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How 5G Is Changing E-Commerce for a More Vivid Buyer Experience

January 2020


Fifth generation (5G) wireless technology connects many modern devices, from smart appliances to smartphones, to the internet. The technology is currently available to some mobile users in various countries, such as the United States, China and Turkey, with more countries adopting at a rapid rate.

Faster data speeds, decreased latency, higher connection density and many more upsides accompany 5G, which will impact a lot of industries, especially e-commerce. In the next two years alone, 5G will help drive $12 billion to mobile commerce, boosting sales and opportunities for growth in the space. So, with all of this in mind, let’s take a closer look at why 5G is having such a huge impact on the e-commerce space:

Mobile Commerce

One of the biggest and most obvious trends since the rise of smartphones has been the increase in mobile browsing and purchasing within the e-commerce sector (and beyond). As of January of 2019, according to CIO Dive, upwards of 70 percent of all internet traffic comes from a mobile device — an impressive number, to say the least.

Because of this, merchants have moved towards optimizing their online storefronts and checkout experiences for mobile devices — making them as quick (and frictionless) as possible. Yes, taking things to a “frictionless” level is of the utmost importance, but 5G has taken things to a new, never-before-seen level …

With 5G, mobile load times are virtually instantaneous — up to 100 times faster than 4G, in fact — meaning that short attention spans and instant-gratification users can find (and buy) what they want, when they want it from websites and Instagram ads without having to worry about lengthy (and annoying) load times.

Interestingly enough, a 2018 study found that 60.9 percent of digital shoppers in the U.S. regularly abandon their carts due to site errors or untimely e-store crashes. Because of this and a host of other reasons, with 5G a realistic option for all, e-commerce entrepreneurs must optimize their websites for mobile use, faster, more reliable load times and buyer conversion.

Market Confluence

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have been in the news for some time now, and for good reason. VR and AR are revolutionizing the way many things are done. When it comes to e-commerce, both technologies can help transform the online buying process

Have you ever wanted to buy something online, but hesitated without seeing or touching the product in person? With VR and AR, you can easily see products in 3D, rotate their position, enlarge or shrink them and more. In other words, these technologies put you in a virtual space with the item you’re considering.

Further strengthening the point, I was recently at Shopify Unite. There, I learned for myself that the general consensus from Shopify employees was that merchants — depending upon the niche, of course — could experience upwards of two-and-a-half times the conversion rates when deploying 3D-interactive technology. 

With 5G, VR and AR will experience so little latency and lag time it’ll likely be undetectable by a human. Seemingly instantaneously, a shopper with 5G can use a platform, like Amazon, to shop for furniture, while simultaneously seeing what the pieces would look like in his or her own space.

Almost seems a bit futuristic, doesn’t it? Believe it or not, Shopify has already launched their own AR toolkit for small, product-pushing businesses. Thankfully, with 5G, these kinds of technologies will only be further enhanced for the benefit of both the buyer and merchant.

AI Assistance

In addition to AI changing the customer’s shopping experience, it can also greatly improve customer satisfaction. With the speed of 5G and the power of AI, it’s become increasingly easier for e-commerce businesses to serve their customers with online intelligence.

One company that’s been doing this really well is H&M. The online clothing retailer has a chatbot that can answer common questions and even suggest apparel for customers. In some ways, the algorithm is even better than using a personal shopper.

Large Applications

5G will make phones faster, but it’ll also increase the speed of many other devices.

For example, wearables will be able to obtain high-speed data faster than ever before. Wearable users have high engagement levels. The people who buy these devices are interested in other products and are open to new advancements.

From an e-commerce perspective, the rising number of wearables sold, the openness of wearable users and the speed at which the technology can function with 5G means online sellers can reach more engaged people more quickly than previously possible.

Other than phones and wearables, many other systems will impact e-commerce when they transition to 5G. With the rise in smart gadgets, people can now do things like shop and purchase groceries on a smart fridge’s display.

Customers can also order products through smart assistants, such as Google Home, without even using an interface. As 5G connects smart home devices, smart cars and other advanced technologies, it’ll be easier for people to make purchases online through various devices, supporting e-commerce sales.

Unknown Glitches

4G allowed customers to have the same shopping experience on a phone as on a laptop. Still, there was one big issue … It’s not uncommon for a 4G device to dip or slow when a customer is trying to pay or check out of an e-commerce store.

As you might imagine, this lag decreases a customer’s trust in the website he or she is using and can lead them to question the whole purchase — ultimately leading to increased bounce rates and abandoned carts. With the improved speed that 5G offers, users should literally experience zero friction when shopping, in theory, resulting in much better user experiences for e-commerce merchants.

With 5G, there should not be the dip in service that’s associated with 4G. Still, 5G will come with its own unique quirks that will change the way e-commerce is done. Smart online sellers need to constantly optimize for the pros and cons that will present hand in hand with 5G.

Improved Media

Did you know that 90 percent of information that travels to the human brain makes its way there through visual means? In other words, the eyes. To cater to this occurrence, brands have become increasingly more visual.

Although high-resolution photos and videos help companies succeed, offering these types of media can be difficult. Creating a great video is hard, and making sure it plays quickly and seamlessly enough to have the desired impact is even harder.

With 5G, e-commerce brands can offer an unparalleled video, image and high-resolution media viewing experience, ultimately boosting their bottom line. 

The Switch Is Underway

Change is inevitable, and those who fail to adapt will perish. Albeit a bit melodramatic, it’s true … 5G is changing e-commerce whether the industry is ready or not. Leaders in the space need to begin preparing for all of their customers to shift from 4G to 5G.

The start of better mobile connectivity can (and will) mean great things for online sales. However, “making it big” won’t be easy, and along the way, things are likely to not be as clear-cut or straightforward as once predicted …

That being said, great opportunities are on the horizon for those willing to put in the work. E-commerce will shift, and anyone who learns to capitalize on these technological innovations will be along for what should be a long and prosperous ride.

* Article Originally posted on Hacker Noon


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