Conversity: 5G is on its way, but retailers still aren’t doing enough to be disruptive in a challenging market

With this year's Mobile World Congress about to come to a close, discussions have inevitably focused on the future arrival of 5G connectivity, which could finally become a reality next year.

5G may be on our doorstep, but organisations in the retail sector need to focus on doing much more to be disruptive as far as the customer experience is concerned, before they can think about how to make the most of 5G. This is according to retail technology expert Conversity.

The latest developments from MWC 2018 have revealed that manufacturers and networks are now trialling 5G technology, raising the possibility that the first mobile devices which use the new telecoms standard will be unveiled in 2019. For a retail business looking at ways of differentiating through a superior customer experience, it can be easy to get carried away at this stage, given 5G's potential to further enrich and streamline the customer journey. However, according to Conversity CEO Dave Stark, retail organisations must address the current customer experience challenges they face, before they start thinking in earnest about 5G.

Stark said: "5G has the potential to revolutionise the way retailers interact with their customers, especially with the smartphone becoming an increasingly dominant force in the retail world. Smooth, reliable connectivity is also a powerful enabler of digital convergence across all sales channels, whether mobile, online or in-store. Looking to the future should always be front of mind, but there is so much more that retailers need to do right now to keep customer experiences fresh, informative and convenient. This is encapsulated by recent research by Forrester, which revealed that the average customer experience is actually getting worse, rather than better."

Core to this customer experience challenge is the fact that many retailers are still not doing a sufficient amount to disrupt in what is a tough market, by making full use of innovative technologies to help seize competitive advantage. As an example, research conducted by socPub discovered that 57 per cent of mobile users would not recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site.

Stark added: "This underlines how retailers need to do everything in their power to cater to the needs of the tech-savvy, mobile-focused generation of modern consumers. Unfortunately, this isn't happening frequently enough at present. Today's consumers expect their shopping experience to be straightforward, personalised, informative and convenient, so leveraging technologies that are able to do this will be instrumental in helping the most forward-thinking retailers to lay the groundwork for a successful future when 5G becomes the norm."

An example of innovative technology that can help retailers to establish themselves as disruptive forces is intelligent guided selling. This technology works by providing needs-based recommendations to customers, built from insights derived from purchasing histories and browsing habits. This cuts through the complexities attached to making retail purchases, ensuring that consumers get all the information they need in one place, and are less likely to end up buying the wrong product.

Stark concluded: "Intelligent guided selling is a strong example of the direction in which retailers should be looking: such technologies can be adopted right now, and are crucial tools in maximising the power of digital to increase sales across all channels, not just mobile. 5G will go a long way towards addressing connectivity challenges attached to enriching the customer experience, but first and foremost, innovation should centre on the positive changes that can be made in the present. If this is done, retailers will be much better prepared to maximise the potential of 5G."

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