A Host of Business Opportunities in Retail with Blockchain

Asia Blockchain Review
April 5, 2019

The future is bright for retailers who adapt to the blockchain. With the right assortments of products and/or services curated for consumers, retailers who evolve with the technology can win big.

The retail industry is transforming faster than ever. Technology and data drive major retail decisions and it’s all about how well retailers adapt to the upcoming trends to explore ways to leverage their sales performance. More than ever, blockchain is taking the lead based on its unique features. It creates a shared system of record among permitted network members who must have access rights.

All the data is stored in a decentralized platform which holds an immutable ledger that helps to hugely reduce information leaking risks. On top of the security advantage, blockchain extensively improves the daily operation in areas like information transparency, record traceability, product authenticity etc.

That is to say, there are multiple challenges faced currently by the retail sector. First and the most commonly known is inventory control. With the increased complexity in SKU (Stock Keeping Unit), many retailers have failed to fully utilize it to manage their stock control but to stack up on stock waiting for sale or run short on the stock available.

On the other hand, since retail involves numerous stakeholders, without the IoT (Internet of Things) sensors to generate and record date at every step of the retail supply chain process, theft is customarily a common issue. According to the FBI, cargo thefts cause a loss of around US$30 billion per year. Besides, as consumers are getting more aware of the product authenticity, any vague information, or worse, pirated products will definitely destroy branding and break the trust with them.

One thing intriguing about retail is the trend, even e-commerce is highly popular nowadays, it’s predicted that brick-and-mortar stores will continue to flourish in 2019. With vast volumes of consumer spending still occurring in the stores, businesses must come up with strategies to study campaign analytics and data-based behaviors in order to target shoppers. Blockchain, in this respect, can be employed to enable consumers to make smarter, and safer purchasing decisions.

Actually, the decentralized electronic database can help retailers establish partnerships with certification agencies to address issues like product recall status or product originality, say, the validation of organic labels. This can also be justly verified by provenance tracking as the blockchain allows consumers to trace the journey of a product from manufacturers to the stores, successfully bringing trust in the system.

Whenever blockchain is mentioned, smart contracts and cryptocurrencies come to mind. In the era when influencers make an impact in retail and consumers go cashless, smart contracts can be handy when making payments. This can cut down the cost of making the “actual” contracts for marketing promotional purposes while at the same time cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin can function as a payment channel, for the fact that more companies are going to issue their own cryptocurrency as a payment method. It does provide all parties with more choice as a remittance or merely another form of purchase payment, with the possibility to have the transaction processed in real-time. What’s appealing is that this channel usually charges low or has no fees which is good news for retailers who handle multi-currency transactions.

The blockchain can readily establish the new form of trust in the retail sector, reinvent the interactions between consumers and businesses, reform the entire retail supply chain system and the overall shopping experience. The signs of promise are assuring and more opportunities are expected to further prosper the industry.  

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