NEW YORK: Marketers who look only at the immediate bottom-line effects of mobile shopper activity on retailing are missing important clues about the future, according to new research published in the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR).

"Mobile still is not a significant channel in driving actual purchases," writes Gian Fulgoni, CEO of measurement and analytics firm comScore, and Andrew Lipsman, the company's VP/Marketing and Insights, in The Future of Retail Is Mobile: How Mobile Marketing Dynamics Are Shaping the Future of Retail.

But as consumers become more comfortable with the portable platform, mobile is demanding a larger and larger share of interest from marketers.

As the JAR paper notes, "Data from Deloitte forecast that in 2016, mobile will have influenced $689bn in US in-store sales, up from just $158bn in 2012 – a compound annual growth rate of 45%.

"These mobile-influenced sales figures account for in-store product purchases for which a mobile device aided in the shopping experience."

The two authors identify another window into the future of a mobile-driven retail sector: channel growth, defined as the year-over-year rate of spending growth within the brick-and-mortar, desktop and mobile retail categories.

Mobile's 49% channel growth rate in the 2015 holiday shopping season "meant that it had an overall retail growth contribution of 1.2 points out of the total estimated retail growth of 3.9%," they report.

In other words, Fulgoni and Lipsman argue, "Mobile represented about 30% of the growth contribution, despite only directly contributing 2.4% of discretionary spending.

"That growth contribution outpaced that of desktop ecommerce and was not so far behind the 2.0% contribution of the brick and-mortar channel."

In the face of such powerful performance, the comScore team assert that marketers should take cues from big retailers like Amazon, eBay, Target and Kohl's, which have created successful mobile apps that address a broad range of customer needs.

Moreover, "Retailers that want to stay relevant will deliver seamless omnichannel shopping," Fulgoni and Lipsman add. "But recent data demonstrate that mobile is fast becoming the channel that will shape the future of retail."

Data sourced from Journal of Advertising Research; additional content by Warc staff