When discussing website personalization we often refer to it as delivering “right message for the right customer at the right time.”

Though it’s become a bit of a buzz phrase, it also carries with it some historical importance. And that’s something to know more about.

To understand where the idea of the “right message for the right customer at the right time” came from, we need to travel back in time to the mid-twentieth century when Taiichi Ohno developed the Just-In-Time (JIT) production strategy at Toyota. JIT is a strategy and practice for “supplying what is needed, when it is needed, and in the amount needed.” Although developed for manufacturing and used on the shop floor with the goal of controlling inventory levels and cutting costs, the JIT strategy, at its core, helps to increase customer satisfaction by providing an overall better customer experience.

The shift from thinking about JIT and how it works on the shop floor to how it works in marketing and ecommerce is not that difficult.

In a similar way, marketers can help create, or manufacture, a personalized experience for each customer. That’s done by delivering the right message, offer or product at the right time. If you think about it, this process helps eliminate waste, in the form of time, for the customer, because a personalized customer experience is much more relevant and reduces the amount of time that a customer might take to convert.

Of equal importance for the marketer: using the JIT strategy for personalizing a customers’ experience also eliminates overproducing or over-delivering content that might not be as relevant.

So, now know you know the origin of a very common phrase. Over time, as a core principle and strategy, JIT helped Toyota become one of the largest, most successful companies in the world. The challenge now is to put some meaning and discipline into making it a part of your everyday business and marketing plans and see where it will take your company.