5G and edge computing are helping retailers work smarter behind the scenes


This article is part of the Technology Insight series, funded by Intel.

Retailers have many cutting-edge technologies to attract customers, from fast checkouts to convenient self-service kiosks and more customized recommendations. Behind the scenes, a lot of work is also being done to simplify shopping: the 5G in the building, precise supply chains with connected robots, and training employees using virtual reality.

No matter where the innovation takes place, you can bet that it is provided by a lot of data from network edge devices. According to Gartner, the retail and wholesale segment will grow to include 440 million. DI points this year, compared to 360 million. 2019 and 290 million. 2018

It is not enough to simply generate more data using IoT endpoints.  We also need to analyze this in real time.

Above: It is not enough to simply generate more data using IoT endpoints. We also need to analyze this in real time.

As these endpoints increase, so does the amount of information they generate. But that’s a challenge: how do retailers keep up? After all, making real-time decisions about what to order, where to deploy inventory, and how to protect customers requires real-time analysis.


  • The data will help retailers operate more efficiently as shelves will be in stock and accurately reflect inventory in real time.
  • Retailers can use real-time analysis to not only provide a more convenient shopping experience, but also promote the health and safety of customers and employees.
  • The 5G’s high bandwidth and low latency capability will allow training in AR / VR using cloud traffic to cheaper devices than today’s HMD.
  • A permanent 5G connection to all devices will require building cellular solutions.

The intelligence of your business will increasingly come from 5G, which connects sensors and cameras optimized storage infrastructure. This, in turn, brings you closer to edge computing equipment data thirsty services this makes shopping more efficient and intimate. Let’s look at a few examples of how 5G is already affecting the retail end.

Improve your supply chain with more accurate inventory

The THL Group says too many retailers monitor inventory manually, resulting in inaccurate accounting of what is on the shelf. Although these companies believe that they are almost always in stock, customers only look 75% of the time. This discrepancy is costing the global retail industry more than 1.1 trillion. USD annually.

The combination of RFID tags, sensors and cameras can give retailers the analysis of the items they need to replenish shelves and place orders until stocks run out. The same systems also allow data to be collected about the routes customers take through the store, where they stop and what they choose.

Badger Technologies' stand-alone robot provides insights into inventory, plan compliance, and price integrity issues.  He also monitors the store for hazards.

Above: Badger Technologies’ stand-alone robot provides insights into inventory, plan compliance, and price integrity issues. He also monitors the store for hazards.

Add 5G to that set of options and open the door to the next level of response. Last year, AT&T and Badger Technologies have announced they are working together in a retail automation project using robots connected to 5G. The company’s robots use 5G and edge calculations to identify inappropriate, mislabeled, and misplaced items to pass analysis to a centralized dashboard.

“Collecting store data and sharing it with local and corporate retail systems can overshadow store Wi-Fi networks, which can affect store operations and customers’ shopping experiences,” said Tim Rowland, CEO of Badger Technologies. “Badger robots, as mobile data collection systems, can use 5G connectivity as they can collect, share and analyze more data in store and enterprise retail chains.”

These days, robots in the hallway even work overtime to keep customers safe. In addition to their stockholding responsibilities, Badger robots detect and report hazards so they can be cleared more quickly. Powered robotic floor cleaners San Diego-based Brain Corp BrainOS, armed with sensor kits and cellular capabilities, upload analytics data to the cloud as they work with clients.

Automating tasks such as cleaning and inventory management helps promote social isolation. It also allows employees to focus on deep cleaning and cleaning, jobs that have become much more difficult of late.

5G store purchase

How do retailers ensure that the robots they rent maintain 5G connectivity? After all, AT&T believes they will use cellular solutions. The robots will transmit the data to the same small cells responsible for routing the information to the mobile phones. Multiple access edge computing resources will prioritize data and process it on site to reduce latency. Meanwhile, low-priority traffic will be routed to the network operator’s backbone and to the cloud. Given the retailer’s concern for privacy and security, some of that data may also remain a presumption.

Verizon and Boingo Wireless last year announced a partnership 5G millimeter waves get into airports, stadiums and office buildings. More recently, Verizon said it spent more than 80 million. USD in Miami, FL surpasses Super Bowl LIV. Part of this investment went to a mobile network to improve the performance of the most popular hotels and supermarkets. In addition, a 5G connection was installed at Miami and Fort Lauderdale airports.

AT&T and T-Mobile have taken a different path to 5G coverage nationwide by building low-frequency networks by reusing the 4G spectrum. As a result, both companies are now said to reach more than 200 million people. For 5G coverage over “hundreds of square miles“With a single tower, the 850 MHz (AT&T) and 600 MHz (T-Mobile) bands are also better for receiving 5G signals indoors.

In contrast, millimeter wave frequencies, known for high velocity and low delay, are not good for many building materials. To close the gap, private cameras will help retailers ensure a reliable connection on the sales floor. Recently Verizon has completed lab tests using Corning’s 5G internal solution– a precursor to commercial affordability. “A private 5G network will give customers the potential to have a cloud in their facility,” said Adam Koeppe, Verizon’s chief technology officer, Development and Development. “This will accelerate automation and digitization efforts for businesses, and with Verizon’s mmWave bandwidth and reliability, it will offer scalability management for a huge number of devices along with advanced capabilities such as cutting-edge AI, PC vision and other new technologies. Verizon says the product in the building will go live in 2020. At the end.

All training, no risk

In-store operation of 5G is not limited to the technologies with which customers interact. It can also help train employees and prevent safety incidents. Companies in USA 2019 spent $ 83 billion on corporate training to train the skills required of employees to perform their roles. It is therefore unfortunate that passing teaching methods, such as sitting in a lecture or reading a manual, are much smaller than the participants. Augmented and virtual reality are potential solutions that allow employees to operate “hands on” in a safe environment, engaging them in a comprehensive experience and accelerating the learning process.

Back in 2017 Walmart saw an opportunity to train employees with a realistic environment in VR and installed Oculus Go headphones in 30 of its academies, giving executives a taste of Black Friday madness without relentless betting. The program was so successful that Walmart eventually sent the headphones to all his stores. With thousands of hands-free devices in the field, more than 1 million employees had access to a library of activity-based training modules STRIVR.

Walmart lightweight headphones use limited processing power. Tighter workout routines may require better graphics, better tracking, or less movement to the photon – the time from the action to the reflective screen before retailers release it. These complex workloads can be useful for split mapping, which involves the distribution of a task between local resources and the edge cloud. According to Ericsson, the high bandwidth, low latency, and reliability you need for this application can be delivered over a private 5G network or over a network portion on a public network.

Profit behind the store floor

It’s easy to worry about ways 5G will change the shopping experience. More relevant offers, faster billing, inclusion in channels– They all promise to increase efficiency and improve personalization. But there are also a lot of great 5G apps behind the scenes.

Accurate inventory helps retailers manage their inventory and prevent lost sales, while VR / AR training allows employees to behave at hand without the risk of costly mistakes or injuries.

The first involves entering data from IoT devices for quick analysis on local servers. The latter will need to require high-flow data traffic from the cloud with low delays for light customers. In both cases, 5G and edge computing facilitates new experiences that change the face of retail.

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