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Exclusive – 5G-powered retail: 3 mind-blowing tech that will transform UX

5G will revolutionise retail through the implementation of groundbreaking new tech like AR and VR headsets.

5G will bring an unrivaled connection speed and optimally low latency, which the retail sector will capitalise on Increasingly, new hardware will allow for new, personalized interactions with consumers “5G and improved connectivity could mean an additional $12 billion in revenue per year for [US] retailers by 2021" -Adobe Digital Insights 2018 report

With 5G just around the corner, promising us things like hyper speed internet connections and smart cars that talk to each other, it’s inevitable that retailers will want to ride the incoming wave of hype. 

High connectivity and low latency are at the heart of these innovations, and as such, are all set to be amplified by 5G. 

According to data from the Adobe Digital Insights 2018 report, cited by Tech Wire Asia, “5G and improved connectivity could mean an additional $12 billion in revenue per year for [US] retailers by 2021.”

So, what is some of the hardware that will be at the forefront of this 5G revolution?

AR and VR – Taking the product experience to the next level

The Microsoft Holo Lens mixed reality headset (AR + VR tech), the Oculus Rift (VR), and other headsets makers are already dabbling in retail and the various possible applications. 

Product previewing will be taken to a whole new level with these headsets, allowing customers at home or at the store to visualize products before buying them, inspecting them in the virtual (VR) or real space (AR).

Imagine sitting at home, browsing for some new sneakers. You scroll through a company’s site, spotting the thumbnail of a pair you like. Instead of just settling for a couple of pictures, AR and VR headsets will allow you to examine and interact with a virtual representation of this piece of footwear. Nike, for example, has already begun dabbling with this.

Augmented reality marketing startup Vyking will take it a step further, showing in a 2018 concept demo that it will allow the customer to visualize the sneakers on their feet through their mobile AR technology. 

In 2017, furniture franchise IKEA has even showcased a virtual reality showroom, where customers can interact with furniture in the showroom in intuitive ways, allowing them to change the color of a sofa for example.

“Consumers are increasingly looking for ways and means to engage and connect with brands, but brands will need to get smarter and reinvent their retail spaces to give the consumers a holistic product experience and not just a billing station for sale,” Narendra Menon, Managing Director at Nikon MEA FZE, told AMEinfo

mPOS – Payment made faster and smoother

Today, we’ve already become accustomed to the sight of mPOS’s in all our favourite stores. mPOS stands for mobile point of sale, and is basically a cashier terminal with mobile payment functionality built into it, allowing for the use of services such as Apple Pay

According to a study by Juniper Research published last year, the adoption of mPOS devices connecting wirelessly or via mobile devices, such as those from iZettle and Square, will drive annual mPOS transactions to over 87 billion by 2023. This will represent a threefold increase over an estimated 28 billion transactions in 2018.

Naturally, 5G will allow for unrivalled connection speeds and latency, providing customers with a swift, smooth purchasing experience. 

Retailers rejoice: Juniper Research’s research also found that the average price of an mPOS device will drop from $40 in 2018 to approximately $33 by 2023, making it easier to equip your store or franchise chain with a multitude of these.

“Smart” interfaces – They know what you want before you do

Flashy screens inside or outside stores advertising products are so last century. The future is “smart.”

How so? With a high-speed network in place, interactive touch displays will allow for customer input and personalization in the marketing delivered.

Walking into a store, you would be welcomed by what Adobe’s describes as “smart mirrors,” such as Neiman-Marcus’ Memory Mirror, which will memorizes what outfits a customer has tried out after filming a 360-degree video of them. It would then allow the consumer to compare outfits on the screen side by side, remembering their choices. 

However, that’s only scratching the surface. 

“Newer modalities of services will occur in businesses via artificial intelligence powered robots carrying tablets on their chests to provide a wide range of services,” Akshay Sharma, a kiosk industry consultant specialized in telecom kiosks at Beesion, said. “Such devices will include AI interfaces to IBM Watson or other AI engines with recommendations based on past selections and what is on sale. These devices can also use facial recognition to identify customers and identify mood to recommend products and services.”

Basically, interactive surfaces (which have integrated cameras), whether mounted on robots or not, will display different information based on the customer’s gender, age, mood and purchase history, allowing for a personalized shopping experience like never before. You walk in to a store, and you are welcomed not by people, but by screens that know exactly who you are and what you are interested in, made possible through the speed and power of 5G. 

The same would happen when you walk by a storefront, where the screens outside identify you as a previous customer, flashing products that would interest you. Even if you are a new customer, the interface would analyze your face, identify your demographic and advertise to you accordingly.

This future is mind-blowing… if not a little bit scary.