Gareth Smith, General Manager, Software Test Automation at Keysight Technologies: The rollout of 5G networks will transform the grocery sector by ushering in a new era of connectivity and experience. The advancements it enables will help mitigate many of the industry’s current pressures, such as supply chain inefficiencies and staffing shortages. The rollout of 5G networks will play a vital role in supporting the entire retail sector’s quest to deliver a frictionless omnichannel experience. The speed of mobile networks will accelerate dramatically, supporting a wave of innovations. At its core, 5G creates deeper, personalised experiences, enabling supermarket stores to increase sales and customer loyalty, helping improve margins.

Technology snapshot

5G heralds in a new era of mobile communications with vastly reduced latency and increased speeds allowing significantly more devices to access the internet simultaneously. The enhanced connectivity supports the seamless transfer of data and information, enabling a range of use cases that improve the efficiency of operations and deliver personalised experiences.

Here are four examples of the innovation that supermarkets can expect.

1. Cashier-less stores: 5G RFID tags and computer vision systems enable grocery chains to scale cashier-less stores, ending frustrating queuing experiences for customers. Stores will have the technology and price point required to move this from a concept to a mainstream solution for any and every supermarket store.

2. Logistical headaches: 5G supports the wide-scale deployment of sensors and RFID tags across the store. In addition, cloud-based back-end systems will be accessible in real-time, ensuring that inventory levels and equipment locations are always accurate and constantly monitored. As a result, supermarkets will be able to inform customers exactly when any missing items or fresh produce will be available as they will have visibility into every aspect of the supply chain down to when trucks will arrive and exactly how much of each item is on board. This will reduce the friction that customers are currently experiencing due to supply chain fluctuations.

The sensors will communicate when stock is low and request the supply chain to ship more or submit a reorder to ensure that the store never runs out of a product. 5G networks can easily handle the data required to be transmitted to support this dynamic environment and this could put an end to empty shelves.

3. Food wastage: 5G provides increased bandwidth from all parts of the business, supporting 360-degree visibility across the entire supply chain and removing much of the friction from existing processes and reducing losses from expired produce. Providing grocery stores with enhanced data on usage patterns per individual product line will further streamline operations and make zero wastage a reality.

4. Personalised shopping experiences: 5G networks can easily accommodate augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) innovations. These will deliver immersive experiences changing how shoppers interact with products. For example, the days of wandering up and down aisles trying to find items are over. With AR on your smartphone, you will be directed to the location and once there, the ingredients will be displayed by the VR app. In addition, it will cross-reference with your health data to ensure that there are no ingredients that you’re allergic to or conflict with your current medicines.

The rollout of 5G will underpin the blending of the physical and digital worlds through personalisation supported by AR and VR capabilities expanding beyond the smartphone, creating a much richer experience.

However, the increased complexity that 5G enables requires grocers to rethink how they test and monitor the performance of their digital properties. Critical to the successful rollout of the innovations is evaluating the entire connected experience to ensure it aligns with customer expectations. This is a crucial step for grocers hoping to reap the financial benefits from the innovations.

With the deployment of 5G networks, grocers can deliver an omnichannel experience that delights customers and improves operational efficiencies. It provides every store, irrespective of size and scale, with the ability to make the smart supermarket a reality.


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