000 members. The new “Portlets” fit into’s Clareity’s SSO Dashboards.
A lot of members get to their MLS system through their local association’s website but its not clear whether 3rd party vendors participating with Clariety’s App Store will be displayed on this new association dashboards.
Overall I think this is great for NAR. They have a lot of resources that not a lot of members know about (REALTOR University, .Realtor domain name site, MVP member benefits, and of course RPAC). Clareity strategy seems pretty clear, they want their Dashboards to be in front of as many agents as possible. Makes a helluva a lot sense to me.
Looks like Tracy Weir has been busy. After leaving Inman News she started a company called Eight11, which does consulting. On the Eight11 blog she has also been doing a great job of reviewing products in the real estate space. Tracy is now focusing her efforts on helping MLS providers with their own product offerings.
She plans on meeting with MLS providers at the CMLS 2013 in Boise this week. I asked her what she sees as opportunities and she replied:
Help launch and market products for technology companies and MLSs. For technology companies, that means positioning, messaging, outreach and full-service marketing communications. For MLSs, that means helping to adequately promote a new product (or repositioning or relaunching an existing product) and then doing all the things we do for technology clients for an MLS’s membership. The goal is to help products that are sold by technology companies get adopted by agents, so if MLSs happen to be in the mix, we can be like an extension of the MLS marketing team to strategize AND get stuff done.
Full service marketing communications: That means putting together all the high level stuff (like a strategic plan, creative ideation, branding, positioning, messaging) and then actually DOING the stuff, like website design, programming, SEO and content, social media campaigns; content marketing; email campaigns; print materials; print and digital advertising; event planning, production and communications; and all the other bric a brac people use to market themselves.
If Eight11 can help sell more products to agents through MLS providers, then we all win.
““The momentum is building every day with MLS operators and the vendor/merchant community. In addition to deploying dozens of regional stores in 2013, we are also adding three to four new merchants and numerous products to the Store’s master catalog each week. My team is looking forward to the Inman Connect conference as the place for us to build new relationships with the vendor community,” Larson added.”
I sat in on the first one of these webinars that RET put on and was impressed.
How to Increase Your Chances of Success with eCommerce
Reserve Your Seat Today!
Many MLSs are now considering offering additional products and services to their members.
Come to the RE Technology webinar on Wednesday, May 8th at 11:00 am PDT (2 pm Eastern, 1 pm Central) and learn how to increase your chances of non-dues revenue success with eCommerce.
Learn from Lauren Emery, CEO of IRES MLS, one of the first MLSs to offer eCommerce who will share her early experiences with eCommerce. Also, get a peek at RE Technology’s affordable solutions for eCommerce.
What the fundamentals of eCommerce are and what does it take to be profitable
Discuss ways that you can make eCommerce a win/win for your subscribers and the MLS
How to avoid the “build it and they will come” trap
How to determine what products to sell and at what price
Identify ways to attract technology companies and valuable revenue sharing opportunities
How to entice subscribers to visit your store frequently and purchase often
Criteria you can use to evaluate which approach is right for you
Industry Panelists Include:
Lauren Emery, CEO of IRES MLS Marilyn Wilson, Founding Partner of WAV Group.
“I heard about Forecast, but I couldn’t find it in the App Store. How do I get it?”
“You don’t get it from the App Store: just go to http://forecast.io/ on your phone, and you’ll be given instructions on how to download it.”
“Wow, this is great! I didn’t know you could get apps outside the App Store!”
We’ve had conversations like this dozens of times since launching Forecast. They usually comes from people who have an iPhone but aren’t particularly tech savvy, and I’m fairly certain none of them will ever know that Forecast is actually a web app. To them, it’s just an app you install from the web.
Great insight in to the whole native vs. web app debate. You should also check out Forecast, its my favorite weather app and its not available on iTunes.
“Offering competitive and meaningful core services plus introducing a store offers MLS organizations a bridge to the future of the MLS delivery of service,’ said Gregg Larson, Clareity’s president and CEO, in a blog post.
‘This goes way beyond offering a standalone app store. This is about creating a super personalized and convenient way for products to be ‘one-click’ ordered and provisioned to MLS subscribers while creating a seamless experience for members to access all of their products and services.”
I’ve had many inquires from other vendors asking my opinion on “MLS App Stores”. All of these inquires were either related to FBS’s Spark Platform (“Spark”) or Clareity’s ClareityStore. With that in mind I thought I would put together a post to give a little comparison and insight to both solutions. I do encourage you to get the information for yourself. Both solutions have put up very informative websites:
At this time Clareity has yet to launch a ClareityStore implementation. But many MLS providers on their list are some of the largest in the country. So, I am basing my information found on the above website and conversations with Clareity staff.
In contrast Spark has close to 70 MLS providers (mostly smaller, but some larger) up and running. You should also know that I shared this post with both companies ahead of time to make sure I had my facts right. But I’m sure I missed something so I will be providing updates/corrections as I get feedback.
Some longtime vendors have argued that they already know how to sell to larger MLS providers. In that case the Spark platform might be a good solution to expanded their market. I think new vendors will appreciate all options. Which is why I think there is room for both solutions. Now let’s get into it.
To me the single biggest difference between both solutions is the Spark API. Clareity does not at this time have any solution of integrated MLS data in to your software application. Like many others, Clareity hopes RESO will come to the rescue, at some point, with a data standard for all of real estate. Other vendors don’t care because they already have a method for integrating MLS data in to their app. As said previously, new vendors will appreciate not spending anytime worrying about data integration and instead focusing on creating great software applications. With Cloud CMA we have a hybrid solution that I will talk about later in this post.
Below is a simple comparison chart that highlight the key aspects of both solutions.
*Spark’s revenue share is only 10% if you are using other methods of getting MLS data, not their Spark API.
Other Important factors:
Neither solution requires you to be exclusive. Meaning if I sign up for Spark or the ClareityStore I can also sell my product through other channels. This is important, if you already have an outside sales force who is successful at office meetings, live presentations, or trade shows they are not required to use this store.
While both solutions require you implement a SSO method (Oauth or SAML) in the case of Spark you are not required to use their API for data integration.This was a big misunderstanding based on a lot of my phone calls with other vendors.
ClareityStore has a Turbo Seller Plan, which also offers 10% revenue share but requires 100% revenue share for the first 3 months of subscription.
Use case example: Cloud CMA
In the case of Cloud CMA we continue to use our own RETS integration with our existing MLS customers, even if they have opted for the Spark Platform. With new MLS providers on the Spark Platform, , that our not our customers, we have taken advantage of the Spark API. This hybrid solution has worked well because it lets up tap in to the “long tail” of MLS providers we typically would not have integrated with due to their size/location/time.
Alternative uses for MLS App Stores.
In the future MLS App Stores may also help in decreasing the “friction” of customers signing up for your service. Here are some classic scenarios.
What I mean by this is that in any outside or inside sales effort there is always that moment of truth, where they ask the fateful question. “VISA, Mastercard, or American Express?” In an live presentation environment rather than having them fill out a long order form with name, address, phone number, email address, etc wouldn’t it be a lot simpler to direct them to a web page and they just click a single button and “Boom” you’re done? I see a lot of agent bringing their iPads or notebooks to presentations nowadays. Could this increase your closing percentage from 50% to 60%? I think it might if implemented correctly.
One of the big factors of selling over the phone is trust. Sometimes agents are very wary of who is calling them, much less giving them credit card information over the phone. Imagine a situation where the rep is directed them to their MLS system (which they trust) and having them putting in a special promo code and clicking a single button to sign up for the service. Boom! Both the trust issue and friction of reading a 16 digit credit card number over the phone has been alleviated.
To me real estate software sales is still a belly to belly enterprise. MLS App Stores should serve as a perfect complement to your existing sales efforts. But, you should not solely rely on them. Adoption of these models will take some time. We are still very early in the game. Would I like to pay less than 30%? Of course I would. Everyone’s business model is a bit different so make sure you find the right one for you.