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What are the advantages of 5G in the retail industry?

Dec 2022 • 6 min read

5G in the retail industry is a potential game-changer to revolutionise brick-and-mortar stores. The High Street was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and has been struggling to recover ever since. In the last few years, we’ve seen shocking closures of High Street favourites such as Debenhams, Mothercare, and Topshop.  

Part of the problem is fierce competition from online stores like ASOS, Boohoo, and Ocado as well as huge marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay. Can the High Street thrive again? It’s time to reimagine the High Street with 5G technology!  

We discuss the impact of 5G in the retail industry, looking at the advantages of 5G and its use cases: 

What is 5G?  

5G is the 5th generation mobile broadband network that takes connectivity to the next level. It’s designed to connect more devices at the same time, increase speed and bandwidth, and improve reliability.  

5G is one of the big retail trends to look out for in 2023. There’s been a massive uptake in 5G and it’s expected to reach one billion subscriptions by the end of 2022. That’s two years faster than 4G when it launched! 

Powering a new era of retail technology 

E-commerce has been disrupting the retail industry for years, and now 5G is set to shake things up and give the High Street a much-needed boost. 5G opens the gateway to new and innovative retail technologies. The adoption of these new technologies help retailers to improve operational efficiencies and deliver more convenient and personalised shopping experiences. 

Emerging technology in retail heavily depends on high levels of connectivity that only 5G can provide. This includes: 

  • Internet of Things (IoT) – A network of physical objects with sensors, cameras, and other technologies that are connected to the internet.  
  • Virtual Reality (VR) – The simulation of a three-dimensional (3D) environment that the user can interact with.  
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) – The simulation of human processes using computer systems.   
  • Augmented Reality (AR) – The process of displaying digital images onto the real world.    

5G use cases in retail 

Here are some 5G use cases to show how emerging and innovative retail technologies are reimagining the High Street:  

  • Personalised store promotions  

5G allows retailers to use AI and Machine Learning (ML) to offer personalised store promotions. This helps drive higher customer satisfaction and more frequent visits. 

For example, Starbucks uses AI technology to send personalised store promotions when they think a customer is likely to make their next order. The Starbucks app records data such as previous orders, location of the order, and time. The app then uses the data to predict when the customer will buy their next coffee so, they can send personalised deals at the right moment.  

  • Immersive shopping experiences   

Retailers are using AR technology to create immersive shopping experiences. For example, IKEA have created an AR app called IKEA Place to show shoppers how IKEA furniture would look in their own space. This relieves some of the stress of shopping by giving users the confidence that the furniture will look great in their homes.  

  • Contactless checkouts  

Retailers are using cameras and sensors powered by AI technology to create contactless checkouts. Eliminating long queues and making the checkout process faster drastically improves the customer experience. 

Shoppers simply scan a QR code when they enter the store and the amount they owe is automatically calculated as they fill their shopping basket. Some retailers take it a step further with contactless payment, allowing you to walk out the store with your goods and they’re automatically charged to a linked bank account.  

  • Pop-up units  

 You often find pop-up retail units in places like train stations, in the middle of town centres, and festivals. 5G can be used to provide a temporary network to give you reliable and secure connectivity anywhere, anytime. 

Advantages of 5G in retail  

The continued digitalisation of retail may appear daunting at first but they’re numerous advantages of 5G.  

  • Boost revenue with personalised shopping experiences –  

Retail technologies powered by 5G are unleashing a new era of customer-centric, data-driven, and personalised experiences. 5G has superior bandwidth compared to earlier generations, allowing you to gather more data from a multitude of sources without taking a hit to performance. This data can be translated into enriched shopping experiences to help drive revenue and customer loyalty.  

A Microsoft study with psfk revealed that 80% of customers are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer a personalised experience. This is one of the reasons why ecommerce was able to disrupt the retail industry the way that it did, but now physical stores can offer personalisation and compete with online retailers.  

  • Drive engagement with immersive shopping experiences 

 5G enables you to use AR to deliver immersive shopping experiences that allow customers to interact with products before they make a purchase. As we already mentioned, IKEA’s Place app is a great example of this in action. Merging physical stores with the digital world creates a unique and memorable experience that drives engagement and customer loyalty. 

  • Increase customer loyalty 

According to Raydiant’s State of Consumer Behavior 2021 report, 90% of customers will return to a store if they have a positive experience. A common theme is this article is how 5G improves the shopping experience, from interactive changing rooms to faster checkouts and cashless payments. By investing in 5G you can create winning shopping experiences that differentiate you from your competitors and drive customer loyalty. 

  • Improve operational efficiencies  

Retail technology powered by 5G helps improve operational efficiencies from every angle including inventory management, store operations, and employee productivity. For example, a combination of intelligent cameras and sensors can be used to automatically trigger real-time out of stock notifications to internal apps. Technologies such as VR and AR can also be used to enhance employee training to help improve performance and productivity. 

  • Increase efficiency in supply chain management 

5G-enabled IoT optimises supply chains with real-time data and next level accuracy, saving you time and money. For example, you can accurately track perishable good in real-time and receive alerts if something is going to perish because it’s reached an incorrect temperature. 

  • Strengthen business continuity  

Strengthen business continuity with a 5G failover. If your internet network suffers a sudden outage 5G can provide a backup solution to keep your business moving. It’s quick and easy to set up and performance doesn’t need to take a hit.  

What about traditional public WiFi? 

Public WiFi isn’t going anywhere; it still plays a key role in retail. Both 5G and traditional public WiFi are rich in benefits and a hybrid solution gives retailers the best of both worlds. This sets up shopping centres with optimum resilience and offers more options for tenants. 

Here’s why you should switch to a hybrid solution: 

  • Increased capacity – More people can connect at the same time with strategically placed WiFi access points around your shopping centre. 
  • Improved performance – Some buildings don’t possess the right radio frequency environment needed for strong 5G. Public Wifi can supplement 5G in weak areas to boost connectivity performance. 
  • Accessibility – Public WiFi is accessible for people who can’t pay for mobile data. 
  • Business continuity – Our public WiFi solutions come with enhanced cyber security to protect shoppers and retailers. This means public WiFi can be used as a safe backup solution if 5G goes down. 

Key takeaways  

5G in the retail industry has the potential to revolutionise the High Street by providing faster, more efficient, and more personalised shopping experiences to customers. Retailers that embrace this technology will have a competitive advantage and be better positioned for success in the future. At ITVET, we specialise in providing 5G to retail clients like you, helping you to fully embrace digital transformation and reap the benefits.  

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