5G adoption in retail stores will triple by 2024, study finds

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An overwhelming majority of U.S. retailers expect 5G usage in their stores to explode over the next three years as customers seek more of a digital in-store experience, according to new research from Verizon and the Incisiv market research company.

According to the 2022 Connected Retail Experience Study, this will lead to a rapid increase in 5G adoption in stores, to the point where it could triple by 2024.

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The study found that 93% of retailers expect in-store phone usage to increase over the next few years. Many are worried about their ability to handle all this traffic and will look to deploying private and hybrid 5G networks in their retail spaces to handle it.

In fact, Verizon and Incisiv believe the move to 5G will be inevitable for most retailers as they compete to provide customers with the best in-store experiences and the number of cloud-based store apps will increase over the of the next few years.

The biggest driver for retailers is the increase in the number of mobile devices customers use in stores, followed by the increase in mobile devices used by associates.

Existing networks cannot keep up

While many retailers are happy with the security aspects of their networks, they are far from happy with the performance of the core network, and this will only get worse as technology deployments and the number of mobile devices increase.

Today, most retailers rely on traditional Wi-Fi networks, but these simply cannot provide coverage and bandwidth as efficient as 5G, especially in large retail spaces. retail such as grocery stores and department stores.

Some retail chains have dipped their toes in 5G waters, but adoption remains low at just 13%. This figure is expected to triple by 2024-25, with the largest increase seen among grocery and general merchandise retailers.

What 5G can bring to stores

Not all of these 5G rollouts will be for customers, of course. Many stores are also going private 5G networks for real-time inventory management, mobile point-of-sale systems, digital shelf labels, robotics and interactive displays.

Retailers interviewed for the study also cited a number of customer experience capabilities that 5G could help deliver, including support for cashierless payment, mobile apps with in-store functionality, and even locker rooms. virtual machines and AR/VR assistants.

Unsurprisingly, specialty stores and department stores focused more on things like mobile apps, interactive displays, mobile POS, and AR/VR apps, while grocery and general merchandise retailers focused on supporting cashierless checkouts, digital shelf labels, and curbside pickup apps.

According to the study, retailers estimate that 67% of in-store tasks will be automated by 2025, with the need for low-latency 5G networks at the heart of ensuring seamless real-time communications, but it’s just as much to meet customer needs. who now expect to live in a much more connected world.

As Jerri Traflet, Verizon’s Global Solutions Managing Partner, explains, “Customers are demanding more from their in-store, mobile and online experiences, and 5G provides the foundational capability to deliver those experiences.”

The biggest barrier to retail 5G rollouts has been cost and the lack of a clear return on investment, but as 5G technology becomes more affordable and their existing wireless networks begin to reach full capacity, they will have no choice but to turn to 5G to meet their business needs.

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