Guest Column | July 30, 2021

The 5G Impact On The Customer Experience

By Dr. Gareth Smith, Keysight


5G networks will be a catalyst for digital transformation ushering in a new wave of innovation in the retail industry. The smart store experience will become a reality with immersive experiences the norm enabling retailers to engage with customers in new ways and drive operational efficiencies. With the enhancements 5G supports, retailers, can maximize omnichannel strategies through an improved customer experience delivering increased efficiency, productivity, and profitability.

Core to the transformation is the speed and latency benefits that 5G powers. With data volumes 100 times higher than existing networks and instantaneous response times, retailers can transform the number and sophistication of connected devices. Despite the increased coverage, the connectivity comes at a lower cost and requires less energy. This enables a near-seamless transfer of data allowing retailers to enhance store operations, with customers benefiting from deeper immersive experiences.

Connected Retail And The Customer Experience

As retailers standardize on 5G, every aspect of retail, from the physical store to the supply chain to e-commerce, will be impacted, ushering in a new era of intelligent retail. The way consumers engage with products will evolve with deeper personalization, all enhancing the customer experience. Some of the ways 5G can reshape the instore retail experience include:

  • AI within retail will be supercharged. AI feeds on data, and the additional bandwidth offered by 5G allows for exceptional customer service as retailers can access data in real-time and at volumes that industrialize AI-driven applications, allowing greater agility and accuracy. Consumers will benefit from enhanced engagement, and in turn, retailers can drive up revenue.
  • Personalized shopping: The in-store shopping experience will evolve through deeper personalization. With 5G, bandwidth and latency are no longer issues, enabling retailers to connect everything with sensors in real-time and deliver a superior customer experience. Retailers, while honoring privacy, have visibility into exactly what consumers are putting in their carts and can suggest complementary products as shoppers browse the store. This could lead to recipe suggestions based on an individual’s preferences and the items in their basket in a supermarket. When items go on sale that a consumer has tried on or browsed online with 5G, they could receive an alert telling them the item is now on sale.
  • Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). These capabilities will significantly expand with the advent of 5G, changing how consumers interact with products. The speed of 5G is essential to unlocking the capabilities of AR and VR. These interactive visual applications transform how retailers can engage with customers in new and exciting ways. For example, a shopper with a 5G smartphone and AR can scan items inside a store to instantly see the boxed item fully assembled and in 3D. That interaction can then influence the decision to make a purchase, positively impacting a retailer’s top line.
  • Walk-out stores: Contactless payment at scale is now possible, moving walk-out stores from a concept to reality. 5G allows an array of IoT devices and sensors to be connected along with deep learning and computer vision to facilitate this innovation. This creates a friction-free experience for customers as they can select items and leave knowing their purchases will be charged to their preselected payment method without having to waste time checking out.

All 5G innovations will transform the customer experience helping deliver a seamless omnichannel experience. However, the importance of testing the connected store has never been more vital. To deliver on the promise of 5G and smart retail requires flawless connected systems putting the quality of software in the spotlight. Retailers need to evaluate the entire ecosystem to ensure it meets customer expectations. This is a complex undertaking as time, location, cyber, physical, bandwidth, and other network effects all impact the customer experience requiring retailers to continuously test the performance.

5G promises retailers a lifeline to reinvent the entire retail landscape and transform shopping as we know it. Retailers can deploy a new generation of high-performance applications in their stores, significantly improving the customer experience. The network benefits are transformative, opening up a raft of innovative ways to connect with customers alongside improving efficiency, productivity, and profitability.  Every retailer needs to look at ways to harness 5G to enhance the experience and the bottom line.

About The Author

Dr. Gareth Smith leads Keysight’s software test automation group. Previously Gareth was CTO at Eggplant - the pioneer in intelligent test automation, acquired by Keysight in June 2020. Gareth has a rich history of innovation in software, serving in leadership roles at Apama, Software AG, and Progress Software.