While it doesn't amount to a majority, 45 percent of vehicle orders at dealership websites that provide online checkout happen between 4 p.m. and 5 a.m. (local time of buyer), according to a recent Drive Motors analysis.
The company broke down the remaining 55 percent as follows: 38 percent happen during the meat of the workday (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and 17 percent are put in from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m.
These statistics are important for dealers to bear in mind heading into extended holidays like Labor Day weekend, where potential buyers have more time in their schedules for car-buying, says Aaron Krane, chief executive officer of the company that provides an ecommerce platform for dealers.
“People want to buy cars when they can relax … they want to be comfortable. They want to have time,” Krane said by phone this week.
“What that means is, they like to buy it when they’re at home — i.e., relaxed. They like to buy it after dinner — i.e., comfortable,” he said. “And they like to buy it after work or on the weekends so that they’re in no rush, so they feel like there’s no pressure and they can take their time.”
So what does this mean for dealers? “It shows that customers will close themselves, even when the store itself is closed — which is a huge, massive opportunity for additional sales at no added overhead cost to any dealership,” Krane said.
Interestingly enough, he finds that many customers who have bought online during these off-the-clock hours will end up picking up their car at the dealership rather than waiting for delivery.
“I think the same enthusiasm and excitement that moves a customer to close themselves and order a car directly online at midnight or 6 p.m. on Friday is the same excitement that then propels them to the dealership within a period of 24 hours or less to drive that car off the lot,” he said, “which we’re seeing happening at least 50 percent of the time.”
Cashing in on Labor Day
Automakers are taking advantage of the additional off-the-clock hours, too, NADA Used Car Guide said in a news release this week.
Consumers have more time to shop, and those who are financially qualified “may find summer's last weekend the best time to score great financing and lease rates,” the company said.
Jonathan Banks, executive analyst at NADA Used Car Guide, said in the release: “We're seeing several deals in almost all segments. Everything from zero-percent financing to 6-year financing terms with cash back are on the table.”
And the industry may be wise to take advantage, particularly after a somewhat slow August on the new-car side.
“It wasn't exactly a blockbuster month in August, so that puts extra pressure on the industry to step up its game in September, especially this coming Labor Day weekend,” Edmunds.com executive director of industry analysis Jessica Caldwell said in a commentary. “We're at a critical time where dealers need to clear out 2016 inventory to make room for 2017s, and that's good news for shoppers who will see some great deals on outgoing models in the coming weeks.”