5G can truly transform the retail experience | Source: Pexels

5G in 5 minutes for retailers

WIRELESS connectivity can transform the world.

A network like 5G isn’t special just because provides significantly faster connections and better audio/video capabilities, you’re missing out on the key ingredient – latency.

On traditional networks, high(er) latency causes a delay from the time a device ‘pings’ the network for information to the time it receives it.

With 5G, that’s set to reduce several times over, translating into better and faster connectivity. It’s the network that will help people drive sports cars at high speeds, via VR headsets in real-time. No exaggeration.

However, its impact on retail – although not as ‘exciting’ – is definitely huge. For the average retailer, according to an Ericsson report, here’s a sneak peak of the challenges that 5G networks can help you solve:

  1. Increasing customer expectations for a unique, personalized shopping experience, with customized products and offerings
  2. Increasing cost of retail space driving a move away from significant in-store stock to storing in central warehouses
  3. Trend towards omnichannel retail: retailers need to offer complete flexibility in sales channels
  4. E-commerce expansion has led to demand from customers to be able to conveniently shop from home

One of the emerging trends in retail is the need for personalized retail experiences. While augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies can support it, 5G is what will ultimately provide it with the necessary infrastructure.

The network provides high-speed in-store connectivity for rich content delivery, low latency enabling mobile AR/VR applications that do not cause nausea and motion sickness, and a continuously secure and reliable connection for a seamless shopping experience.

According to data from the Adobe Digital Insights 2018 report, “5G and improved connectivity could mean an additional $12 billion in revenue per year for retailers by 2021.”

However, it’s clear that retailers aren’t preparing for the future.

Commenting on the scenario in retail at the Mobile World Commerce 2018, Conversity CEO Dave Stark said:

5G has the potential to revolutionize the way retailers interact with their customers, especially with the smartphone becoming an increasingly dominant force in the retail world.

Smooth, reliable connectivity is also a powerful enabler of digital convergence across all sales channels, whether mobile, online or in-store. Looking to the future should always be front of mind, but there is so much more that retailers need to do right now to keep customer experiences fresh, informative and convenient.

Here are some of the interesting things retailers can do with emerging technologies if they build a 5G-enabled network:

Interactive fitting rooms:  Using touch-screen interfaces that allows shoppers to request different clothing sizes or immediate assistance in place of existing mirrors can make life so much easier.

Beacons: Sending (relevant) messages to consumers while they’re in the store can be very useful, especially if it’s arranged into different sections in different regions. Beacons help do that.

Interactive storefront windows: Interactive and exciting messaging on touch-screens linked to motion-sensors can attract customers and invite them into the store.

Handheld devices: The magic-tabs can turn your store managers and executives into customer service genies while providing them with information and insights to help improve the customer experience.

Heat mapping technology: Analyzing security footage in real-time using AI-driven algorithms can help retailers understand how consumers move through the store and what can be done to better engage with them.

To compete effectively, retailers need to wake up and cater to the needs of the tech-savvy, mobile-focused generation of modern consumers.

When shoppers expect a straightforward, personalized, informative, and convenient experience, leveraging technologies that are able to do this, such as AI and VR, will lay the groundwork for a successful future when 5G becomes the norm.

Given that 5G is set to be ready for commercial use by mid-2019 to early-2020, retailers must get started now.