Traditional physical stores are increasingly adapting to build more modernized environments. During the pandemic, digital transformation in retail has accelerated, meaning the industry is changing at a rapid pace.
In order to survive this evolving landscape, retailers, and particularly brick-and-mortar businesses, must transform to survive. Here's a look at what 5G will do to the retail industry in the coming years.
Strengthening Retail Operations
It's clear that 5G will be a game-changer for retailers to gain competitive edges over those that don't use it.
In terms of retail operations, a major advantage of 5G is its ability to help retailers manage the backend of their businesses through the widespread roll-out of IoT solutions that can help create more efficient operations. This is because a 5G connection can support more devices than 4G, while maintaining the same download speeds and latency.
The main revolution will be digital transformation of infrastructure so that companies have hybrid capabilities for serving both online and in-store shoppers. It will also improve the accuracy of real-time inventory tracking and give customers instant product information and reviews on their mobile devices.
Enhancing Customer Experiences
Beyond improving business operations, 5G can also help accelerate the use of emerging technologies that enhance the customer experience, including:
- Augmented Reality (AR) - Physical objects and sensory perception can now be enhanced digitally with AR interactivity. This is where the real world and digital world meet. AR allows retailers to overlay virtual images on real-world scenes.
- Virtual Reality (VR) - VR allows a user to be completely immersed in the digital realm while shutting out the physical world by wearing a headset. Retailers can use VR to give customers personalized video demonstrations of products and services.
- Mixed Reality (MR) - As a hybrid of virtual reality and augmented reality, MR allows physical and digital objects to coexist in real-time. It is ideal for visual marketing. MR takes retailers to a level of offering 3D interactive content for customers to learn about products and services.
- In-Store Experience Augmentation - The use of augmentation in retail stores will allow customers to experience products and services in meaningful ways before they purchase them. Retailers can enhance customer experiences by using augmentation to notify salespeople or virtual shopping assistants when customers make requests for information or images of a product.
- IoT Sensors - IoT sensors allow for facial recognition, a technology that helps retailers identify customers who enter their establishments and also helps document shoplifters through video. IoT sensor solutions will also be able to track orders in the supply chain and improve shipments to proper locations on time. Additionally, IoT sensors can help cut waste, track inventory in real-time, and streamline operations.
- Integrated Advanced Analytics - Having access to a wealth of data about customers will allow retailers to offer a more customized experience for each shopper. Machine learning technology will help sort through structured and unstructured data on customers to provide recommendations.
- NextGen Digital E-commerce - Modern e-commerce systems are being designed to improve the customer experience by facilitating various payment systems through wearables. It can potentially eliminate the need for point-of-sale checkout lines.
Even with the closing of physical stores around the country, the use of 5G in retail can help save brick-and-mortar businesses that embrace it. Since 5G will provide broader bandwidth and much higher transmission speeds, the internet will become a more seamless experience without latency. This means that retailers can capitalize on utilizing 5G to improve how their businesses operate, while innovating creative ways to use technology to make the shopping experience more enjoyable and seamless for customers.