Commentary: The next frontier of experience — 5G — is good news for retailers

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Commentary: The next frontier of experience — 5G — is good news for retailers

By Jonathan Cherki - 04/02/2019
Reports of 5G service soon flooding the market are everywhere, and even though the technology is still some years away from mass adoption, the race for faster and better connectivity is underway.

The 5G era will certainly provide an answer to our allergy to time-wasting. Promise of speeds that will leave 4G in the dust means slow-loading sites and cellular dead zones will be a thing of the past. Consumers can look forward to faster download speeds, near-zero latency, and as a result, a whole new class of digital experience.

5G is good news for retailers. With mobile visitors much quicker to give up on a site than their desktop counterparts, mobile speed has a direct effect on revenue. And given the fast growth of M-Commerce, the impact on mobile retail will be significant.

But the benefits of 5G to consumers go well beyond better performing mobile experiences. The huge bandwidth unlocked by 5G will make emerging technologies such as virtual reality and interactive video more relevant and reliable. 5G is expected to create dense reliable networks that can fuel the adoption of smart homes, smart cars and entire smart cities. The applications and connected devices of 5G are set to make rich, immersive experiences a part of every aspect of our lives.

The future of experience
5G will accelerate the expansion of our hyper-connected environments. Things that weren’t necessarily connected before will be, and as the technology enhances the capabilities of the things that surround us, the physical and digital worlds will continue to converge.

Where this impact will be felt the strongest is in the customer experience, which promises to be richer, more interactive, and more integrated to keep up with fast-evolving consumer expectations.

In fact, experience today is all about adding value to people’s lives — whether that’s speeding up the process of making a purchase, eliminating the headaches associated with transitioning from a digital environment to a physical one (and vice versa), or giving people new ways to share their brand experiences with others.

With 5G-fueled applications, innovations will come to market fast and scale even faster. Smart retailers will be ready for this tipping point. Some future-thinking retailers, for example, are already enhancing the customer experience with augmented reality — a technology that will be amplified by 5G. Interactive fitting rooms in traditional brick-and-mortar stores and online features that allow you to visualize items on yourself or in your home before you commit to an e-purchase are two ways retailers are piloting this technology to cross new thresholds of services and deliver a more meaningful personalization.

A technology like 5G will increase brands’ capacity to roll out this type of service and customer-centric feature. And as experience-driven innovation takes up more and more room in our lives, consumers will be served a richer, more continuous brand of experience that may eventually outgrow devices (think: the end of screens), and become a seamless part of our lives.

New touchpoints, new data
The Internet of Things running of 5G will create a huge connected infrastructure generating a never-before-seen volume of data; this data has the potential to unlock a new level of insight into how people navigate digital and offline channels. Analyzing this data will allow companies to build better connections with their audience through AI-based hyper-personalization to better serve customers.

Consider this scenario: A refrigerator requests permission to place a shopping order to replenish its user’s favorite items and ensure the ingredients are in place for a selected video recipe. The refrigeration suggests a delivery time based on the user’s order history and calendar for tomorrow. When consulting the calendar, the refrigeration notices the user is going on vacation later in the month so it asks if the user would like to have some essentials arrive just after the user returns. The user remembers a new favorite brand of yogurt but can’t remember what it is so he/she the refrigerator to take it the yogurt aisle of their favorite store so they can browse the aisle live until they find and “take” it.

This is just a taste of what consumers’ digitally-enhanced lives may quickly become with the help of 5G. In this scenario, as digital services become more powerful they also become more invisible, integrating brand experiences into consumers’ daily lives.

The truth is, we don’t exactly what the brave new future of experience will look and feel like. What we do know is that over the next few years, the retail landscape will radically transform, and that the customer interactions of tomorrow will be wildly innovative, sophisticated and delightful. And it will happen much faster than you think.

Jonathan Cherki is CEO of ContentSquare, a UX/UI platform for brands and retailers.