5G: Ecommerce and the Internet of Everything

5G: Ecommerce and the Internet of Everything

5G will release the full potential of IoT and revolutionise the way we live and do business. In fact, ecommerce has been predicted to grow by $12 billion by 2021 because of it. What could it mean for your Shopify store?

Written by Jason Stokes

5 min read

The tech world is alive with speculation and excitement, especially now as we reach the verge of the 4th Industrial Revolution. Artificial Intelligence, automation, and hyper-connectivity are still going to change the world in ways we can hardly imagine. The glue that will hold this new world together is unprecedented network coverage and speed, no matter where you are.

If you own an online store (or you’re planning on opening one soon) then you should already have your finger on the pulse of new tech, and be eager to understand how it can open new doors for you. Smart cities and autonomous cars aside, 5G can bring dynamic change to your business – even when presented in its simplest form. Once you understand how and why, you can start activating all your future plans.

Imagine maximum bandwidth

We take the internet for granted. We seem to think that wherever there are people around there should be internet connection. And most of the time we expect it to be strong and fast connection too. Public Wi-Fi hotspots and LTE coverage have conditioned us to the idea that the whole world must be able to browse, shop, download and stream at any time.

But that’s not actually the case. According to a Global Internet Use report by We are Social, there are many countries in the world that still aren’t experiencing the same internet activity acceleration as we are.

As you can see, there’s quite a low internet-to-person percentage in some places. The reason activity is so low may differ from region to region, but it’s safe to say that network/coverage is prevailing problem. With the rise of 5G this problem can get wiped away, and you can start bringing robust and effective cross-border strategies to life. With such a revolutionary expansion of possibility, your growth can become exponential.

And it’s not just about connecting more people. LTE networks run at capacity, and can sometimes struggle to bear the load we place on it. Think of the last time you came across a lagging page or a buffering wheel, how much frustration it caused – even if only for a moment. When this happens it’s very easy to get distracted or move onto a new task on your device.

When an online shopper runs into a connection issue, there’s a big chance they may leave the site to come back later – and then never do.

Losing a sale for something out of your control? No one wants that. (But, it does happen, so make sure you know all about abandoned cart recovery emails).

If it gets implemented as planned 5G will make blazingly fast internet available everywhere. We will have access to the kind of bandwidth that will let consumers reach all possible online touchpoints with uninterrupted connection.

So how fast will 5G be?

Up to ten times faster than 4G! Network speed is generally measured in bits per second (bit/s). But with the larger volumes of data supported by 5G speeds, data transfer rates are expressed in kilobits (kbit/s), megabits (Mbit/s), and, in future, even gigabits (Gbit/s) or terabits (Tbit/s).

But speed is not the only benefit that 5G will bring to our wireless network performance. 5G is also designed to scale according to your needs, regardless of the amount of connections the network has to deal with. This means having high speeds without compromising for efficiency or usage loads.

This all-encompassing ocean of data will run on higher frequencies than previous networks, opening up an untapped transmission space to expand into. These frequencies are called millimetre frequencies because the wavelengths are measured in millimetres.

The problem with MF is that smaller waves are more easily blocked and deflected by obstacles like walls. In order to get the coverage they want, service providers are planning on deploying smaller broadcasting stations in numbers that dwarf previous broadcast roll-outs (think every block). There have even been plans to broadcast from satellites.

When they say everywhere, they mean it.

Ecommerce in the 5G Era: The Universal Store

So, what does this all mean for ecommerce? How will 5G make that projected $12 billion growth a reality?

Well, because when friction is removed from the user experience, people respond, as Marketing Land expresses in this graph created by Adobe Analytics:

People want convenience and efficiency. Which is why the IoT is such a booming space. Compare the Cloud states it quite well:

“5G network will enable connectivity beyond the capability of its predecessors, releasing the full potential of the Internet of Things (IoT). It will advance mobile from a technology that connects people-to-people and people-to-information, to a central and unified process that connects everything to everything”

The IoT has already had a huge impact on ecommerce, even without 5G. Part of the tech revolution we are experiencing is the explosion of smart devices on the market. With compact and efficient computing, it’s already possible to have everything from your watch, your car, or your household appliances connected to the internet. This upsurge of connectivity has already been providing ecommerce with the unique opportunity of having new transaction touchpoints.

5G will amplify the IoT, because:

  • higher bandwidth capacity allows for more devices to be connected without sacrificing connection speed,
  • near-universal coverage means that devices can connect to the internet no matter where they are,
  • higher connection speeds allow users to make purchases quickly and efficiently on any device.

When people think of IoT, they often go over-board and enter a world of sci-fi scenery. While visions of the future may play out in due time, IoT has actually been around for longer than we’ve considered, and has already had a huge impact on the way we run our businesses online:

“The most important evolutionary step in implementing the vision of the Internet of Things took place in 2012 when the leading Internet groups switched to the Internet Protocol Version 6. This hugely increased the number of available IP addresses: whereas before 4.3 billion addresses had almost entirely been used up, there are now 340 sextillion free addresses available.”

With that in mind, we can consider how the internet itself has already changed the world. So what would an almost universal internet do?

With 5G, IoT can make anything possible across a massively expanded global market. It will ensure that every available touchpoint will function at its peak capacity for engagement, as latency, loading times and overall frustrations will no longer be an issue. You can now sell without limitation.

Bring your products to life

Now that the IoT is flooding us with convenient possibilities, it’s time for business owners to take action on opportunity. Augmented Reality is powered by technological innovation, and provides the sort of interactive experiences that will turn browsers into buyers.

What AR does is provide a space for your products to intersect with your users’ reality and allow you to present your products and services to your users in a way they can almost touch. 3D models of products are projected into users’ visual space through their phones, allowing them to inspect and appreciate the products almost exactly as they would in a store. Except now, they can even observe it in the environment that counts most – where they will be using it!

AR is being implemented across thousands of stores built on Shopify, and proves great success for conversion rates. But at times, AR’s potential can be dimmed by bandwidth limitations that users may face. Having your product’s model lag and stutter as the user moves around it will break immersion and ruin the experience. So even though the powers of AR are already proving success, 5G can only improve it.

The simple addition of completely reliable data transfer allows AR to become a true game-changer in UX design and implementation because it will allow products to be previewed seamlessly anywhere and at any time with close to zero latency.

Is it too soon to tell?

Plans for the deployment of 5G are already being implemented, and the rollout is estimated to be complete around 2021. Although, to date there are controversial conversations happening around the safety of 5G, and the impact it may have on our environment. We’ll be sure to keep you updated on new information that gets unveiled, but for now we’re excited to see what this new step forward will bring!

We’re keeping our focus on finding new ways to enhance your business and drive your growth, with or without 5G. Get in touch with us and we’ll shape the future of your success.

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