An online car-buying pattern of ‘evening browsing, morning buying’ has emerged over the past year.
That’s according to motor retail technology specialist iVendi, which said today (May 11) that during the pandemic the busiest time for browsing through its platform was from 6pm to 9pm.
However, finance applications didn’t tend to be made until between 9am and 3pm the next day.
Chief executive James Tew said: ‘The majority of online car buying we have seen during the past 12 months follows this pattern and there is a very simple explanation.
‘Seventy-two per cent of digital sales are what we classify as ‘‘complex’’ and require dealer intervention.
‘Once the customer has chosen the vehicle they want online during the evening, there are still issues to resolve and this generally can’t be done until the next morning.’
He said the reasons included needing a part-ex valuation, buying an extended warranty, and questions about finance.
Phone, e-mail or using an iVendi Digital Deal the next morning was used to sort them out, and the sale was then usually completed with an online finance application.
Tew added that the pattern was there before the pandemic but had become more pronounced, especially during lockdowns when physical sales weren’t possible.
‘Essentially, the lesson from this is that only a minority of online car sales follow what we call a ‘‘happy path’’.
‘Just 28 per cent of buyers make a purchase that can be managed entirely digitally without any elements of the purchase requiring dealer involvement.
‘It underlines some of the trends that we have seen become prominent over the course of the pandemic.
‘The simplest is the need to enable online car reservations, meaning the buyer can make a payment to reserve a vehicle during evening browsing.
‘Importantly, it also shows the importance of connected retailing, where the same technology powers showroom and online sales.
‘When the three out of four customers who start their purchasing process digitally contact the dealer because of their more complex needs, it means that everyone is working from the same platform.
‘The question now is, with showrooms reopened, whether the digital trading patterns established during successive lockdowns such as this ‘‘evening browsing, morning buying’’ trend will continue into the post-pandemic era.
‘Over the next few months, it should become clear what the new normal looks like.’