Society

Pandemic features in apartment apps go into overdrive again

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New features. New features made newer still. Old features languishing in “disuse-ville”, dusted and polished to a gleam.

That is the three-part leitmotif wafting across the world of apartment-management apps.

With the second wave raging on, communities are ‘rediscovering’ the value of certain features that demonstrated their usefulness during the first. Based on data from representatives of two apartment-management app service providers on how these features stacked up in the first wave and during the ongoing surge, here is piecing together a picture of “the all-time favourite features”, their patronage even expected to arch beyond the pandemic.

Delivery feature

With the pandemic as trigger, blood is suddenly rushing into options that had almost atrophied due to indifferent patronage over a sustained period of time.

Ranjit Behara, head of marketing, MyGate, says “The ‘Leave at Gate’ in the delivery feature of MyGate suddenly shot into prominence. It was around in some form previously, but exercised sparingly. If someone was living alone, and not at home at the time of delivery, they might instruct via the app to leave the product at gate. That was about it. During the pandemic, it took centre stage, with many societies making it mandatory. In the first wave, it was well-utilised. Now, with this surge in cases, it is again being used in a big way. It will be always adapted to suit new situations.”

They want the pandemic to end, ‘Home Quarantine’ to continue
  • Reportedly, with a far-sighted view, one that takes in the future beyond the pandemic, users of apartment-management apps have marked for continued use, features essentially crafted to deal with this crisis.
  • Ranjit Behera, head of marketing, MyGate, names ‘Mask And Temperature Check’ and ‘Home Quarantine’ among features residents have earmarked for the “retain list”.
  • “Many communities want some of the essentially pandemic-related features to be continued well into the future; they say it is they who would take a call on what to keep and what to discard,” Ranjit discloses.
  • ADDA has Home Qurantine Tracker in its quiver, and as pointed out by Karnika Roy, marketing manager, brand and content, ADDA, has garnered significant upvotes from communities. Partly going by how it has been received, Karnika emphasises that it “can be used for any reasons for which a house has to be quarantined” not necessarily for a novel Coronavirus infection.

Karnika Roy, marketing manager, brand and content, ADDA, weighs in: “During this pandemic, the In-house Delivery Hub option in ADDA is majorly useful as it cuts down on the entry of delivery personnel inside the premises. We had a parcel management feature before COVID-19. We took the feature, revamped it to suit the needs raised by the pandemic. Even after the pandemic, if a community does not want to give unrestricted access to delivery personnel, they can continue using this feature without any changes to it at all.”

Staff feature

The pandemic has particularly thrown into bold relief, features relating to the management of support staff who help the cogwheels of the community turning.

“At ADDA, residents can certainly see who are the people working within the community. The admin — represented by the management committee or the resident welfare association — has data about which staff is going to which flat, and how many flats this staff is visiting. We have tried to restrict the visibility a little, as we want all the residents also to have their own privacy. However, for the purposes of maintaining the management of the community, the admin have to know,” says Karnika.

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MyGate offers profiles of the domestic help and support staff for the entire community to see, says Ranjit. It provides residents with an idea of the flats in the community that a domestic help is working for. So, it puts residents in a position to seek help during exigencies, says Ranjit, adding that during a pandemic, together with the Home Quarantine feature, it enables residents to make informed choices while seeking any help.

Shop at home

During the first wave, the feature that allows brands to wheel in their wares gained prominence, when residents started looking beyond just access to essentials.

The situation is said to have also opened resident welfare associations’ eyes to the opportunities for growth that this feature brings with it.

Says Karnika, “One thing we realised is that depending on their size, communities ended up spending anywhere from ₹50,000 to ₹2,00,000 per month on sanitising their entire premises. RWAs are non-profit organisations and they were really struggling to get their funds. That is when we realised we could be connecting people, helping these communities get in touch with brands. We created a system where different types of brands — FMCG, apparel and gadgets, for example — would come to the community and have pop-up stores and a mobile van. Following COVID-19 protocols, residents can avail the services of these brands. It is a symbiotic relationship.

The community earns some revenue that helps them cope with the COVID-19 experience. Secondly, the brands are also getting some business. They would stay for two to three days, or through a long weekend. From the ADDA part, we take care of the communication and promotion part of it.”

On brands setting up shop in communities, Ranjit says, “That will keep on happening. Fashion, eateries, furniture — these are among areas in which brands look for establishing a connection with communities. During the pandemic, the demand has shot up. Many brands have reached out to MyGate to open some kind of pop-up shops.”

Comfort plus safety

Karnika underlines that pandemic-related features make it to the residents’ hot-favourites list, not always for their safety quotient, but also the comfort factor that may ride piggy-back on it.

“Broadcast From Gate” on ADDA makes it to this list, reveals Karnika. The feature came in handy, particularly during the intense lockdowns, when vendors dealing in essentials wheeled into communities, day after day.

The admin would notify the time to all residents via this feature. Accustomed to the comfort this feature promotes, Karnika says, residents have checked it into the post-pandemic cart.

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Printable version | May 8, 2021 10:41:26 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/pandemic-features-in-apartment-apps-go-into-overdrive-again/article34288919.ece

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