5G, the first generation of mobile networks, is finally here. With 5G phones expected to become more widely available towards the end of 2019, 5G is set to quickly become one the most compelling technological advancements to enter the mainstream. With the promise of improved bandwidth, reliability, faster speeds and lower latency, what exactly does 5G technology have in store for retailers?
Emerging tech enhancing customer experience
There’s no doubt that customer expectations are at an all-time high, and consumers are now looking to retailers for new and immersive experiences. The advent of 5G will deliver capabilities that retailers could only have dreamed of, which were once simply not possible with earlier versions of the technology.
Building on 4G/LTE, and no longer limited by broadband speed or latency, 5G will be a crucial enabler of the new experiences customers now demand. It has the potential to help retailers empower new, innovative technologies with more speed and reliability, gathering more data, and ultimately build stronger, longer-lasting relationships between brand and consumer.
A faster connection will facilitate the use of new emerging technologies such as AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality), unlike we’ve yet to experience. Imagine walking into a store and being guided by AR to the exact location of your chosen item, or walking through a virtual store to make a purchase. To date, retailers have struggled largely to support these environments because devices need to be able to access and manage huge amounts of data, and require a more substantial network with lower latency and more consistency. With ultra-fast speeds of 5G, frustrating buffering and lags will soon be a thing of the past.
Smart back-end operations
When you think of 5G, the focus tends to lean towards how it will directly impact the consumer, however 5G also has the potential to boost back-end operations for retailers. 5G capabilities will transform the processing and handling of customer data and operational aspects of the business, all of which are essential to retailers, yet invisible to the eye. This will quickly make a difference to customer experience because it means content can be delivered much faster, and much more seamlessly.
5G supports constant communication and instant monitoring among a number of connected devices, optimising real-time feedback from back-end warehouses, logistic systems and inventory control. With IoT devices in constant communication, the location of goods in the supply chain can be known and tracked in real time. This is useful if a retailer has a long line of suppliers and vendors handling its products, because it’s imperative for them to accurately keep track of how the product is handled and where it’s located in the supply chain. This information ensures the process is running as efficiently as possible and can help get the product into customers’ hands faster.
The future: Will 5G live up to its potential?
For years now, retailers have been crying out for new ways to deliver a more consistent and richer experience for their customers, no matter where they are or what device they are using. With the advent of 5G, we’re now able to build the experiences we desire, without being limited by technology. In return, this is a chance to increase consumer confidence, increase brand loyalty and ultimately improve the bottom line.
We can speculate, but we can’t yet imagine all the opportunities that 5G will deliver. However, what is certain, is that retailers that understand their customers today, will most likely succeed in tomorrow’s environment. 5G is about unleashing a retailer’s potential to use the technology that already exists in the world – that is where we’re really going to see the next evolution.