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Impact of 5G on the Retail Industry


By NIIT Editorial

Published on 06/01/2021

7 minutes

Technology is a one-way streak that keeps moving unilaterally forward. Exactly a decade ago, the public which was then overawed by the causes and effects of social media, smartphones, data analytics, and the cloud is reading into chapter 2 of the same book. Only this time, industrial revolution 4.0 will be augmented by technologies old and new. If that still isn’t obvious in the ongoing consumer-level changes around us already, then the front-runner disciplines welcoming the age of automation will be: 

 

  • Internet of Things 
  • Artificial Intelligence 
  • Robotic Process Automation 
  • Distributed Computing 
  • Immersive Technology 
  • 3D printing 
  • 5G

Perhaps one of the first few places we can observe the kaleidoscopic changes fruition, as diligent enablers of it, is the retail industry. The worldwide e-commerce industry is on the upswing. As per Statista, in 2019, e-commerce sales amounted to US$3.5 trillion. Fast forward to 2023, revenues would feature upwards of US$6.5 trillion. What is acting as the fastener for such shopping shifts and how will 5G impact the future of shopping, let us explore.

The Shift towards 5G

The unfortunate store-closures on a massive scale, especially in the last few years, have been tagged the (wrong)doing of e-commerce portals. Retailers have been unable to compete at the price end, in-process succumbing to the rise of e-commerce stores. Yet all is not lost. 

With the 5G rollout, there is hope amongst the retailing community to digitally reinvent and screw-tight an otherwise lost endeavour. The bugging challenges they face concerning the implementation of associated tech tools will be easier to handle with 5G. Some of these challenges are: 

  • Poor in-store connectivity and the consequential customer churn.
  • Lack of internet bandwidth to install modernized immersive technology equipment for fanfare/business.
  • A dearth of high resolution supportive, on-the-go tools for field professionals
  • Absence of real-time analytics and automation solutions for warehouse facilities.

How Will 5G Impact the Retail Industry

Positive steps towards technological adoption continue to be taken. The 2020 edition of the future of retail technology report demonstrates that 96% of the retailers are investing in technology to streamline operational agility. The following are some of the changes we can expect to see in the foreseeable future, rendered imaginable by 5G: 

 

Improving the in-person brand-customer relationship 

 

As mentioned in previous articles, it takes powerful internet bandwidths to process high-quality multimedia data. With the availability of both, the tools and the opening up of low latency networks, customers can experiment a wider range of clothing styles, seeking real-time expert opinion. 

 

Delivering Augmented Store Experiences

 

The hype around Magic Mirror continues to grow as the AI-enabled equipment would be straight out childlike folklore. As customers face the mirror, the device would automatically fetch the latest clothing styles, judged to perfection as per the unique measurements of each individual. Operating on the edge network, they’d notify bots to fetch select-pieces and save customers the hassle. 

 

IoT 

 

5G cameras will process images at a much faster rate to perform facial recognition and give sentiment analysis reports on the people frequenting the store. Once the supply chain is retro-fitted with sensors, granular data can be used to manage misplaced customer belongings, track shipments, choose the shortest routes for delivery among other things. Additionally, the communion between 5G-IoT will also ensure smart energy management saving thousands in utility bills. 

 

Extreme Customization 

 

With accurate product labelling even unstructured data can be collected on customers to produce descriptive profiles. Data can be utilized to provide real-time, customized insights about and to the customers. 

 

What Should Retailers Focus On?

 

Based on the changes being wrought by 5G and its sister technological concerns, if the retailers focus on the following pointers they’d be far better off than in the current scenario: 

 

5G Applicability 

 

As the old American maxim goes, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Technology shouldn’t be force-fitted onto the store if data and the user sentiment don’t ask for it. Store owners need an in-depth understanding of 5G and the ground-impact that would ripple customer preference and increase footfall. 

 

Omnichannel experience 

 

Although 5G will help curate more data than before, it is up to the business owners to run the show and use the same to their advantage. Product positioning, store redesigning, and aligning supply chain priorities are some of the KPIs that would define future growth. 

 

Cybersecurity Backups 

 

IT modernization will mandate retailers to secure their digital warehouses. Already doubts are being cast about the veracity of the 5G-mould of services to assure data privacy. Considering data is the 21st century equivalent of oil, retailers shouldn’t underestimate rogue actors sniffing around for unwanted cyber entry points.

 

Nudging the World with a 5G Thrust

We’re almost at the threshold of the beginning of the new beginning. 5G will come with massive changes in store (pun intended). But this IT revolution, like all others preceding it, won’t undergo without its manpower aka the new age 5G professionals. 

The Nokia Bell Labs End-to-End 5G Certification Programme in collaboration with NIIT has been introduced to supply the telecommunications vertical with a leadership acumen. Explore it for a promising career in the fast-developing 5G-domain. 



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