T-Mobile Says 5G and Embedded Payments Set to Unlock New Connected Retail Experiences – PYMNTS.com

Even in the early days of its commercial rollout, we know that 5G has the fastest throughput and connective capability of any standard yet conceived, but it remains somewhat of abstract. That era is setting as 5G solutions and experiences begin appearing in stores and homes.
In a conversation for the series “Digital Payments Flip the Script: 10 Merchants and 10 Visions for Digital Transformation,” a PYMNTS and PayPal collaboration, Chris Melus, vice president of product development, advanced wireless solutions at T-Mobile for Business, discussed the many ways 5G tech is either about to transform whole industries, or is already doing so.
There’s a very long list of industries and activities on the cusp of a 5G revolution, but bringing the conversation straight to commerce, retail and payments first, Melus talked about everything from extended reality (XR) applications for merchants and brands to the speed and security of payments on new 5G networks purpose-built for these use cases.
Among many promising use cases, Melus said 5G can transform the in-store experience by freeing shoppers from that lost feeling where they need an associate and can’t find one.
“Wouldn’t it be great if you could virtually talk to another associate at another location who maybe isn’t as busy?” he said. “You can bring that experience and have people come all the way across the country and be there and help a customer without having them have to wait so they can quickly go out.”
He added, “Today, they’re probably a little saddled with really the poor connectivity that most physical stores have, so they don’t even think of these things as being possible. As 5G comes together, we really think it’s going to unlock a lot of creativity in the retail space.”
Learn more: Competition Highlights Future Retail Use Cases for 5G XR
5G Unlocking Virtual Virtuosity
There are other retail frustrations 5G can relieve, including some of the most common frictions of shopping in physical stores and wanting to buy, but not wanting to wait.
He said we’ve all had the experience of being in a retail store, finding the item we want, then looking at the long checkout line and bailing on the transaction. That’s a friction that costs conversions, and 5G applications are one way merchants can avoid that scenario. The ability to authenticate customers securely in-store speedily adds a new dimension in physical settings.
“Let them check out in the way that they like,” he said. “If it’s with a human, great, if it’s with an avatar, fantastic, versus just going to a kiosk or even with own personal devices to check out,” an experience we can expect to encounter before long.
Payments choice figures prominently too, as he said having several options at the POS is critical for customers’ interactions, seeing that level of connectivity in the store as the foundation for how retailers will provide new customer experiences going forward.
With its unprecedented processing power, 5G XR also brings to life virtual showroom experiences that blow past the comparatively clunky online interactivity of today.
“One of the ideas that we’re working with some retailers on now is having VR areas to go see those things you just couldn’t possibly put on the floor, but people still like to be able to touch and feel and walk around and look and see what they look like,” he said.
Making a 5G World
Outside of strict payments and retail commerce use cases, the monetization of 5G has immense applications from healthcare to data exchange to — yes — the metaverse.
Looking at that last one, Melus described how T-Mobile recently co-hosted a 5G XR retail challenge with partner Deutsche Telecom, from which came something called “Mall of the Metaverse.”
See also: 5G-Powered Smart Glasses Enable Immersive Shopping, Gaming and Learning
“They’re looking to create a 100-floor tower with over 100 million square feet of virtual retail space to be able to come and have people walk around that space and never leave their house, but get that full retail experience,” Melus said.
Supply chain is another area 5G is already transforming, but what it will soon do makes current applications pale by comparison. Using mobile edge computing, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) and “creating digital twins of their entire supply chain so they can anticipate choke points before they arrive” has huge supply chain implications.
Instead of getting the call that your cargo is stuck at Long Beach, he said, “Wouldn’t it be better if you can anticipate that, and route an order to another key supplier so that you don’t ever get stuck down in your supply chain? That’s difficult to do with the disparate networks today.”
Early adopters of 5G are concentrated in manufacturing, logistics and transportation, Melus said, but fast digital delights are coming to a store, website and metaverse near you, as he said, “T-Mobile’s 5G Advance Network Solutions is really an underpinning to be able to provide that.”
NEW PYMNTS SURVEY FINDS 3 IN 4 CONSUMERS WITH STRONG DEMAND FOR SUPER APPS
About: The findings in PYMNTS’ new study, “The Super App Shift: How Consumers Want To Save, Shop And Spend In The Connected Economy,” a collaboration with PayPal, analyzed the responses from 9,904 consumers in Australia, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S. and showed strong demand for a single multifunctional super apps rather than using dozens of individuals ones.
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