The holiday bump in online car buying might not just be limited to one massive day of shopping.
At least that was the recent experience of Drive Motors, which provides ecommerce solutions to auto dealers.
The company reported a year-over-year increase in vehicle orders on dealer websites using the Drive Motors checkout during each of the five days from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday.
Overall, orders through Drive Motors were up 83 percent throughout the weekend, with somewhat surprising spikes for Saturday (up 164 percent) and Sunday (up 93 percent), according to the company.
“I think what we are observing with online commerce for automobiles is not so much a Cyber Monday phenomenon as a ‘Cyber Holiday Weekend’ phenomenon,” Drive Motors chief executive Aaron Krane said in a phone interview Wednesday.
“We attribute this to the fact that a car is a less impulsive purchase and so forcing it on any arbitrary day may not be optimal, i.e. on a Monday,” he said.
“However, it is definitely very appropriate for the overall holiday weekend,” Krane said. “And so as opposed to just seeing a massive spike on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, for automobiles, we saw massive spikes for the entire duration in between, as well.”
Given that buying a car is not so much an impulse purchase, but one that requires some research and mulling over, a 72-hour buying hour might make more sense than the 24-hour time frame of a Black Friday or Cyber Monday, Krane said.
“When I think of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, I think impulse purchase,” he said. “And as it turns out, to translate that excitement into an automobile promotion, you just need to extend let’s call it the impulse window to a little larger (time frame), like three or four days.”
‘Your showroom is for showing’
Going back to the 93-percent spike in orders on the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend, Drive Motors says this may indicate some of its online car buyers spent Friday and Saturday visiting dealerships before buying the car at home on Sunday.
Krane contends this data points to a growing trend of buyers preferring the showroom being more of a research and educational experience rather than a purchasing one.
“The data indicates that the vast majority of buyers want to visit a dealership showroom, but do not want to purchase during that visit,” he said. “They want to start during that visit, and they want to finish later that night or the following day.
“And so that’s the trend that we continually observe, and that’s what we try and teach dealers about. Your showroom is for showing. It’s not a sales room. It’s not actually for selling,” Krane said. “It’s for showing and educating and getting people started, and then letting them finish at home, which we call ‘couching’ your own deal instead of getting ‘desked,’ so to speak.
“And that trend seems to be reflected in the data as well, which is why when people have more free time, that’s when the orders really spike,” Krane added.
Best days to buy used
Speaking of Turkey Day and buying cars, Thanksgiving and Black Friday were found to be among the 10 best holidays for purchasing used cars, according to an analysis from iSeeCars.com.
The best? Veteran’s Day.
After analyzing more than 48 million used-car sales from January 2013 through December 2016, iSeeCars found that Veteran’s Day tends to have 43.2 percent more deals than the average day.
Black Friday was second (37.5 percent more), and Thanksgiving Day was fourth at 33 percent. In fact the entire top five were holidays taking place in November or December, which were the two best months for finding a used-car deal, according to iSeeCars.
November has 38.4 percent more deals on used cars than the average day, with December not far behind at 38.2 percent, according to iSeeCars.
Other holidays in this time frame in the top 10 were Christmas Eve at No. 3, Christmas Day at No. 5 and New Year’s Eve at No. 7.
“Dealers are trying to meet their annual goals in November and December, and are more likely to lower their profit margins in order to do so,” iSeeCars CEO Phong Ly said in a news release. “Fortunately, those who miss the main holiday shopping rush get additional opportunities to take advantage of sales surrounding New Year’s Day and on Martin Luther King Day.”
The worst chance of finding a deal? Mother’s Day, where there are 29.8 percent fewer deals on used cars. Memorial Day wasn’t far behind with 29.5 percent fewer deals. May was the worst month, with 28.3 percent fewer deals.
iSeeCars determines a “deal” to be a vehicle that has savings of 5 percent or more.