5G can bring technology and innovation into the equation, enabling retailers to make data-driven decisions, see the supply chain from start to finish, and collaborate with customers to create and build memorable experiences.
All things considered, would you rather buy something in a physical store or online? If you’re one of the respondents to Raydiant’s recent survey, you may do a lot of online shopping but really prefer the in-store experience. According to them “State of the shopping experienceResearch, 48% of consumers want to shop in a physical, brick-and-mortar store.
At the height of ecommerce, just being online was enough to set a brand apart. Today, brands that want to connect with their customers must offer the best of both worlds: the convenience and immediacy of online with face-to-face contact. And thanks to 5G, we are looking at a new retail era.
We’ve seen several scintillating examples of stores delivering high-tech experiences to in-store consumers, but 5G could take this to a new level.
Augmented Reality (AR) as standard practice
Shopify recently announced that 71% of consumers would shop in-store more often if they could participate in immersive AR experiences. Consumers have often participated in AR pop-up experiences or special events, but 5G provides the foundation for a continuous experience in mainstream retail locations.
5G provides a supercharged network that can seamlessly transfer much higher volumes of data faster, an essential part of bringing AR to consumers every day. Consumers can visualize products online in the real world and then experience products in-store in new and exciting ways. For example, a customer trying on a shirt might change the lighting, decor, or colors to visualize what the shirt will look like outside the locker room. Once they have found their favorite shirt, AR can suggest accessories or other garments to complete the look without leaving the dressing room.
From there, the customer can send data to their mobile devices to track purchases and wish lists to buy later. When the time is right, they can find exactly the piece they need online, creating a seamless experience from start to finish.
Smart tagging provides consumers with dynamic information
Few things are more frustrating than not having the right information for the desired product. Consumers check inventory online, only to find that the in-store counts are incorrect. They wonder what the difference is between two products and can’t figure it out. Mislabeled or unlabeled pricing information creates problems when something appears to be on sale and isn’t.
RFID tags provide consumers with dynamic information for any desired product. Smart shelving can help retailers track inventory more accurately, and consumers can learn everything they need to know about a product from start to finish with a simple mobile device.
Even more interestingly, these smart tags can personalize information for each shopper through 5G data transfers. Customers can connect to the network and discover more about each product, from where it comes from to how it’s made and more. More people than ever want to buy things that fit their values and may be more willing to pay a premium. Smart tags enable this kind of personalized shopping.
Consumers will find stores re-imagined as curated experiences, but that’s not all that happens. These experiences require hard work behind the scenes to ensure everything happens seamlessly on the floor. 5G makes that magic a little easier.
Supply chain optimization
AR won’t help customer experiences if their favorite products aren’t even on the shelves. Retail brands are now global, with supply chain partners around the world. When a puzzle piece does not align, the whole picture is lost.
With 5G, supply chain partners can analyze and share data in near real time to make better product predictions. Stores can now better analyze demand based on trends rather than historical forecasts, and move quickly to account for disruptions.
Those smart RFID tags can reduce manual documentation and warn manufacturers of potential accidents earlier. Cloud-based backend systems are becoming more manageable as 5G allows for rapid transfer of massive amounts of data. And brands gain 24/7 visibility across the entire supply chain.
Frictionless, optimized store layouts
Stores can also use 5G data transfer to create networked webs that enable frictionless experiences. Checkout is a special challenge for many stores. Too many cashiers and machines remain idle. Too few and stores end up with excited customers at the end of their experience.
Contactless payment could be on the rise. Amazon ran a store where customers simply grabbed what they needed and walked out, mimicking their transformative online purchases with one click. In fact, a majority of consumers would like to see some form of contactless payment in their favorite stores.
Stores can also apply the same traffic principles to their brick-and-mortar stores as they do to online shopping. Stores can (anonymously) track customer patterns throughout the store, analyze inventory levels, and optimize product placement to build truly consumer-friendly retail locations.
What do we build? A bridge from online retail to off
5G will begin to close the gap between online and in-store experiences. Consumers are already used to shopping in both worlds, but the new network will allow stores to curate those experiences for customers. Moreover, 5G will bring analytics to the physical world in ways that were not possible before, thanks to continuous connections.
As retailers look for ways to differentiate themselves in a global economy, 5G can bring technology and innovation into the equation. They make data-driven decisions, see the supply chain from start to finish, and collaborate with customers to curate and build memorable experiences. Thanks to low latency and improved connectivity, we will soon be entering a new retail era.