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5G Accelerates Retail Consumer Experiences to the Next Level

Christopher Sarne
Senior Director Product Management Strategy

Expectations are high for the impact of 5G wireless. Retailers are looking to the new technology with excitement, and it’s expected to open new ways of more impactful engagement with customers.

5G is expected to introduce:

  • Faster Speeds: high-speed data transfer speeds up to 100x faster than 4G LTE technology1
  • High Reliability and Low Latency: 10-9 error rates for data transference. Networks will be accurate with lower latency as first attempts to send data will be on track2
  • High Efficiency: both connection density (more wireless connections within an area) and higher energy efficiency to enable more device connections

The effects of these 5G changes will be substantial and broad across in-store capabilities for retail. The capabilities impact omnichannel, but will be spotted by consumers in the store location. While most expect 5G to enable new customer journeys, it’s initial impact will push existing experiences that are plateauing to a new level.

  • Today, a 4K visual experience in VR/AR today requires a 500Mbps connection to run fluidly.3 Which means these seldom-leveraged concepts will be enhanced by 5G, overcoming today’s high-definition limits, allowing customers to “try on” clothing virtually. Precise clothing fit in virtual settings will be achievable – where a true augmented reality becomes available for consumers.
  • Visualization of products in natural settings can be personalized to local scenarios. 5G will drive customer-facing tech to deliver a highly personalized experience inside the store that can guide consumers to personalized signage, or even wayfinding. The new 5G speeds will make clienteling experiences even more relevant and allow for up-to-the-moment micro learning for retail associates.
  • The changes don’t end there. Shoppers and retailers will benefit from deeper enhancements in in-store mobile technology, video surveillance, security, and even facial recognition.4 5G will drive further adoption of sentiment analysis in-store to better identify a journey’s effectiveness.
  • Further, video analysis will become faster and lower cost allowing for the easier identification of loss threats like employee theft, sweet-hearting and of course shoplifting. Security will become tighter because alerts like a customer wearing a ski-mask in July will no longer be hindered by slow data transfer.
  • Changes will come for the back end of the store as well. The impacts to supply chain will be profound. The Internet of Things (IoT) will become more easily accessible with lower costs, higher efficiency, less power requirements, and faster speeds. The trend towards capturing 100% inventory will become real as retailers set up IoT transponders and RFID at lower cost and greater accuracy to track individual products. Retail analytics in the store tied to electronic shelf labeling and customer tracking will become achievable for higher in-store traffic. Real-time retail demand forecasting will become even more remarkable and accurate with automated changes or the option to facilitate through human engagement.

What’s most important to note is that 5G is not another new technology or revolutionary concept being brought to the retail environment, but it can be the enabler that changes technology sitting on the shelf into powerful retail advantages. Retailers can embrace the shift with even the basic tech to see improvements in POS transaction latency and in-store customer experience advantages.

For additional insight on the impact of 5G check out: Retail as We Know It Will be Unrecognizable in a Few Years

15G Timeline and Everything Retailers Need to Know
25G Applications and Use Cases
3The bandwidth problem: 5 issues the VR industry must resolve
4How will 5G impact retail - and how soon?

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