How 5G, IoT & AI redefine the in-store retail transformation

Article By : Kaushal Naik

The role of retail stores has changed at an unprecedented rate. Customers prefer buying things online than offline as they have more options...

The role of retail stores has changed at an unprecedented rate. Customers prefer buying things online than offline as they have more options and choose products at their convenience. However, it is not a good sign for brick-and-mortar stores, to keep the store’s relevant retailers should create seamless omnichannel experience synchronizing with the digital and in-store retail experience. Let us take a closer look at how this digital innovation will redefine the entire customer experience (CX).

A recent research report found that customers are willing to share their data with brands, and 63% of US customers will share more information with a company that will offer a great customer experience. This means retailers will get a chance for personalizing the sales journey. With the enormous availability of data, retailers will get quality insights like which product may interest their customers or will be a potential customer.

Another study noted that 91% of customers will shop only with recognized brands that too provide personalized recommendations. Customers love if they get personalized recommendations and are more likely to purchase their product.

It is more meaningful if your shopping experience has some personal touch. The power of 5G, the internet of things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) will have a huge impact on retailers’ ability to deploy applications that optimize the customer’s shopping experience. However, to make these things possible, data plays an important role.

With personalization being the key to improving customer experience, it is time for retailers to focus more on ‘customer interaction’ than ‘customer engagement’. Customers need a more convenient shopping experience with wide choices, a wide selection of similar offerings, and easy accessibility.

Let us look at some of the most exciting initiatives impacting retail as a result of 5G, AI and connected devices.

IoT in In-store Retail Transformation

IoT is a fundamental component of innovation for a broad range of capabilities. IoT represents the emerging innovations in almost every area of retail experience, from smart shelves to automated self-checkout machines, RFID tags, counting footfalls, etc. IoT is growing and has become the core of digital innovations taking place in every retail environment.

A recent study found that IoT hardware application in retail is expected to grow more than $94 billion by 2025. That involves personalized solutions, smart shelves, and in-store product layouts.

IoT-enabled technologies can also keep track of goods stored in your supply chain journey. Organizations can improve visibility on quality control and easily monitor control temperature, and access real-time location of goods.

No Cashier Stores

Customers do not want to wait, and it is the biggest pain point when it comes to standing in checkout lines. The reason can be anything whether the cashier is slow or there are a lot of items at the checkout process. These are enough reasons that retailers want to go for cashier-less retails stores.

As Amazon launched its store ‘Amazon Go’ in 2019 where it does not have a cashier, you just need to pick items from the shelves and walk out of the store. And Walmart launched the ‘Scan and Go’ service.

All this is possible with a combination of cameras, sensors, AI, etc. To make an easy and convenient shopping experience retailer are looking to explore new ways to improve CX. Soon we can expect to see many retailers follow these trends.

In-Store Retail Shopping with Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality (AR) and 5G have the potential to change the in-store shopping experience completely and it will be much more interesting for the customers. There are over a billion smartphones with consumers that are AR enabled making them more accessible, economical, and easy to execute.

AR can facilitate customers’ in-store navigation and help them reduce the time spent searching for the product they want. In-store navigation can also be paired with personalized marketing where a retailer can display personalized offers on a product based on their purchase history with AR and AI, resulting in a shopping experience and higher conversion rate.

AR can also support contactless trials, where customers can try new clothes in-store. With the help of AR and video walls, customers can take trials with different colors, sizes, etc, which will give retailers an edge to maintain the stock of particular colors and sizes.

According to a study by Goldman Sachs, the market for AR and VR in retail is estimated to reach $1.6 billion by 2025. And Gartner says more than 100 million customers will have AR shopping experience in-store or online in 2020.

5G in Retail Transformation

Complete 5G deployment in retail is underway that requires testing and deploying new connected devices that can support next-generation networks. It will give a boost to deploy new IoT applications in retail for higher bandwidth with fast throughput. In the retail sector, it is not just about selling products but also it needs to deliver quality service with better experiences. It should be interactive, intuitive, and on-going customer engagement with pre-sales and post-sales stages to meet the benchmark. 5G will speed up the retail transformation in various stages like:

5G AR & VR in Retail Transformation: 5G will boost mobile broadband that provides customers better product information while they are in-store. For example, let’s consider a simple use case: Mr. X walks into his favorite store to buy groceries, as he walks through the store, he receives a notification to get connected to the store’s Wi-Fi. After he agrees, the store scans his shopping list that he was building at his home on his app. Using his previous shopping habits and scanning the shopping list, the smart shelves display the location of the items he is looking for and shows personalized offers.

Personalizing the offerings with optimizing assortment will increase sales, lowering the waste, and giving cross and up-sell opportunities. Whether it is in person or offline that can likely improve conversion rates.

Retailers strive for a way to gather consumer details and get a holistic view of the consumers through various channels to keep ahead of the competition. To personalize customer experience, retailers can leverage creative technologies to provide an insightful approach to resolving customer problems by training consumers on different product features and the streamlining customer journey.

Although the store of the future is still in infancy, all those technologies mentioned above do exist for commercial use.

— Kaushal Naik is a Marketer at eInfochips

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