Real-time means something a little different to everyone. The term is too-often used to describe getting information on what happened up to the moment, a rolling report of the history of something – like customer purchases, staffing costs or inventory levels. It’s like asking what time it is. There’s only an accurate answer for that one-dimensional question at one moment, then time moves on.
But what if real-time can mean something much different? In the event-driven marketing realm, it does. We’re going through a transformation of the meaning of real-time driven by the increasing ability to know what’s happening simultaneously across a customer – their history, their location, our location, inventory, pricing, and more.
Hoping the needles move
Real-time’s new definition is about being able to anticipate the scenarios that move a customer to make a purchase, taking advantage of distributed inventory, rescuing an abandoned shopping cart and driving business to the web and store. It isn’t a dashboard to watch and hope the needles move. It is a way to anticipate and act in the actual moments that matter the most.
There’s a historical component to this kind of real-time, but it’s part of the context, not the answer.
But redefining the term isn’t enough. It has to be backed by event-driven marketing that connects all of those dots and provides a measurable advantage over the competition. For some retailers, this is a known fact. For the rest, they’ll know soon enough.
This article was first published in the Loyalty Lab blog and has been lightly edited.