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5G rollout, and its impact on the Retail Trends


Much talk about 5G, Huawei being a threat, infrastructure upgrades and finally, the amazing bandwidth that we are all expecting to see. 5G is poised to be the one major trigger for smartphone upgrades expected this year. This means that retailers will need to be ready to deliver the experience provided with this next wave. This could be a game-changing experience for online shoppers as this technology rolls out, and devices engage with its new capabilities.

What this means for eCommerce

A D2C push will continue for sure given that capabilities on AI, VR, and Augmented Reality will continue to penetrate in its usage inside of the stores.


Marketplaces such as Wish are already implementing marketing techniques using AI with their “Limited Offers” of £1 for much higher value items. The behavior enticement is to get the baskets transacted with the possibility of other goods, and if you don’t win the lottery of the Limited Offer Item, you get refunded in Wish Cash or the original payment method. AI chooses the item to put on offer and also handles the customer support of the refund – all without a single human interaction other than the consumer. If this is today, 5G will enhance further promoting and determining the price sensitivity of items to the individual as necessary.


Augmented Reality is going to be a key visual tool taking advantage of 5G’s capabilities.   The ability to search, correlate goods, identify sources of goods and availability of stock are going to flourish to the next level. Additionally, brand equity can flourish in this environment based on user preference or purchase behaviors.


VR will really get the benefit of extra bandwidth of 5G, given that visual real-time rendering is necessary to make 3D objects come alive. Consumer visual interaction will enhance confidence in finding and choosing the right product. Capable phones will be able to process the geometry locally but 5G will download the image maps of the environment, the object and all the information related to the item. This is a very powerful visual delivery for consumers to interact with.

Blurring the lines of Brick and Mortar

While some may say that the virtual will never replace the actual reality, 5G will definitely push the envelope closer. 5G will blur the information that a consumer might obtain from going to the actual shop vs. the online store. There are two frontiers left to breach – tactile and smell, which if both could be quantified and transmitted to a smartphone could complete the physical experience online. However, on the visual and interactive front, we can rely on AI, VR, and AR in delivering a solid experience with 5G.


In-store experiences will also use the 5G enhancements to their benefit, but it is aimed more at total technology than eCommerce capabilities. RFID with garments being tagged interacting with display/mirrors to give the consumer information on the garment while trying it on. While this has been piloted/deployed in high-end street shops, it has not relied on 5G to be effective. 5G will bring an additional layer to the customer experience on account management (online store access to a physical store for discounts, coupons, loyalty points, receipts/purchase history, returns). You might get alerts of discounts or promotional items as you walk in front of the store as your phone location correlates to the online store you have associated with.

Conclusion

5G delivers a lot more data to your smartphone. The experience on your smartphone will be enhanced in mobile responsiveness and speed of website loading. The additional technologies of getting the information you require at your fingertips will continue to be enhanced all the while the marketing tools will continue to grow and expand to make the user experience a pleasant one. 5G will be a trigger for mobile phone upgrades since the smartphone push has seen replacement phone upgrades slow down. Thus it will take time to see the 5G penetration take place as the hardware will not be immediately available in the consumer’s hands.   However, this is the beginning of the next wave, and being prepared to plan your store for it would be a wise consideration for this coming year.

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