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Why Walmart Is Looking to Bring 5G Capability to Stores

By Jennifer Saibil - Mar 2, 2020 at 8:53AM

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The retail giant is in talks with Verizon to test cutting-edge communications in two locations.

Walmart's (WMT 0.86%) war with includes a superstore strategy that provides a complete lifestyle experience for consumers. As part of that effort, it's looking at next-generation 5G connectivity to upgrade its services and bring its customer focus to a new level.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Walmart is working with Verizon Communications (VZ 1.75%) to supply new 5G-enabled equipment to two test sites. The main purpose of the trial is to pump up the retailer's health services, but it's also meant to give greater power to the overall connectivity in the stores for both consumers and operations.

Walmart pharmacy truck.

Image source: Walmart.

Everything except housing?

This plan is part of Walmart's greater efforts to turn its superstores into communities for customers, covering everything from grocery shopping and clothing purchases to many different types of health services, including doctors' appointments and prescription pickups.

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon says he sees the 5G technology as enabling the back end of the platform, with faster connections and a digitally enhanced experience. While the company is making strides in e-commerce, with a 37% increase for fiscal year 2019, it has the upper hand when it comes to storefronts. Digital technology is a means to bring it all together and provide an unmatched physical experience.

Walmart's next big thing

There are Walmarts all over the U.S., but healthcare is not always available to those who need it. McMillon sees tremendous opportunity here, to benefit both Walmart customers as well as the company's top line. 

The 5G network can allow the Walmart system to identify app users as they come into the store and track their medical needs and prescription uses. It can also allow doctors to interact remotely with patients in real time, and detect the products the customer purchased in an effort to update its inventory. 

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