The holidays are nearing, and even though we all know that they’ll be here sooner than later, many of us will procrastinate and wait until the last minute before we burst into a frantic last minute shopping drive.

Fortunately, rushing to buy gifts at the last minute isn’t as difficult as it used to be thanks to the smartphone.

With one in hand, it’s possible to remain relatively sane while zig-zagging around town looking for the most elusive of gifts — the day before it’s needed.

Given the rapid rise in smartphone penetration, it’s no surprise that quite a few people use their mobile devices as a shopping assistant during the holiday season.

In fact, Google predicts that this year mobile devices will be a life-saver for a significant minority of searchers. “Based on historical growth rates,” Google sees 44% of searches for last minute gifts and store location queries coming from mobile devices this holiday season.

According to Google, there are high-value searches as “65% of high end device users report that they have used their device to find a business, and then made a purchase at that business in person“.

What’s more: the effect could be immediate. The search giant suggests that last minute holiday searches may often be driven by consumers who “have missed the deadline for free shipping and are motivated to locate and shop at brick and mortar locations”.

The implication for retailers: if you don’t have a mobile strategy this holiday season, you’re at a huge disadvantage.

Of course, Google hopes that mobile strategies will increasingly call for investment in Google Mobile Ads, but as beneficial as mobile marketing may be, mobile strategy is about more than just marketing.

Savvy retailers hoping to capitalize on opportunities in the coming months would be wise to consider the importance of offering a mobile-optimized website (or native app) that makes it easy for potential customers to identify store locations and to determine which products are available (read: in stock) at those locations.

After all, a mobile consumer looking for specific products doesn’t just want to know where your stores are; she wants to know, at a minimum, which stores have those products and how much they cost.

Today, offering anything less than this is a losing proposition even with the most robust mobile marketing campaign.