In a few weeks, India will mark its first anniversary of the COVID-19 lockdown. Looking back at the early months, no one had imagined the magnitude of this situation, its spread across the country, and its impact on humanity and the economy.
While most businesses have concluded that the world will not be the same “post-COVID-19” and have started working towards ‘new-normal strategies’ for their products and services, the Indian retail sector has also geared to set up new benchmarks in the way people shop.
5G network has been termed as one of the most crucial development not only for the Indian economy, but for the retail sector as well. In the post-COVID scenario, customers expect value, convenience, and demand a personalised experience with products and services, while they are shopping.
Effective deployment of 5G can lead to a dramatic increase in speed and performance. It enables a new efficient spectrum in terms of business continuity and refined customer experience.
5G to bring competitive advantage
As per Statista, retail ecommerce sales worldwide amounted to $3.53 trillion in 2019, while e-retail revenues are projected to grow to $6.54 trillion in 2022.
Many shopping malls and downtown retail areas have struggled before and when the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the world.
For the ones who are still operational, it becomes mandatory to adopt a fresh approach in this new era of business with smart digital solutions. 5G will help them give an edge over their competition, which caters to over 1.38 billion consumers, 41 percent of which have access to the internet and demand data and connectivity.
It will support the arrival of the IoT (Internet of Things) and have a faster response time for this target audience. This massive growth will be a result of simple economics of speed — faster, cheaper internet on mobile phones, which ultimately means more opportunities to shop.
With such enormous potential, all retailers must ensure that they are well-positioned to take advantage of 5G technology and to adopt it as soon as it arrives. The high-speed 5G will transform the way people shop online and present new challenges and opportunities for retailers to increase their reach and impact.
AR and VR will redefine the “in-store” experience
The new networks will also enable new innovative technologies like AR (Augmented Reality), VR (Virtual Reality), and the IoT, which will redefine the “in-store” experience.
We have all gone through the experience where we order something online, but when it arrives, it doesn’t quite look the way it did online. This will change dramatically with AR and VR, which will minimise the hit or miss factor, and the time taken for returns and exchanges.
It will empower the customer with an experience like overlay guidance onto a smartphone map of a physical store, helping them to browse and select products without sales staff involvement.
AR and VR will feel like actual browsing in the brick-and-mortar stores. It will be an immersive shopping experience, where the customers will simultaneously be exploring new offers, and even trying on outfits in the virtual trial room — all this from the comfort of their couch.
Further, it will drastically change the delivery module for retail players as they could experiment with the adoption of drones for delivery. It will require a nationwide, multi-spectrum 5G network for command and control to avoid collisions with other drones, vehicles, or people.
It will be a trend to look at in the post-COVID world, which would ensure both precision and safety.
According to Goldman Sachs, the market for AR and VR in retail will reach $1.6 billion by 2025. 5G is sure to unlock a new wave of customer experiences, and to win big and ride the wave, the retail industry must harness the power of 5G. This will help them to make their customer experiences memorable and unique.
5G can empower omnichannel commerce
5G can also play a vital role in the enhancement of omnichannel commerce by seamlessly integrating physical and digital experiences to engage shoppers and reduce costs for retailers.
The physical stores can connect with their customers through mobile devices, and based on the browsing history, offer them specialised deals and tailored communication. In fact, this trend is increasingly noticeable in the grocery and pharmacy categories.
The payments industry will be revolutionised with 5G
5G’s low latency and high speed will improve the payment experience too. An Intel demo shows that facial recognition payment can be authenticated within 0.03 seconds, which is astonishing to say the least. This will result in less leakage of information and credit card frauds. Facial recognition payment will be an efficient way of authentication without the need for cash or credit cards.
It is believed that enhancing the 5G infrastructure should be of national priority as it will lead us to become a robust, scalable, and intelligent infrastructure-ready country, which is capable of handling the massive traffic growth of a retail consumer.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)