What is Real-Time Marketing in Retail?

What is Real-Time Marketing in Retail? 2500 1406 Chris Wilkie

Today’s consumers no longer wish or hope for everything to be instantly available, right at their fingertips – they expect it. This expectation is a by-product of our modern technology where people are now experiencing unparalleled levels of speed, mobility, and accessibility in obtaining information. To keep up with this new convention for immediate gratification and to ensure that consumers remain pleased, businesses are now marketing themselves in “real-time”.  

While “real-time marketing” might sound intimidating (or perhaps exhausting?), the good news is that it is a concept that’s far easier to implement than it sounds. 

In this article, we’ll take a look at what real-time marketing is, why it can benefit your retail business, and what types of real-time marketing strategies would best fit your retail outlet.

What Is Real-time Marketing?

Real-time marketing (often referred to as RTM), is precisely how it sounds – it’s marketing that takes place in the moment. The “moment” itself can take many forms. With reference to retail, it can be:

  • The moment that your product becomes available and;
  • The moment that a customer requires your product.

To explain further, RTM is about using the “moment” to maintain a consistent relationship with your audience using the most favoured methods of communication. In essence, it connects you with your audience during crucial moments when engagement will be most fruitful.

Consider this example:

Your brand is currently hosting a promotional evening. Guests have been invited to enjoy your store and familiarise themselves with your products. You have provided eats and drinks to make the event more enticing. By taking a picture of your guests enjoying their time at your event and then instantly posting this to social media (think Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.), you have just marketed yourself in real-time. Your audiences will see this photo and they might pop in to join the festivities or they will be influenced by the beaming faces of your guests. 

What Are the Benefits of Real-time Marketing for Retailers?

According to a recent study by Monetate and eConsultancy, UK vendors have reported a 26% increase in conversion rates as a result of real-time marketing [1]. This statistic is an indication that real-time marketing can work effectively.

Wouldn’t you like the opportunity to increase your customer base by 26%, if not more? 

Real-time marketing has given retailers an opportunity to share their message in a specific context. It keeps you on your toes by ensuring that your marketing strategies and communication methods remain fresh, relevant, and up to date with the needs of your audience. 

When used correctly, real-time marketing also has the following benefits:

  • It creates meaningful engagement that customers appreciate. Real-time data can be collected to understand the desires of an audience. Businesses can then use this understanding to give consumers what it is they are looking for in an engaging manner. Social media channels, for example, can be used to reach out to an audience and then you can communicate with potential customers by opening up a dialogue with them whilst in the “moment”.  
  • It allows retail businesses to earn credibility. By feeding the need for instant gratification, your store will rise in credibility. This is not only because you are delivering on a promise but because real-time marketing allows you to identify a need before consumers know what they’re after. A good reputation is what thriving stores are built on. 
  • It gives you more marketing content to work with. Each “moment” gives you the opportunity to create small snippets of information that can be used for marketing purposes. For example, if a customer has just given your store an excellent review, you can immediately share your new credibility on social media or on a promotional board behind the till. 

What Types of Real-time Marketing Strategies Best Suit the Retail Industry?

We are now left with the question “how does one effectively engage the constantly-connected, ever-expecting, and demanding customer? 

To help you kickstart your RTM strategies, we’d like to share the following tactics with you to help you get your store and products seen, appreciated, and supported:

  1. Simply interact with your customers. Talk to your audiences both in-store and online. Respond to their queries instantly and reply with empathy and thoughtfulness – and always try to offer a solution or a promise to deliver. 
  2. Host events and share the hype. Product launches, promotional events, and even a casual sale are all scenarios where one could create a hype. You can share the build-up to the event, post photos and stories of the event itself, and then you can also ask guests for feedback on the event once it is over. This type of engagement gets consumers excited and stuck in “the moment”.
  3. Share breaking news. Everyone loves a little gossip, so why not share little secrets on what new ranges of products customers can expect or you can share news on how well your store is doing and what it has achieved. This is one way of bringing the moment to a customer by showing them what it is they want. 
  4. Offer visitors a free Wi-Fi hotspot. This form of marketing is becoming very popular. It allows store visitors the satisfaction of having instant access to the information they require. At the same time, you can market to them while they browse your shop. 


What’s important to note is that while real-time marketing can benefit brick-and-mortar stores, it’s also a great marketing tool for e-commerce businesses! By looking for those real-time moments and then sharing them at the right time and in the right space, you could be engaging your audiences and turning them into customer quicker than you could have ever imagined. 


[1] Monetate and eConsultancy Statistics

Photo by Kit Suman on Unsplash

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