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5G can enhance the in-person shopping experience

Online shopping may present challenges to the traditional brick-and-mortar retail stores, but there’s still hope for in-person shopping. Retailers just need to find a way to “wow” their customers, and 5G connectivity might be the way to do that, Inseego SVP and General Manager Ritesh Mukherjee recently wrote for Retail TouchPoints.

“Retailers that understand the customer journey and adopt innovative strategies are looking at ways to turn their brick-and-mortar stores into experience centers,” Mukherjee said. “There have been retailers opening more stores than those closing after the pandemic. These experience centers can benefit significantly from 5G to wow the customers.”

How can 5G enhance an in-person shopper’s experience? Mukherjee noted that all-electric pickup truck maker Rivian recently opened a retail hub that features a lounge, garden and library. Those amenities are much more appealing if the hub has Internet access. Meanwhile, 5G can make in-person shopping more convenient. If a customer asks a salesperson about a piece of equipment or clothing, it’s more efficient if the information can be found on a tablet versus having to go back to the computer behind the counter.

“Connectivity is critical to driving in-store traffic, providing a seamless shopping experience, fostering a robust brand connection and creating lasting memories,” Mukherjee said. “In short, the wow factor for the store depends heavily on the store’s network connection.”

Here are three ways 5G makes for a better retail experience for all parties involved:

Enhanced in-store experiences

Stores that have multiple wireless networks decrease their chances of having their connectivity disrupted, according to Mukherjee. A lot of stores still rely on wired connectivity, which leaves them vulnerable to network interruptions — a fiber cut, network issue or simple human error could put a store offline at any given moment.

With 5G connectivity however, stores can count on being connected at all times. A 5G network can connect mobile point-of-sale terminals, self-service kiosks, scan-and-go checkouts and more. Meanwhile, retailers can impress customers even more with augmented or virtual reality displays if they have 5G.

More up-to-date stocking and delivery experiences

When 5G works in tandem with the Internet of Things (IoT), it’s easier for retailers to track their inventory. Time is saved from not having to check product levels manually, and retailers can receive updates in real time when stock is running low. They can also keep their customers better informed on when inventory will be back in stock or alert them to potential delays.

“During these times of supply chain chaos and high prices, savings in the supply chain can be a boon to retailers,” Mukherjee said. “Being able to tell a customer where their favorite product is will undoubtedly add to the wow factor.”

Better employee experiences

5G doesn’t just make the retail experience better for store owners and customers. Employees can benefit, too. Reliable wireless connectivity makes it easier for them to serve the customers, whether that means responding to requests faster, communicating with co-workers or avoiding tasks that traditionally had to be done manually so they can pay more attention to the customers’ needs.

“The retail industry is dynamic,” Mukherjee said. “Only eight percent of global consumers are committed to the brands they purchase. In this age of fast and fickle consumers, it is imperative to dazzle the customer. Creating lasting in-store experiences, providing up-to-date product information and being served by happy employees are must-haves to wow the customer. 5G can provide retailers with uninterrupted connectivity, elevated in-store experiences, access to real-time data, streamlined operations and improved employee morale.”

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