So the second day of judging at the Mobile Industry Awards is complete. Our thanks to Conor Pierce on his last day at Nokia (prior to the legal switchover to Microsoft, before the rumours start!), Andy Coughlin of LG, Jonathan Young, BlackBerry, and Ines Van Gennip of Samsung.
Today it was the turn of mobile retailers' top brass to come under the spotlight.
No early giveaway of the outcome... but I will spill one of the interesting takeaway points that got the judges talking. It's about the challenge for mobile retailing going forward.
Retailers know we are at a crossroads in purchasing patterns. Almost every purchase now begins online, so shopping has become at least a part-digital process.
Mobile is the most exciting tech sector. So how are we as an industry reacting to that? There are some interesting initial steps being taken. There are moves to incorporate digital signage, tablets and other displays in the retail process. But no-one has gone as far as changing the process itself.
As one of the panel reflected: 'Everyone is still saying, come into our store, we have something to sell you, we have a brand story to tell you. People do not want to come into store and sit meekly while they are entertained by a retailer. It doesn't work like that any more.'
You could go online and come in to store to find a personalised box containing everything you have already bought, with a sales assistant ready to walk you through set up. That same assistant could helpfully give you a tailored offer too – perhaps based around demographic data gathered online. There is even the possibility of customising devices (along the lines of Dell, or perhaps Moto Maker), and perhaps tariffs themselves.
'That whole digital journey is ripe for a complete revamp,' is how one panel member put it.
Argos' new digital store in Old Street is an example of some emerging ideas. You can see more about that in the video below.
Argos' new digital stores have tablets instead of catalogues, fresh
new design features and a FastTrack Service.
Is such an overhaul possible? And would it deliver a decisive competitive advantage?
Change eats up time and money. So I would only expect a mobile player to take big leap forward if they can see a way to make it pay. There is a lot of talk around Vodafone's sudden interest in retailing. Maybe its ambitions are simply to have a bigger footprint and go toe to toe with EE. Or maybe it sees a way to invest money in a new way of retailing... Now there's a thought.