Retail and service sectors are ideal environments for the next generation technology of 5G. Dynamic and fast moving, innovation opportunities are vast and can be introduced across a wide scope of sectors. Examples would be sales demonstrations to virtual shop assistants, staff training and even smart shelving. Here’s how 5G could change the world of retail.
Note that these offerings are currently available on 4G networks. With 5G they can move beyond the limits of current technology and offer new, more immersive experiences.
AR and VR immersive retailing
With the ultra-high speed of 5G, retailers could create immersive experiences for customers. This means before you go on holiday, you could virtually try on new clothes or visit a hotel. House hunting? Augmented reality could even show a three-dimensional rendering of a new housing development. You could also install a smart mirror in-store.
While 5G technology is crucial to building virtual environments, networks can struggle to manage the large amount of data. This means there’s a chance of lag in the network. Delays can make people feel uncomfortable and dizzy as they move through a virtual space – this is also known as cyber sickness. The processing power of 5G also removes the need for bulky VR headsets. Real-time interaction needs a low-level of latency that 5G can offer.
Making VR and AR available on mobile devices will be a key factor in the retail and service sectors. Edge computing over 5G could better distribute network demand to make these realities more available.
Brands make virtual stores a reality
Software company Trillenium uses online AR store experiences for fashion and shoe retailers. Their software enables you to shop on your mobile and see shoes and clothes in high-resolution 3D.
Luxury lifestyle travel agency Zanadu has also created a cutting-edge showroom to provide an immersive experience of holiday and hotel options.
Marie Claire have partnered with Mastercard to trial retail innovations. This included 24/7 window shopping and smart mirror technology in each of the fitting rooms.
Watch the concept store video
High speeds and low latency of 5G could be used to create AI-powered robot assistants. In-store robots could free up employee time to spend on customer interactions as well as reducing customer wait times. They could also allow retail stores to be open for longer without increasing labour costs.
Using 5G technology, robots could become smaller across the board. This would add to their potential use in the retail space. 5G edge-computing could also help by taking the bulk of the processing out of the robotic unit.
Robot assistance in action
Finavia and Telia have brought a 5G robot to Helsinki Airport. The robot can deliver real-time video streaming from the terminal, monitoring through remote or autonomous control. Lost your way? The 5G robot can even guide you through the terminal.
Japanese retailer Softbank have introduced a new member to their team. Meet Pepper, a four foot human-like robot. Pepper can have two-way conversations with customers, read your emotions and describe the differences in products.
Watch a video of Pepper
VR trains staff
The low latency of 5G creates opportunity for greater use of Mixed Reality (MR), a combination of virtual environments (AR or VR) and real environments. This works to create a more immersive training tool. MR is also engaging, cost-effective and could give new employees the ability to learn in a virtual world, without disrupting existing staff or customers.
MR could also provide a seamless way for employees to understand the operation. It could give knowledge of customer interaction, working the counter, stock management, inventory systems, outages and emergency procedures. The experiences can be tailored for specific scenarios, for example, the Boxing Day sales.
With an estimated 150,000 employees needing annual training, retail giant Walmart is using VR to create a cost-effective programme. Soon, all 200 staff of the company and United States training centres will use VR instruction.
KFC has gamified training by creating a VR experience for new employees. In the game, the aim is to escape a locked room by completing the restaurant’s five-step cooking process.