Consumers have made a significant shift to shopping and banking online and through their mobile devices. Despite this, the promised benefits of utilizing mobile to make the bricks-and-mortar experience more convenient and engaging have not yet come to fruition. Mobile devices have evolved significantly, but the bandwidth that serves as their backbone has not, leaving untapped potential for mobile devices. With the introduction of 5G networks, offering the next-generation of mobile internet connectivity at 20 times the speed, many of these limitations will disappear, allowing for a more immersive customer experiences.
Markets such as China and Switzerland have already deployed 5G networks, and many financial institutions and retailers have taken advantage of this new technology in creating a more efficient, seamless, immersive experience for their customers. North America is currently implementing 5G in limited markets. Brands should take the opportunity to learn from markets where actual programs are in play.
To help bring greater context to how this high-powered digital connectivity can be fully leveraged, we have identified five insights you need to consider as you plan for 5G deployment in your market.
The Real Value is Supporting IoT: The actual value of 5G is the bandwidth that makes it possible to connect to an unlimited number of internet-of-things devices. This interconnectedness allows retailers and bankers to gain more useful insights on customer shopping or banking behavior. Stores and branches can be transformed into responsive platforms, delivering curated, personalized content and information to each customer through their mobile devices. Retailers are also leveraging IoT through smart everything, from hangers that monitor how often garments are picked up but not purchased to which areas of a store are shopped most frequently. The store or branch now becomes a way to better understand what consumers want and deliver it to them in ways that are more meaningful.
Rethinking Your Digital Content Strategy: Content will evolve to include more videos, higher resolution imagery and new channels including AR, VR and interactive technologies. The benefits of AR mobile-enabled devices, which is now the norm, provide for more exceptional content that engages on a deeply creative, entertaining level.
Tools to Remove Further Friction Points: The main benefit of current technologies is the elimination of crucial customer shopping friction points, including how consumers order, shop and pay within a retail store or complete transactions in a bank. 5G networks will make it possible to leverage the full power of biometric and facial recognition technologies, eliminating the hassle of PINs, punch pads and having to show ID.
Banks in China have created smart banking platforms supported by 5G networks that allow for facial recognition, curated content and access to a wide range of automated banking services traditionally delivered by humans. All of this is made possible by the combination of a faster network, IoT, machine learning and robotics. While these technologies are exciting from a security standpoint, they will also need to be introduced carefully to North American consumers who may feel biometric information is not something they want to share. Brands must be transparent and test technologies in limited markets first to gauge reaction and determine when and where to deploy.
A New Level of Employee Engagement: 5G will allow sales associates to be untethered from the cash desk. Through the use of tablets, associates will be able to recognize customers by name, understand prior shopping behaviors and be able to complete the entire transaction side by side. 5G supported ERP programs can better link store or branch activities, advise on the right staffing level and provide appropriate information to frontline employees. Back office training takes on a whole new meaning with VR training programs, allowing employees to practice the best approaches to customer engagement.
Creating a Deeper Level of Immersive Experiences: Current immersive experiences generally consist of large digital screens but due to various concerns, such as hygiene, the interactive components may be used less than intended. New high-resolution technologies such as VR, AR and holographic projection systems have greater ability to deliver rich high-resolution content and connect to consumers’ devices. The link between these technologies and customer’s mobile device will become seamless with the content being shared instantly between numerous devices.
5G represents the next benchmark of digital technology, impacting all aspects of our lives. Similar to the first introduction of home computers– which initially lacked a clear purpose until new software programs made it easier for users to adapt–5G will take time for retailers and banks to test what works and what is just a pipe dream.