The 5G revolution will impact our lives in more ways than we can imagine. Faster internet speeds and greater reliability in connectivity will change facets of customer experience with e-commerce and retail as well. The hope is that new products and services emanating from this will take our communities to the next level. Here are 10 overarching themes within which 5G will drive change and create value for the e-commerce and retail industries:
More people online
The amount of time that each individual could potentially be online will increase since disruptions are cut down. Higher network reliability ensures that. Additionally, within this increased time — you have ability to download far more per unit time than you could previously do. Let that sink in. This will be far from a regular shift in technology evolution.
There will be more potential customers browsing websites on the go on their phones and other devices. E-commerce and retail will have possibilities to flourish further. Websites and apps will function at unprecedented speeds. These speeds will also be far greater than the next best seen historically.
More people would also mean more customer segments, giving ris to the complexity with opportunity conundrum. That would be a lower priority problem though. The bigger issue would be reconciling supply chains and logistics with this additional boom in demand. Organisations must think about this and prepare for it. How are you going about it? What are some things that companies are doing or could do to address this?
VR/AR to help buying remotely
In 2016, IKEA tested a VR campaign. It gave them insights to help them launch an online VR store in Australia in 2017. This online store allows customers to browse through products via mobile VR headsets from their home or even while travelling.
With 5G, VR experiences will get better with decrease in buffering and lags which improves the customer experience for exploring products. When you do that, you increase the likelihood that they will make that purchase. This would help companies tap the “touch-and-feel” segment, who are used to hard touch before parting with their money, some more.
Apart from that, the 5G and e-commerce partnership may help the VR/AR industry rather than the other way round. Buying online through VR headsets is more compelling a use case for VR to be in more households than any other bar perhaps school. I could guarantee though that VR will go mainstream within the buying experience far more quickly than it will in learning remotely. That is not because the use case is better, but because we don’t have an Amazon for online learning and the proportion invested will always thus lag until that disparity remains.
There could be additional possibilities as well. You could possibly end up with a morphing piece of hardware in pop-up stores, which will provide the product experience to the customer without keeping any inventory. This could jump-start
Better customer experience
AI tools like chatbots and virtual personal assistants already improve customer service in the retail sector by answering frequently asked questions and providing recommendations. Clothing retailer H&M has a chatbot that delivers apparel suggestions based on the consumer’s preference.
With 5G, customers can connect and download information from these AI assistants at lightning speeds. Since speed is paramount to successful customer experience, retailers will benefit as more consumers will use these tools allowing them to get more data so they can deliver personalised recommendations.
Consider the recent acquisition of virtual fitting room company Zeekit by Wamart. For that specific use case, 5G will enable users to get recommendations as they are trying outfits. There is also faster likelihood of connecting with overall operations of Walmart by relaying that data. These two aspects augment the customer experience a whole lot. Firstly, you just have to click on suggestions to try new pieces without having to actually physically do it. Secondly, the forecast of inventory is managed in real time so customers have a better chance of getting the required item from the inventory in the time desired. And finally, customers would have the ability to take a piece from the inventory and adjust its specifications by using augmented reality enabled by 5G to customise it to their specific bodies. That last point is what will take the meaning of customer-centric to a whole new level.
To be continued …
I hope you found value and got ideas on how some of these may impact your own business. I look forward to completing this list soon.