Keller Williams announced Monday it is releasing KW Marketplace, its proprietary “app store,” into the general KW Labs community, which will allow agents to start using the platform in its testing phase.
The platform, integrated into the Keller Cloud, creates an open architecture feel, bringing the company’s tech platform closer to what Realogy offers agents, with the option of a full, free, end-to-end experience being sought by other competitors such as RE/MAX and Compass.
It’s not necessarily a shift in focus away from building the end-to-end experience, Jeff Tamaru, Keller Williams’ head of corporate development told Inman.
“I think that’s from listening to our agents very early on that there’s never going to be one solution that solves all of their business needs,” Tamaru said.
“Once we had a platform that was in in the right place, it was strong enough to still support a lot of these other business services, we always wanted to have an open platform, where we were able to surface up different data feeds that we’re collecting in our platform, always at the agents’ discretion.”
The platform fits into the company’s Keller Cloud Innovator Program, where the company collaborates with startups and outside tech companies to enhance the business of its own agents through Keller Cloud, the company’s proprietary real estate cloud for agents.
Within the new platform, Keller Williams agents can access a number of third-party solutions, including Porch, DocuSign, Google, First American, Market Leader, BoomTown and others. The company said it’s had interest so far from hundreds of app developers.
Adding all of these tools to the end-to-end platform could muddy the waters a bit and give agents almost too options, but Tamaru isn’t too worried.
In a lot of cases, these integrations aren’t necessarily tools that Keller Williams is planning on building, and the company plans to analyze behavioral data to push the tools agents are using to the top.
“It’s kind of like, I’d say, you go into your app store on your iPhone, how many apps are you actually seeing out of the whole catalog?” Tamaru asked. “Apple’s done a really good job of surfacing the right products to the right consumers. That’s our end goal also.”
“At the end of the day, what we’re trying to provide with Command and kind of the core Keller platform is a base platform that operates, and it gets them to where they need to go, we want to be the best-in-class experience. We want it to be at no additional cost to our agents,” Tamaru added.
Obviously, the Keller Williams tools are ostensibly free — agents pay for them with their fees to the franchisor — and these other integrations may come at a cost to the specific agent. But Keller Williams is also exploring partnerships to give agents discounts.
Keller Williams beta-tested the Marketplace in the first quarter of the year. As the platform is released to the general labs users, Keller Williams will continue to examine how its agents are interacting with the platform and do more broad user testing.
The next focus will be on developer tools and a developer portal for those partners to innovate on their own.
Unlike the rest of the company’s proprietary tech tools, Keller Williams didn’t build the entire platform in-house and instead tapped AppDirect, an end-to-end commerce platform, on the development of KW Marketplace.
“We definitely did a lot of calculation, is this something that we wanted to build and maintain and kind of continue to focus on, or do we want to find someone who’s kind of a best in breed partner here, that’s where AppDirect came in,” Tamaru said.
“And we decided we want to put 100 percent of our engineering staff on making the Keller Cloud experience as awesome as it can be, so focusing on the core, command, consumer, kind of everything in between, while at the same time letting AppDirect really focus on making the Marketplace experience as phenomenal as they can, handling a lot of the complexity like things like billing engines.”
The KW Marketplace is available to agents through Command, the company’s proprietary customer relationship management tool.