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A site for sore eyes

Sathya Mithra Ashok | May 14, 2014
As a leading real estate agency in New Zealand, Bayleys has been working to improve its site shop front and back-end to ensure an improved customer experience

As Billings says, "The number one reason people visit the site is to search through our property listings. As a full-service business, we deal with a wide range of properties, and can have over 8,000 listings on the site at any one time. Being able to relay all that information to customers, at a glance, but also in a really simple, non-cluttered way, was crucial."

The planning sessions also resulted in additions to the site including email alerts; notifying users whenever a new property that matched their search was added to the site; and 'saved searches', a function enabling repeat visitors to save their search criteria.

With search identified as a key requirement in the new site, Bayleys went searching for a CMS to replace the existing technology.

"The previous solution was a proprietary build by previous development solution. That wasn't supported for last two years by the company because they had moved away from that product. It was clear to us that we needed to get a product that was going to be supported moving forward.

"We did look at a number of different solutions but the thing that drew us to SC was the massive amount of R&D that they put into the product to keep it up to date, and they are constantly bringing out new pieces of functionality, new versions, major upgrades to bring to the latest tech to the forefront of those using the technology.

"The decision was also made based on the fantastic marketing tools that Sitecore came with. It is a full marketing suite. That was going to allow us to grow with the business and allow us to develop the Bayleys online environment into a truly personalised and state of the art experience for our customers."

According to Billings, the team has been using more and more of Sitecore's functionality since its initial deployment and want to do a lot more with the app.

"The only thing is Sitecore is not quite off the shelf. You need to build with Sitecore in mind, build a Sitecore site. You need to partner with a technology business that understands how Sitecore works and build a site that uses it," says Billings.

The current site is hosted in a Revera data centre environment with full redundancy and fail-over capacity, which was critical for the business.

Data deluge
Bayleys started the process to relaunch the site in early 2011, but it wasn't until August 2012 when it went live.

"Data would be the main hold up. With our listing data we have got properties and data associated with them. During this period we were not only building a new site with new functionalities, but also rebuilding the central database that held all the data. That was underpinning the entire site and structure.


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