Give Me Five: How 5G Technology Will Revolutionize Fashion and Retail

August 6, 2023

Image credit: Dell

5G technology is set to revolutionize the fashion and retail industries. According to McKinsey’s State of Fashion 2022 report, by 2030, more than 80% of the world’s population will gain access to 5G networks. Thanks to groundbreaking high speed and low latency, 5G will enable new and innovative applications that will profoundly change how we shop.

In our already-connected world, many consumers and businesses have been waiting for improved connectivity to turn their dreams into everyday reality. Now that 5G infrastructure is expanding, innovative ideas that have lacked the necessary technical support will transform how we think of shopping, design, and manufacturing. 

Here are a few examples of how 5G will be used or is already being used in fashion and retail:

Try, and You Shall Succeed: Virtual Try-on

AR-focused tech leader Snap recently announced its plan to place connected mirrors that allow shoppers to see how clothes would fit without physically trying anything on. This move aims to capitalize on the massive potential in the field, with data showing that more than 60% of shoppers would gravitate toward stores that offer AR experiences. This specific application is much more than a gimmick, as it saves time and increases sales for businesses, demonstrating the effective and lucrative potential of AR. 

Virtual try-on technology will also become available using VR tools that allow shoppers to virtually try on clothes without leaving their homes. The AR app Zeekit, which was acquired by Walmart, creates virtual fitting rooms that offer precisely that. This technology can be a huge time-saver for busy shoppers and a way for shops to save storage space, minimize returns, and manufacture items on demand without hesitation.

Chain Reaction: Supply Chain Management

By boosting speed and connectivity rates, 5G technology enables automation and data gathering at a higher level. For businesses, this opens the door to supply chain tracking and management capabilities that seemed out of reach not too long ago. 

This is an opportunity to solve one of the biggest problems in retail, as almost 70% of companies report a lack of supply chain visibility. The same percentage also believes improving their supply chain management capabilities will boost customer satisfaction rates and profitability. 

Tracking items throughout their entire journey will expose any cause for delay, allowing brands to reevaluate their business partners and form a smooth process. It will also make the process more transparent to outsiders, inviting shoppers to buy from brands collaborating with conscious vendors across the supply chain. This is a solid example of how technology supports and enhances brand values. There are already specific services specializing in supply-chain tracking and can expect this corner of our industry to grow.

More Demand for On-Demand 

On-demand has been on the rise for a few years now, but 5G connectivity will change this corner of retail and fashion, taking things even further. One example is online and mobile personalization and independent design capabilities. 

As we give customers better tools for designing and tailoring the items they purchase, they will grow to expect these items at their front step faster than ever. On-demand and next-day delivery will become even more significant must-haves for retailers. Both the overall market demand and the challenging requirements will grow, leaving very little room for businesses that didn’t embrace digital manufacturing technologies on time. 

Big Data Gets Even Bigger 

Retailers have been using big data to learn more about customers’ preferences for a few years now. Zara, for instance, is known for building a data hub for customers based on smart barcodes (RFID tags), surveys, online activity, and more. 

Still, connectivity issues prevented businesses from gathering more relevant information and utilizing it in real time. As 5G becomes the norm, they will be able to act immediately, offering relevant recommendations and benefits based on location, recent purchases, and social media activity. On a higher level, these new data capabilities will allow brands to predict trends, identify customer success pitfalls, and more. 

These are just a few examples of how 5G is used in fashion and retail. As 5G technology continues to develop, we can expect to see even more innovative applications in these industries, and we simply cannot wait!