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How 5G Wireless, AI and IoT Are Changing Retail and How We Shop: Jeff Kagan

Retail is changing. 5G wireless, AI, IoT, VR and more are changing the way we shop. What are leading retailers doing? How are new retailers changing the space? This is both a risk and an opportunity.
Equities columnist Jeff Kagan is a telecom, technology and wireless analyst and consultant. He covers 5G, AI, IoT, the metaverse, autonomous driving, healthcare, telehealth, pay TV and more. Follow him at and on Twitter @jeffkagan and LinkedIn.
Equities columnist Jeff Kagan is a telecom, technology and wireless analyst and consultant. He covers 5G, AI, IoT, the metaverse, autonomous driving, healthcare, telehealth, pay TV and more. Follow him at and on Twitter @jeffkagan and LinkedIn.

iStockphoto, peterhowell

Traditional retail is under attack. In fact, it has been under attack for decades. Some say it may have started with in the early 1990s. While that had a big impact and still does, retail is always changing. These days, retail stores and chains, and in fact entire shopping malls have closed. Today, the big threat looks like it will come from 5G wireless.

5G wireless will launch many new ideas and new ways for people to shop. That is both a threat and a growth opportunity for the traditional retail industry. Actually, companies like acquiring Whole Foods is another big example of the level of transformation we can expect going forward.

It’s a threat for retailers who do not change with the times. It’s also an opportunity for those who do change and lead the way. And for those who adopt this new paradigm, as well as newcomers to launch and grow in this fertile space.

5G is the new threat and opportunity for retail growth over next decade.

This change wave will completely reinvent all of retail over the next decade.

Nearly ten thousand retail stores closed in 2019 alone, and this alarming trend is continuing. This impacts old time retailers like Sears, K-Mart and now Macy’s. This also impacts countless other retail brands who are either shrinking or who have closed.

We have seen this battle go on over decades. As new ideas and new trends drive growth, others fail and drive store closures. Think about all the grocers, electronics stores, bookstores, clothing stores and more that have closed over the last few decades.

This is the continual process of retail refreshing and transforming itself over and over again.

Yesterday’s grocers have been replaced by newcomers, like Whole Foods, Publix, Kroger, Trader Joes, Sprouts, Fresh Market and more, who grow while other competitors whither and ultimately die. Think about all the grocery stores we shopped at twenty or thirty years ago. They are gone. Replaced.

Many companies adopt new industry changes and continue to lead while others stick stubbornly to their guns and ultimately suffer the consequences in the long run.

5G, AI, IoT, smartphone are transforming retail

5G, AI, IoT, the Cloud and more are the next big threat and opportunity in this ongoing transformational battle in the retail industry.

Think about how the smartphone will impact the way we shop. We will walk into a store and sensors will recognize our smartphones and open our account apps. We walk around and shop. Then we simply walk out. Sensors will scan what we have and charge our credit card on our account.

It is that simple. No unloading then reloading the carts at the checkout stand. In fact, it has already begun in several test stores from national brands.

This is a massive undertaking of technology that every retailer will have to embrace in order to remain competitive and viable in the marketplace.

Things will change quickly with 5G, AI, IoT and the Cloud

IoT, AI and the cloud will also play a large role in the shopping experience. As you enter the store, they will know who you are, what you like, what you purchased in the past and much more. They will offer you personalized sales items and promotions to get your attention.

The apps will tell you where the items they are offering you are located on a store map on your smartphone screen. They may be simultaneously shown on an in-cart screen. In fact, the entire shopping experience will be transformed.

All this change may be a bit creepy for many shoppers who will get the feeling they are being watched. And they are. Ultimately however, the customer base will get used to this new reality.

Shoppers will both love and hate this new technology

We must realize that to move to this next level, we must give up more privacy. There will be some pushback, but it will happen in order to get benefits of tomorrow with new technology.

We must stay tuned-in to make sure the protections of privacy are there or we will all be in trouble down the road.

This will be a process that will play out over the next decade and even longer. While some customers will initially love it, others will push back. However, over time they will all eventually buy-in and embrace this new technology.

After all, everyone both loves and hates their iPhone or Android smartphone. They love what they can now do, but at the same time they hate the invasion of privacy they must deal with. It’s a tradeoff.

Virtual Reality or VR will play increasing role in retail

Retail will be impacted by 5G, wireless, IoT, AI, the cloud, virtual reality and all sorts of other technologies that will enable the users to see themselves in different clothing on a smart-mirror, or any of the other incredible things we have in store in the coming years.

In fact, they can shop at home using these same photos to help make a buying decision before they even get to the store.

This is a challenge for the user, but this is an even bigger challenge and expense for retailers. The retail industry must jump in before their competition beats them to the punch. Over the next several years there will be an ever-increasing move toward this new retail reality.

What customers expect and demand will change as well. So, like in the past with every other challenge they face, retailers must quickly adapt or die. The choice is up to the executive management of every retailer in the USA and in fact the world.

5G will ultimately impact every retailer. Period. How they prepare and how quickly they do so is the only real question.

Jeff Kagan is an columnist. Kagan is an Industry Analyst, Key Opinion Leader and Influencer focused on Wireless, Telecom, Pay TV, Cloud, AI, IoT, Health Tech, Healthcare, Automotive and self-driving cars. Email him at [email protected]. His web site is Follow him on Twitter @jeffkagan.


Equities Columnist: Jeff Kagan

Source: Equities News

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