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Sep 06 2019

Retailers and shoppers rejoice. 5G connects you like never before!

At a recent Business After Hours event in Dallas, where Verizon and Nokia showcased 5G to enterprise customers, I had many discussions about how businesses need to stay on top of 5G. While this applies to all businesses, I believe it is the retailers who are likely to be among the most enriched by the wealth of innovation that 5G will unleash. Let me explain.

When was the last time you purchased something? Was it an expensive ‘one off’ type item? Something more mundane like groceries or a special treat for yourself?

The retail industry is quite complex, not only at the consumer side but also in how the goods are produced and distributed.

There are different categories of the products we buy.  Convenience products are everyday items such as groceries, cleaning products, newspapers and magazines. Then you have ‘shopping’ products like clothing, luggage, housewares, household appliances, hairdressing, ‘Specialty’ products are jewelry, sporting goods, camping equipment, bikes and cars and then finally ‘unsought’ products like warranties, some types of exercise equipment, concerts and events.

Each of these categories could have some different form of production, distribution, promotion, and purchase method. In each of areas, technology has made many positive changes across the retail industry and spurred new business models, so what can we expect with the advent of 5G?

Supply chain and production

Making the supply chain faster, more predictable, and cheaper is key to offering consumers a differentiated service.

Massive machine type communication provides asset tracking of raw materials, partial and completed goods down to millimeter level precision using highly accurate indoor positioning to optimize inventory against production volumes.

5G ultra-reliability with edge computing enables smart factories where only the floors and walls are fixed. Robotic systems work alongside humans on repetitive and mundane tasks.  People and robots will have the ability to be moved into different locations on the production line and re-tasked to accommodate varying demands in terms of product types and volume.

Using augmented reality for operational and maintenance personnel provides instant updates on the operating condition of all systems as they walk through the factory.  Virtual and augmented reality devices will deliver the ability to provide guidance on repairs to minimize downtime.

Distribution and logistics

Using ultra-low-latency and high reliability 5G networks will enable truck platooning and potentially semi and fully autonomous vehicles.  This advanced wireless communication with road infrastructure could reduce delivery times for raw materials, improve last mile delivery options, and use ground and aerial based vehicles to reach consumers 24/7.

Purchase and post-sales care

Enhanced bandwidth and low latency provide more opportunity to deliver interactive and immersive advertising.  By moving from a 2D to 3D experiences, customers can ‘try on’ clothes in virtual dressing rooms using volumetric video. In-store experiences using augmented reality to enhance the physical store experience provides more detail on products.

Higher-end specialty products and large electrical appliances can be connected to the cloud creating a ‘digital twin’ allowing customer service agents to see and resolve specific usage issues and assist customers in using the product.

With the advent of ‘haptic’ technologies relying on ultra-low latency, consumers will be able to touch and feel products using AR/VR, reducing the need to visit physical stores and shortening the purchase cycle.

5G will provide massive opportunity in terms of new business models, in how we produce, distribute and sell goods and services to consumers. Maybe the phrase ‘shop until your drop’ could become a thing of the past as the retail industry continues its digital transformation, delivering the extraordinary with 5G.

Nokia already has a range of 5G proof points. We have 42 commercial 5G contracts with mobile operators  over 100 5G engagements. See our 5G solutions in action.

We also have business planning tools that can help you identify the costs and revenue upside of 5G. Learn how we can take the guesswork out of your 5G plans.

Whatever your plans for 5G, don’t wait. It’s closer than you think, and the opportunity is there for the taking.

Share your thoughts on this topic by joining the Twitter discussion with @nokianetworks or @nokia using #5G #AI #industry40 #VR #spectrum #retail

About Jason Elliott

As part of Nokia's 5G market development team, Jason combines his broad technical and market knowledge to advance the future of communications. He has contributed to showcasing many ‘industry firsts’ at technology events around the globe and is impassioned to show how technology can have a positive impact on our world.

Tweet me @jre_elliott

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