Retail’s New Mobile-Based Pretzel: Forget Pyramids and Funnels

Throw out the pyramid and the funnel. The pretzel is the new paradigm for mobile-driven retail, according to panelists at the OMMA Mobile M Commerce event Oct. 22 in Los Angeles.

The age-old pyramid and funnel concepts have been driven by initial awareness, browsing and then transactions. But such linear thinking doesn’t make as much sense these days. Not when you are checking prices on an item, looking up reviews and receiving coupons on your phone all at once. According to United Future, 79 percent of smart phone owners are using their phones in stores. Moreover, 28 percent have used a coupon on their phone.

“The purchase funnel is becoming the purchase pretzel,” notes Scott Hendrickson, head of advertising solutions for PayPal Media Network. “They aren’t locked in the store. You may lose them,” he said. “It is a constant tangled web.”

The new challenge is “to control the pipe, control the data, and control customer engagement.” At the same time, the new environment now gives retailers and brands an :”opportunity to do new all kinds of things” around payments, data and scale.

None of it is easy, but Hendrickson predicts it will all come together in 2014. But first, customer adoption is critical. That may be easier said then done. Several panelists were overtly dismissive of key mobile technologies, including QR codes and NFC use for payments. They also noted that ewallets really won’t hit a stride until 2018-2020. Until Grocery stores and others start accepting them, ewallets may be largely focused on narrow niches with occasional uses, such as Starbucks, Abercombe & fitch, airline tickets, movie tickets and Uber car limo rentals.

“It doesn’t matter about NFC. We have had NFC forever. And bar codes,” says Kolja Reiss, Managing Director, MoPay, Inc. “It is the service surrounding the product is what matters.”

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