Have you heard about 5G? The network upgrade starting to roll out around the globe has been a pretty popular topic of conversation, but what is it all about?
5G – a fifth generation mobile network – promises high speed increases to its predecessor, 3G and 4G. 5G networks have begun rolling out in select markets, and will be more broadly available in 2020. Still in the early stages, download speeds are already shocking even the most tech-savvy early adopters. Latency – defined as the amount of time it takes to send a query to a remote server and receive a reply – is also lightning-fast on 5G networks.
Without getting too technical, let’s just say, the speeds are blazing: one reviewer using the US’s Verizon 5G network was able to download an episode of a show on Netflix at high quality in 8 seconds, and a full-length feature film from Amazon Prime’s video app at the best quality in 90 seconds. Imagine what those speeds will do for practical things like searching for hotels or flights, or confirming payments on the fly.
5G Benefits to Merchants
Speed isn’t just great for watching videos while commuting on the bus or flicking through social apps. It’s also great for businesses of all types to leverage the technology, though retailers are most likely to see immediate benefit
At peak times in brick and mortar retail shops, customer queues tend to back up. Much of the waiting time can be attributed to transactions: the time it takes for the payment request to be sent from the terminal and confirmation to be received back can really add up. Imagine a system with 5G speeds, set up to receive payments from mobile wallets from customer devices. The speed of accessing cloud-based programs and data brings greater efficiency to customer interactions.
Expanding Point of Sale and Customer Service
The speed increase of 5G – and the nature of it being untethered, unlike traditional broadband-based devices – means point of sale and data collection opportunities can be placed anywhere they are needed. Mobile POS can be used throughout retail spaces or hotel lounges, restaurants, or even poolside, without worrying about hiccups in transactions. Hotels or travel agencies booking trips for clients can set up a station with an agent or concierge wherever it is convenient, showing clients options (including immersive videos or photo albums), and collect client data and payment information securely, and with ease.
Of course, online retailers will see a direct benefit to the adoption of 5G networks, so it pays – literally – to ensure your business has a user-friendly online presence.
The proliferation of smartphones and mobile apps means shoppers are more often opting to hop online at a convenient time and place, and do their shopping from the comfort of their device. As far as online shopping goes, the gap is closing between revenue gained from desktops and mobile devices – in 2015 smartphone visits represented 20% of revenues, and in 2017 that number was already up to 30%.
Traffic to websites from mobile devices has increased even more rapidly. Smartphone visits grew 89 percent between 2015 and 2018, and desktop visits decreased 17 percent. Mobile devices are taking over, and it’s largely because of the smooth experience of network speeds.
5G networks are projected to drive an additional $12bln USD in ecommerce revenue by 2021.