To a certain extent, the assumption that more people go online when the weather isn’t up to much is a pretty obvious one to make. How many of us take one look at the precipitation and obvious chill in the air and think that a cup of tea and a bit of sofa surfing wouldn’t be preferable to actually leaving the house?
When the weather is bad, the high street suffers – generally speaking, that is. According to the ONS the real picture is really rather complicated, with only the most sustained cold or hot snaps having any significant impact. However, ask a high street shop owner if business suffers when it’s cold and wet of a single day and more often than not, they’ll confirm this to be the case.
Big retailers, such as supermarket chains, use advanced analytics based on weather forecasts across the country as well as social monitoring (all whom take to Twitter to talk about the weather are a source of big data…) to plan their stocking strategies. They don’t want to be caught off-guard with inappropriate stock when the weather takes a turn for the better or worse.
Motor retailers can also use the analytics at their disposal to plan for changes in the weather. Whilst their general stocking strategies are far more defined by seasonality and what’s actually available at any one time, the finer points of what consumers do when it’s a big groggy out can certainly help them convert more leads.
We undertook some pretty simplistic analysis to look at the correlation between the weather and website hits. Quite simply, we looked at five locations covering most of the UK, the web visits they experienced and the weather on those days (temperature and precipitation). To make it a fair test we looked at Saturdays (when people would often go out shopping) during late spring and summer – when bad weather is far more impactful than during our dreary winter months. It’s also the period when the plate change furore has died down.
Here’s what we found.
As you can see, there’s a clear interdependency between rain, heat and website visits. Of course, the upwards trend in temperature means that this is a constantly moving goal post, but the trend remains. Looking at the 10th and 24th of May as well as the 28th of June where the average temperature was much lower than other weeks and the spikes in visits is also clear.
It’s easier to look at the effects of precipitation. For example:
- Between 0 and 3mm of rainfall and the average number of visits across our sites is 3,508.
- Between 3.1mm and 6mm the average is 3,928 – 11.9% up.
- Between 6.1mm and 9mm, the average is higher still, at 3,988 – or 13.7% up on 0-3mm.
- The 9.1-12mm sector sees 4,057 visits – 15.6% up on 0-3mm.
- Finally, 12.1mm and above and our sites are 23.3% up on 0-3mm at 4,324 visits.
In some cases, and certainly in the case of our aggregated graph above, there is a ‘cross-over’ point between average temperature and web visits. Across the five clients monitored this is typically between 20 and 24 degree Celsius. Whilst this is somewhat artificial based on the scale of the graph, it is representative of the summer lull.
Clearly, there is a big opportunity for motor retailers in keeping a keen eye out on the weather. Whilst booked in visitors are less likely to be perturbed by poor conditions, those at the earlier stages of the buying journey are open to influence when they’re stuck inside to avoid the murk. They will be online, browsing their options and firing off enquiries. Those dealers that are aware of this opportunity will capitalise.
Dealers need to actively monitor digital enquiry channels – such as enquiry forms, email and live chat – and respond to queries quickly. We know that quick response times tend to convert the enquirer to sale far more effectively and whilst the consumer may not physically move far beyond the fridge, they could ultimately be moved to transact with the business that’s best at responding.
Bearing in mind the drop-off in visits when the sun finally does come out, an alteration to the old saying would seem to sum up the opportunity nicely: It’s always best to save up for those sunny days.