Walmart and Verizon are exploring ways to future proof today’s retail

Walmart wants to be the ultimate go-to-store for groceries, clothes, toys and now, healthcare services. “Health care looks like a big opportunity,” Walmart's CEO said.
5 March 2020

Walmart’s CEO Doug McMillon. Source: AFP

Walmart and Verizon Communications are exploring ways to equipped the retail giant’s stores with antenna and other equipment needed to access 5G networks. 

The two companies are planning to bring the next-generation network to kick start Walmart’s new digital health services that’s offered to employees and shoppers. The plan is also set to provide better and wider connections for other outlets and the surrounding community, as reported in The Wall Street Journal.

If a partnership is formed, this would mean a leap forward for the retail giant in its efforts to offer healthcare services across 4,700 stores in the US. 

Walmart chief Doug McMillon told investors, “Healthcare looks like a big opportunity,” adding that the company plans to offer services “in communities where healthcare is lacking and out of reach for many.”

Clearly, the retail giant is keen on tapping into the healthcare market and, together with 5G capabilities, will take its healthcare services to the next level. So securing a partnership with one of the leading telecommunications and 5G providers is a significant move. 

Verizon, one of the Big Three wireless carriers in the States, fits the profile. Its 5G network is currently available in major cities like New York and Washington D.C. 

The telecom company has also inked 5G partnerships with NFL (The National Football League). Just last month, fans were treated with the first-ever large scale 5G-powered sports event — the Super Bowl.

Verizon spent US$80 million to equip the stadium and areas around Miami with 5G network. 

Since 5G signals have a limited range, small cell infrastructure needs to be deployed in masses to ensure users can access the light-speed network. 

Bearing that in mind, if a deal is signed between the two companies, shoppers will experience a future-forward digital healthcare service — including self-registration via medical records stored in an app and teleconferencing doctors and medical professionals. 

From the store’s end, heightened connectivity will power existing systems and enhance its operations. For example, sensors on shelves could detect if particular medical supplies need restocking and data generated from can turn into valuable insights for logistics.

In line with this potential partnership, Walmart will have much to gain as it carries forward plans to equip 3,500 giant stores with edge computing. Adding 5G into the mix will bolster the company’s data processing and edge computing power.

While the applications of 5G are still rolling out in stages, it is reasonable to predict that wireless technology will increasingly play a more significant role in the retail space. 

Such as Amazon’s recent launch of a full-scale, cashier-less supermarket in Seattle, after its acquisition of Whole Foods. This expansion and move to garner grocery footprint go head-on with Walmart’s core business.