The commerce game is increasingly being played on a mobile field and so consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies must invest in a mobile strategy and specifically a mobile payment strategy soon, before they miss the boat. 

One area of our economy slow to leverage mobile is the CPG industry. These often gigantic companies don’t usually interact with their customers directly, rather than do so through retailers, national advertising, and recently some social media.

Crafting a CPG mobile payment strategy is going to be hard, but well worth the cost and effort. One challenging aspect is the complex ecosystem. The players include financial service providers, mobile telco operators, mobile phone/OS manufacturers, and on-line payment providers. From JP Morgan to Apple to PayPal, it’s hard to determine the “who, how, when, and where” to partner to get maximum results. 

At the end of the day, the retailers still control much of the customer interaction and mobile-compatible device availability. Therefore, retailers are critical to a mobile strategy for CPGs. As retailers make investments in stores, such as beacons and mobile scanners, it will pave the way for CPGs to do more with their shoppers.

Imagine the shift possible with something as simple as the humble manufacturer’s coupon. The average consumer would be surprised to learn that over $3.5 billion in such coupons are redeemed each year. Today, these are often still on paper or cardboard with limited ability to target or track them. Mobile coupons could allow CPG companies to customize coupons by customer, time, location, and offer. Then, they could track the redemption and learn more about their most loyal customers. The value of the data alone is worth the investment!

Optimizing and digitizing manufacturer’s coupons is cool, but there is so much more. Proctor & Gamble is one of many CPG companies who sell their iconic brands directly to the customer via www.pgshop.com. Here, they can discount over stocked items, track customer behavior, and accept multiple payment types like PayPal.

While retailers will always be a great way to aggregate a lot of desperate brands, I’m not sure why I’m paying Amazon a mark-up on my monthly diaper shipment and not directly paying the manufacturer? Someday, the right mobile strategy could change the very structure of commerce. 

As in-store mobile technology moves from innovator to early adopter stage, CPG needs to keep up. We predict mobile’s presence in the retail environment will increase rapidly, resulting in in-store interactions with consumers via advertising, shopping lists, mobile applications, digital couponing, and mobile payments.

With mobile technologies increasingly evolving, it will be up to brands to adapt and accommodate such options. This evolution will, of course, come with growing pains but also create considerable benefits for both brands and consumers in the long run.

Kathleen Egan is vice president of services and analytics at Quri