In a recent Evergage whitepaper, we made a comparison between real-time marketing and a decades-old example of good business – the neighborhood shopkeeper. The analogy is simple. The shopkeeper has two goals in mind when a customer enters the store: first, he wants to understand her immediate need so that he could provide the best service right now. Second, he wanted to get to know her better and begin building a lasting business relationship. Just like the shopkeeper, your e-commerce site must engage a visitor in real time, the moment he or she arrives, in order to be successful.

Interestingly enough, store retailers are beginning to reinvest in the importance of a more personalized and “real-time” in-store experience. Whereas many retailers strive to keep profits high by keeping labor costs low, others are recognizing the importance of highly trained staff in the retail experience. Brands such as Costco, Trader Joe’s, convenience store chain QuikTrip and Italian supermarket Mercadona are all examples of retailers with substantially higher labor costs than their competitors. That’s not all they have in common. They are also among the most profitable retailers in their respective markets.

That’s not a coincidence. An extreme example is of this principle is Uniqlo, a Japanese fashion retailer that recently opened a flagship location on Fifth Avenue. When the store opened it employed 650 trained associates, and vowed to have at least 400 on staff at any given time. As a result, there is always an associate on hand to help a customer find what she’s looking for, and someone to help her check out in “real time” without waiting in long queues. Customer service that would make the shopkeeper proud.

The consumer experience has certainly changed, but the principles of effective marketing have not. Retailers like Uniqlo understand the importance of personalized “real-time” customer service even in the store. It’s just as important on your website. Maybe even more. Unlike associates in a store, you may never even see a potential customer try to leave without the right strategy in place.

While many retailers are focusing on the in-store experience, many are also closing their store locations to focus on online business. In recent news, Staples announced it was closing 225 stores to strengthen online sales. Best Buy also announced closing 50 stores to focus on e-commerce growth. And lastly, Home Depot said they will focus less on store openings and more on internet sales. As competition online grows, retailers must engage a shopper immediately and help them achieve their goal easily (just like the did at the retail store) before they choose to move onto another site. Real-time web personalization is the best solution to make this happen.

Here’s a good example of how it works for Black Hound New York. The dessert and bakeshop recently closed their retail location in NYC to focus on their online business. They’re using real-time web personalization to help website visitors learn more about their products, find what they’re looking for, and make sure that checkout is easy – just like they did at the retail store. For example, on the checkout page, they’re using real-time messages to give the visitor the information needed to check out quickly and correctly.

At the end of the day, it’s all about creating the best customer experience whether it’s in-store or online. By doing so, it will keep customers loyal, engaged, and away from the competition – all while driving more revenue for your company.