5G’s promise to deliver connectivity wherever you are, the so-called network of networks, has far reaching implications for business. Research by BCG for the GSMA has shown that mobile leaders have grown revenue 2x faster and have added jobs up to 8x faster than laggards. Clearly companies that are slow to adopt new mobile technology will be outpaced by those that do. 5G will deliver capabilities that are just not possible today so many businesses will need to rethink services and business models in light of this and none more so than the retail sector. The impact in retail promises to be significant but what kind of future possibilities will 5G enable?

Creating New Sales Experiences

Imagine walking into a store and being guided by augmented reality to the exact location of your purchase or walking through a virtual store to make your purchases. These virtual and augmented experiences on handsets are made possible by the capabilities of 5G. Producing realistic imaging for these experiences requires significant processing power and that requires cloud-based servers, it’s not possible to do this on a handset. Speed, latency and capacity are then key performance issues in delivering realistic content to a handset. 5G can deliver raw data rates of up to 10Gbps, which when combined with technologies like Mobile Edge Computing and Ultra Dense Networking, is able to deliver high speed, low latency communications to a large number of users simultaneously

Advanced Logistics Management

Imagine also if the precise location of raw materials and goods in a supply chain and the journey they had taken to get there were known. All the component parts could be marshalled in the right place, exactly when they were needed. The exact provenance of each would also be known so ensuring quality and ethical standards have been complied with. If all this were possible the whole supply chain and inventory management system will experience gains in efficiency as goods will now be safely manufactured and delivered just in time to meet demand. 5G combined with smart technologies will create this possibility. It has the capability to support a trillion low power devices with high mobility, high reliability and availability so this information is always available to businesses

Smart Energy Management

Imagine again if the environment in retail facilities could be accurately controlled and the use energy could be tailored to use environmentally friendly, renewable sources. The potential to dramatically reduce energy bills and at the same time protect the environment represents a huge opportunity for retailers to become more competitive and attractive to green consumer sentiment. 5G makes all this possible by creating a ubiquitous network that can connect many disparate networks together and tailor services to manage these as distinct virtual networks. This is truly the network of networks at work

What Should Retailers Do About 5G?

OK, so 5G is still a little way off being mainstream but how should retailers make sure they are positioned to take advantage of 5G when it arrives? They need to ask themselves what possibilities do they want to take advantage of in a 5G enabled world. What does their 5G