The coming of the 5G era is another make-or-break moment for retailers. (By Ashley Galina Dudarenok)
In June 2019, three domestic carriers and a broadcaster in China were given the go-ahead to launch 5G commercial services before the licenses were previously expected to be issued. This has been widely seen as an acceleration of the rollout process.
And it’s not just China. Korea has also started deploying its 5G network. From 2021 onward, 5G will steadily replace 4G as the standard internet cellular technology. Huawei is highly involved in initial layouts of the technology within China and elsewhere. ZTE, Nokia, Samsung, and Ericsson also sell 5G equipment.
Providing rapid, reliable connections while transmitting higher quantities of data, 5G not only enables significantly faster internet connections in general, but also provides the perfect environment for the Internet of Things.
What does it mean for the retail industry? New ways of engaging with consumers, more connected devices, new ways to collect data and more data to analyze. Omnichannel on steroids is coming.
5G – More Than Speed
The emergence of 3G and 4G mobile communications led to a dramatic increase in mobile shoppers worldwide. In the US in 2018, according to the Salesforce Shopping Index, 62% of e-commerce traffic was via mobile phones and according to Pew Research, 20% of American adults consider themselves “smartphone-only” internet users. During the same period, The People’s Bank of China estimates that shoppers in China spent $41.5 trillion USD through their phones including online and in-store purchases.
Imagine what’ll happen to the mobile retail landscape when internet speeds for mobile devices increase tenfold. For example, a 1 hour video could be downloaded in only 10 seconds using 5G, while the same process takes 3-5 minutes using 4G.
However, 5G is not just faster 4G. One of the other reasons it can provide faster connections and better audio and video capabilities is its low latency. Latency is the amount of time it takes for a small packet of information sent from your computer to reach another computer on the Internet, and then return back to you.
Such low latency is perfect when it comes to augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) applications and is also ideally suited to the Internet of Things, which involves a great deal of connections between devices that communicate with each other. With 5G, these huge data exchanges can easily take place in the background.
A Better Online Experience
High speed and low latency are the two top benefits of 5G. And these improvements can have other far-reaching impacts. According to research from Google, 53% of mobile users leave a site that takes more than 3 seconds to load. However, the average load time using 4G is around 14 seconds. 5G will also affects app usage and download rates. It takes about 25 minutes to download the PUBG mobile app using 4G. 5G makes it possible to download the app in 35 seconds or less.
5G will undoubtedly improve shopping and surfing experiences. It’ll also make watching long-form videos and live streaming easier and even more popular. Both formats lead to higher conversion rates. 5G could also open the door to drone deliveries and a greater variety of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) experiences at home and through smartphones.
The Door to an immersive World
Through AR and VR applications, interactive fitting rooms have improved remarkably in terms of convenience and efficiency. Earlier this year, one of the first commercialized 5G applications, a 5G VR mirror, was set up in Hangzhou’s Silk Town. Consumers can keep their clothes on while standing in front of the mirror which can change their outfits within seconds. Bags and other accessories also hang naturally stick to the body tightly.
Solving the low latency and high-bandwidth demands of AR and VR, 5G will boost the immersive applications. This also enables brands to open pop-up stores in small spaces or virtually as actual real estate isn’t necessary for these applications to run on the phones of shoppers.
A Seamless Shopping Experience
Building a retail ecosystem that unifies online and offline channels, New Retail is transforming the industry. With reliable connections and data exchanges, 5G unlocks the potential of the internet of things (IoT) and other high tech possibilities.
OPPO, partnering with Tmall, launched an OPPO New Retail Experience Store in Guangzhou in September, 2018. The large LED screen at the entrance, which is the largest kinetic cloud shelf in Asia, is connected to OPPO’s flagship store on Tmall. “Cloud shelves” are large screens that display products for sale.
Users could browse items by gesturing and could use Taobao’s AR BUY+ function to scan products and learn about their features. The store also featured IoT home appliances available on Tmall and a “smart living room” where users could control TVs, vacuum cleaners and other appliances through a mobile app. The store leveraged Tmall’s location based services (LBS) data to analyze consumer behavior and select products with huge commercial potential based on each consumer’s preferences.
The future of retail, with its converging digital and offline experiences, is happening right now in China. Companies need to harness the power of advanced technology to keep up and 5G is at the top of the list.
Learn more about the New Retail in my latest book co-authored with Michael Zakkour New Retail: Born in China Going Global, available on Amazon starting July 18th.
[for online edition, kindly include a hyperlink to book’s Amazon https://amzn.to/2XUh2Bt]
With additional research by Lu Fan.
NOTES TO EDITOR
Ashley’s short bio:
Ashley Galina Dudarenok is an entrepreneur, professional speaker, bestselling author, vlogger, podcaster, media contributor and female entrepreneurship spokesperson. She is the founder of several startups, including social media agency Alarice and training company ChoZan. She runs the world’s largest vlog about China market, consumers and social media on YouTube and AshleyTalks.com. Her third book New Retail: Born in China Going Global co-authored with Michael Zakkour will be available on Amazon July 18th, 2019.
Ashley’s pictures can be found here: https://bit.ly/2t2OiJN
Book’s Amazon link: https://amzn.to/2XUh2Bt
Book pictures here: https://bit.ly/2NZHABU
New Retail Book Press Release: https://bit.ly/2y1a3fT