The retail customer journey experience in an omnichannel age.


Massive, ongoing changes are disrupting the retail industry.

The top three complications in creating a frictionless journey.

There are many ways to reach and engage individuals.

Encouraging a digital payments ecosystem.

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By Ryan Taylor, Retail Industry Expert

The retail customer journey has changed radically. Consumers’ rapid-access to oceans of product information, the complete saturation of web content into day-to-day life, and the beginnings of Web3 (a decentralized vision of the web which includes things like blockchain, AR/VR, etc.) have all contributed to a shopping environment where omnichannel engagement is king in advancing the retail customer experience. Indeed, ‘experience’ is now the key concept: storefronts are called on to personalize their offerings to a greater degree than ever before while aiming for wireless, seamless, frictionless shopping experiences.


  • The ‘Customer Journey’ is now best conceptualized as an in-store experience that integrates consumer data insights with modern technologies to create an encompassing, omnichannel experience.

  • Storefronts need to be able to mimic the advantages of algorithmic-based, online shopping to continue to be relevant and competitive as eCommerce continues to grow and become normative.

  • Most of the variety of technologies that can be used to create more frictionless, integrated, and personalized shopping experiences can benefit greatly from faster wireless solutions.

Everywhere we look, we see massive, ongoing changes that are disrupting the retail industry. These changes live and grow in customer experience (CX). We see them in self-checkout, in-app orders, and throughout storefront operations.

Every carefully placed display, personalized ad, and customized product recommendation is a result of studying customer habits and behavior.

Stores no longer exist as just places to shop for groceries, shampoo, or a last-minute birthday card. Instead, they’ve morphed into all-immersive customer experiences. Feeling restless? Stop by a Target and stroll through the holiday section. You’ll feel better in no time.

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Need a mood boost? Whole Foods is sure to deliver with its fresh juice and kombucha bar. Plus, you can pick up your Amazon packages while you’re there.

This immersive experience is forever changing and evolving to better match customer needs. It’s a complicated process, but an increasingly promising one.


What if retailers could confidently predict customer behavior patterns? What if instead of guessing, they used carefully collected data to inform store changes and new developments?

Furthermore, what if all of these changes maximized the shopper experience, increased their satisfaction with the store, and boosted sales?

These ideas sound idyllic, but they’re real and in the process of transforming retail as we know it.

Evolving technologies in the Internet of Things (IoT) allow retailers to create a seamless shopping experience across the digital to the physical world.

Through 5G and the varying technologies they enable to facilitate true data-driven personalization, customers feel valued, listened to, and like their shopping experience is personally tailored to them.


While creating an omnichannel experience is becoming a retail necessity, it can prove to be a complicated process.

Retailers express the complexity of customer interfaces, complexity of enterprise interfaces, and making data accessible (or “data silos”) as the top three challenges in implementing a frictionless customer journey, according to the IDC.

Yet, retailers know that customer engagement happens anytime, anywhere, and creating a seamless system will prove essential to building customer trust, loyalty, and growth in sales.

So, what are these retail immersion strategies and how do they work?


Retailers use customer data personalization to reach and engage customers throughout the entire shopping journey. This personalization shows up in a few ways:

Content optimization
All content related to the brand is shared in a way that will reach the largest possible customer base. Content optimization covers everything from highlighting keywords that will resonate with an audience, specific in-app messaging, and SEO practices to rank better online.

Personalized offers and product recommendations
If you have an app on your phone for your favorite store, chances are you receive coupons based on your recent browsing or purchases, or the app may notify you when an item you browsed goes on sale.

All of these incentives speak to your unique shopping preferences and ultimately build your loyalty to the brand.

Heat mapping
Heat mapping allows retailers to see where customers’ strongest interests gravitate. It’s considered one of the most effective tools for understanding how customers utilize space and what that means for their purchasing habits.

It allows retailers to accurately predict customer behavior patterns: where do they linger in the store? What areas do they underutilize? Which spots are overly congested? Which displays attracted the most customers? Which were ignored?

Heat mapping–which can be facilitated via large, reliable 5G networks–recording shoppers’ physical movements and create color-coded visualizations of that data which anyone can quickly grasp.

Retailers analyze traffic data from phone locations to see how customers interact with the store and their surroundings, eventually resulting in a much more robust marketing strategy that can optimize store layouts in a way that wasn’t previously possible, allowing brands to shift away from traditional ‘gut-feeling’ strategic planning toward data-driven precision.

5G and AR/VR technologies
With the internet and 5G on our phones, retailers can create an integrated customer experience not only in-store, but also online, offline, and everywhere in between. Combined with 5G, shopping becomes a virtual, all-encompassing experience.

We see these integrations in a few ways.

Virtual assistants
5G allows virtual assistants and robots to have human-like conversations with customers. They answer questions about products and services in seconds, provide product recommendations according to what the customer browsed, purchased, or liked, and even offer appropriate in-store discounts if the customer is nearby.

Chatbots help customers make purchases online or in-store by providing information on products and services. They tend to be especially helpful with return and exchange policies, warranties, or other relevant policies post-purchase.

Self-checkout kiosks let customers check themselves out without waiting in line or talking to a cashier. It’s a quick and generally seamless process.

Kiosks can also print coupons for customers after checking out. If the customers had a good experience, they’ll ideally come back to redeem their savings!

Virtual mirrors
Virtual mirrors are another form of 5G advanced technology making shopping easier for customers. Instead of trying on clothes in a dressing room, shoppers skip that step by viewing them virtually and “trying before buying” them. This method uses computer vision, face detection, and tracking technologies.

Trying on clothes and accessories has become possible virtually, in other words, providing in-store convenience to digital shopping.


Combining customer data personalization and 5G will continue to allow retailers to create truly immersive and unique shopping both in and out of stores. As customers become used to these integrations, they will expect nothing less in all of their shopping experiences.

Virtual assistants, chatbots, self-checkout kiosks, and virtual mirrors all allow customers to interact with the brand from anywhere.

Shoppers can also expect to see an emphasis on digital payment ecosystems like in-app payments, using QR codes, and adopting other frictionless payment methods to maximize time, convenience, and ease of the shopping experience.

Ready to move your business to 5G and make retail a fully immersive experience? Ask T-Mobile for Business about in-store heat mappingAR/VR guest entertainment, and other technologies that help to facilitate the ‘smart stores’ the demands of the future so insist upon.

T-Mobile has America’s largest, fastest, and most reliable 5G network, imagined for tomorrow but ready to give you an edge today. At T-Mobile for Business, we’re focused on providing retail businesses with the connectivity solutions and dedicated, exceptional service you need to keep you reliably connected in-store or on the move. Visit T-Mobile for Business - Retail to find out more about how we can take care of your business. Or to explore more about how 5G is transforming the world of Retail, check out the The Era of 5G in Retail. To talk with an industry specialist, give us a call at 1-833-977-4488.

About the author:

Ryan Taylor is a professor of retail with over three decades of study under his belt. Formerly Senior Director of Nike Stores North America, his expertise improved team performance and, in turn, improved the customer experience. A ‘big picture’ person, Ryan’s experience allowed him to enhance retail operations at more than 250 stores across the country via coordinated plans that incorporated sales, marketing, brand loyalty, customer service, and team training. He is one of RETHINK Retail’s Top 100 Influencers of 2023, a recognized Industry Thought Leader, and a Retail Technology Innovation Strategist.

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