Real-time Market Hypothesis - how real-time phenomenon will kill online retailing as we know it today!!

What do you think are the real reasons behind the success of online retailing?
I mean why would people willingly agree to wait for a week to get their favourite book from  Amazon and Rediff when they can buy it today from a bookstore. Agreed, it works out slightly cheaper and you don't have to take the pain of driving down to your neighborhood book store. But is that all... that makes you purchase things online?...I doubt it...I think our ability to delay gratification plays a much more important role here than what we have been giving it credit for. If you are in your late 20s or early 30s, you have spent quite a bit of time in pre-internet era and may not even realize that you are practicing "delayed gratification"; it's part of your personality, deeply ingrained in your brain by your parents; but if you belong to gen-Y, you probably can't imagine a life without instant messaging, twitter, digg etc. You'd refuse to believe that just a few years back people had to wait for weeks to receive their snail mails and didn't make them kill themselves!! The truth is - for gen-Y, the real-time phenomenon is just a logical extension to their email and social networks and soon there'll be more number of gen-Y in this world than baby boomers. 

On a social networking website, do you ever bother checking your friends old status messages..I doubt if you just care 'bout their current messages...that's what matters...a recent research revealed that the probability of a tweet getting retweeted drops dramatically after just 10 seconds from the time when a message is tweeted. What does it tell us about people, perhaps that they just care about the tweets they get in real-time...

Now you might be wondering what has all of it got to do with the "real-time killing online retailing" - well first of all please excuse me for posting a half-baked idea but I guess that's what web2.0 is all about - making mistakes and learning from them - "quickly" - ok - here's the thing...if you are hit by real time live in the want to know things exactly when they happen...not after 5 hours..that's why you follow Ashton Kutcher and Shashi Tharoor on Twitter and not wait for next day's extrapolate that to buying things...a person with real-time mindset will want her things exactly when she wants it or whatever comes or for that matter any other online retailer cannot cater to this emerging need with their existing business models. I'm talking about physical things here...books and music can be transferred digitally...When this real-time need becomes dominant...and trust me we are not too far from retailing as we know it...will slowly give way to a new business model...I don't know what'd that be but I believe brick and click retailers might be able to adapt themselves with much more ease than the pure plays. Perhaps a new business model "click+brick+kiosk" will become popular. 

Let's call this hypothesis - "Real-time Market Hypothesis (RMH)". huh!.. [ I'll think about a fancy definition on the lines of EMH and put it here some other time...]...  I do understand that.. it sounds a little strange (stupid?) for anyone to take it seriously, so, allow me to substantiate my claim with some evidence...solid evidence!!..if you have the time...take a look at the following emerging the time you finish reading this list, I'm sure you'll agree with me that a new real-time retail model is just waiting to be discovered...thanks to the increasing popularity of real-time phenomenon...

1. Why is one of the most popular websites in the US (these guys get 1 million new users every month) - Milo's mission is to track every product on every shelf of every store in real-time. is building a bridge between online and in-store commerce that empowers the consumer to access the best of both shopping worlds—all in one place.
2. Kindle and iPad - Look at the soaring sales figure of these two gadgets. Besides other reasons, it's also about equipping oneself to get things in real-time. 
3. Why netflix and blocbuster are losing out to movie rental kiosks? You know who's the shining star in the movie rental business. It's neither netflix (pure play online retailer), nor blockbuster (offline+online retailer); it's an upstart company called Redbox that runs movie-rental kiosks. Redbox caters to the real-time need. When you need a movie at 2 am in the morning, you can drive to the nearest kiosk and get it (in real-time!!). You neither have to wait till next morning (to get it from blockbuster) nor wait for 2-3 days (to get it from netflix). You are the real-time go get it from the redbox kiosk. Now you see the point I'm trying to drive here :-)... Check this link to see how blockbuster was warned about this potential trend well in advance but they refused to pay heed. 
4. Twitter study - 90% of retweets happen with-in 10 seconds of tweet and that too between 1 pm and 3 pm in the afternoon. Even if your tweet is most retweetable thing in the world and you send it late in the night, not many people are going to see next morning...because people have strated living in real time...if you want their got to catch them in real time...there are so many things happening..who has the time to take a break and see what you tweeted 10 hours back..10 hours is like life time..
5. Nowism - In Novmenber 2009, identified and published a report on a new mega trend they call "Nowism".  According, a lust for instant gratification is being satisfied by a host of novel, important (offline and online) real-time products, services and experiences. Consumers are also feverishly contributing to the real-time content avalanche that’s building as we speak. As a result, they expect brands and companies to have no choice but to finally mirror and join the ‘now’, in all its splendid chaos, realness and excitement.


  1. Kevin Hillstrom, the President of MineThatData and author of 3 best selling books says he found my "Real-time Market Hypothesis" article interesting!! wow -

  2. Tauqueer, dude, i enjoyed your post...well written and good thoughts. To your point, Netflix realised their non-real-time model and now offers a large collection of real-time streaming movies to your PC or TV using PS3\xbox\wii\netflix box. :-)


  3. Hey Puneet - Thanks for dropping by. It'll be interesting to see how the "netflix v/s blockbuster v/s redbox" thing turns out!!

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