The rollout of 5G has the potential to transform the retail industry by ushering in a new era of connectivity and experience. Its advancements should alleviate many of the challenges that retailers have endured during the pandemic. By dramatically accelerating the speed of mobile networks, 5G paves the way for a dazzling array of innovations. 

The network’s rollout will play a vital role in supporting retailers in their quest to deliver a frictionless omnichannel experience. It will also support the creation of personalised journeys, which should enable retailers to increase sales and improve operating margins. 

In the following article, I explain in detail the 5G impact on the retail industry and highlight the benefits it can bring.  

Technology snapshot 

I believe the 5G signals is the dawn of a new age of mobile communications. Thanks to vastly reduced latency and increased speeds, it allows more devices to access the internet at the same time. By connecting people to everything, retailers can shepherd in a new era of experience-driven innovation. Here are four examples of the innovation and the 5G impact on the retail industry we can expect shortly.

  • Immersive shopping experiences 
An image showing a couple buying furniture with the help of VR technology. The picture demonstrated the 5G impact on the retail industry.

5G supports a range of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) solutions that will change the way consumers interact with products. The increased speed will enable consumers to visualise products in the real world, which will further increase the number of digital touchpoints.  

Basically, 5G will blur the line between physical and digital retail experiences. No longer will consumers need to visit a home goods store when they are revamping their living room. Instead, they can try a new sofa online and explore how it will look and feel within their home. These immersive 3D experiences will completely transform the try before you buy the concept and make personalised digital experiences a reality

AR and VR will create a plethora of new in-store experiences. For instance, interactive fitting rooms within stores can help shoppers select other sizes and suggest accessories or alternative items without the customer leaving the room. By interacting with the VR solution, consumers can adjust lighting and backgrounds to see how outfits look in different settings. Additionally, 5G will underpin the blending of the retail experience through personalisation by expanding existing AR/VR capabilities beyond the smartphone. 

  • Contactless shopping 

With the support of 5G, seamless mobile payment and shopping will become a reality removing the need for physical interactions with sales associates. Voice-activated digital video displays will automate many of the functions previously carried by shop assistants. 

  • Cashier-less stores 

5G RFID tags enable retailers to scale cashier-less stores across every type of retail environment. Increasing the number of devices and people connected to the network will finally become mainstream rather than a concept. All retailers out there will be able to apply this solution, even in big box stores and supermarkets. 

  • Store inventory and logistics 
an image of a man using the 5G advanced technology during the purchasing process.

With 5G, retailers’ cloud-based systems will now be accessible in real-time and improve the overall performance. Sensors will be deployed on shelves to transmit information immediately, ensuring inventory levels and equipment locations are accurate and constantly monitored. This will enable consumers to point, click, and receive their orders without incurring any unplanned delays or out-of-stock items that drive customers away. 

The increased bandwidth from 5G provides 360-degree visibility across the entire supply chain, removing much of the friction from existing processes and reducing losses such as inventory shrinkage. Providing retailers with enhanced data on usage patterns can further streamline operations and reduce wasted inventory. 

Disrupting the traditional evaluation  

Along with the innovations and the 5G impact on the retail industry, we will see more complexity in tracking and measuring CX. With the upcoming change, instead of evaluating individual components, retailers will have to test the entire ecosystem to ensure it meets customers needs.  

a young professional analysing the big data,

Traditionally, retailers have relied on testing the correctness of software and applications. However, with the user experience (UX) determining success, retailers need to continuously test user journeys across all touchpoints. One of the ways to do this is by integrating intelligent technologies that automate testing from the user perspective. 

Intelligent test automation can evaluate the functionality, performance, and usability of digital products rather than simply verifying code. It incorporates artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and analytics to continuously test and monitor the digital user experience.  

To reap the monetary rewards from the innovations that 5G supports, retailers must rethink how they test and monitor the performance of the digital experience. As retail brands continue to grapple with the retail apocalypse, the advent of 5G networks offers a glimmer of hope for them to create immersive digital journeys.  

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