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5G promises to take retailers’ understanding of customers to new heights

Improved mobile connectivity, enabled by 5G, will take retailers and commercial businesses’ understanding of how customers shop to entirely new levels, a landmark new report from mobile operator O2 has concluded.
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Released on 14 March, The value of 5G for cities and communities report reveals how 5G technology will “update the operating systems” of UK cities, whilst generating £6bn in productivity savings for the economy.

For retailers, 5G will introduce new fittings and fixtures in bricks and mortar stores, enabling them to become better connected to shoppers’ smartphones and appliances.

According to the report, 5G will permit retail businesses, advertisers and service providers to use real-time mobile data to deliver a more-engaging, personalised shopping experience to customers.

For shoppers, O2 asserted that 5G would make buying goods and services via mobile quicker, easier and more secure. For every household that moved to doing their weekly shop on a smartphone, 5G would save them 91 hours a week, for example.

Meanwhile, in retail, as well as in banking and healthcare, six minutes would be saved from every customer service interaction, as 5G will introduce chatbots that can respond to more than 38 million requests a year from customers.

The report follows a government announcement, made earlier this month, which launched six new 5G technology trials, in areas like industrial output, smart tourism and Internet-of-Things-enhanced farming, amongst others.

The companies overseeing those projects are winners of a 5G “trials and testbeds” competition – part of the government’s £1bn digital strategy it launched in 2017.

In his Spring Statement yesterday, chancellor Philip Hammond announced more than £95m in digital infrastructure investment for 13 areas of the UK. The investment is the first wave of finance under the government’s £190m Challenge Fund to rollout superfast broadband across the country.

Speaking at the launch of O2’s report, digital minister Margot James said: “We’re already investing £25m in new testbeds across the UK that will pave the way for our 5G future and our work with industry will be vital to help us achieve our ambitions.

“We want the UK to be a world leader in 5G, and this report highlights the huge potential we have to get ahead and reap the benefits of this exciting new technology.”

Mark Evans, chief executive at O2, added: “Of all the ingredients that keep our economy and society moving, arguably top of the list is mobile. When it arrives, 5G technology will provide unprecedented benefits for consumers, councils and cities alike.

“The enhanced connectivity on offer will make a real difference to people’s lives and pockets. However, none of these benefits are assured. We need a high level of collaboration to press ahead with the rollout and to hardwire 5G into the fabric of our cities.”

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About Author

Fred Heritage

Fred Heritage is the former deputy editor of Real Business sister title Business Advice, and has previously worked as a reporter for magazines including the Global Trade Review. Fred has a MA in international conflict studies from Kings College London, and a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent.

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