The future is mobile. At least that’s what many suggest. Yet multi-channel retailers are largely ignoring mobile right now.

That’s according to a report from Multichannel Merchant. It found that, as of February 2010, four out of five multi-channel retailers surveyed were not doing anything in the realm of mobile commerce.

Of those who are active with m-commerce, slightly less than 11% are using mobile ads to lure shoppers, and just 6.5% have a mobile website. Even fewer (under 5%) have an iPhone app, distribute mobile coupons or purchase mobile search ads.

If mobile is going to be one of the most important channels going forward, why do so many multi-channel retailers seem to be indifferent when it comes to being ahead of the curve on mobile commerce? According to eMarketer, Multichannel Merchant’s report suggests that consumers are just starting to dabble with mobile commerce, meaning the market is still relatively small. And mobile carriers’ “failure to keep up with consumer demand” is a deterrent to investment.

Needless to say, it’s somewhat disheartening to see that multi-channel retailers are taking it so slow with mobile. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Multi-channel strategies are hard to implement successfully, and mobile is a challenging channel. From dealing with a multitude of devices and platforms to interface limitations, multi-channel retailers will have a lot to address if they want to ‘get it right‘ with mobile.

Given this, it’s not entirely surprising that retailers are being cautious. It’s the prudent thing to do. But as mobile platforms mature, new mobile ad options proliferate, and new kinds of mobile devices hit the market providing for new experiences, expect more and more multi-channel retailers to test the waters over the coming years, even if they don’t jump in head first.

Photo credit: Gap.