2018/02/16

Promising Benefits of Decentralized Technologies for the Retail Industry

Social changes are typically market-driven and technology driven. We have witnessed new technologies overtaking markets, and likewise, markets creating the need for a new technology. With the pace it's creating a change, blockchain development deserves a ‘hats-off’. It is affecting the retail market in unconventional ways for all of us. Many changes to traditional processes have already happened, and much more is yet to happen. Blockchain is shifting world finances and starts affecting other industries where blockchain developers implement the technology to improve products and services before they reach the end users.

Retail is not only part of the change, but it’s one of the most exciting areas of blockchain development. How come the technology that took off with a new currency spread its impact to finer shopping?   

Current Face of the Retail Industry

Even when we don’t like to get all things at cheaper retailers, we love getting them as soon as possible. In the race of sustaining an optimal role as consumers, we demand and press for better products. But what exactly is a ‘better’ product or service? Does it always come with the tags ‘cheaper’, ‘reliable’ and ‘high-quality’? The definition is a complex web of personal, social and economic factors. We tokenize a variety of values using preferences that not always have to do with money and then decide upon the personal value. Retailers target our needs, injecting additional value with loyalty coupons, special discounts, credit bonuses, gift vouchers, exclusive memberships, priority shipments.

Solving Digital Trust Challenges

It’s not all about the price. A loyal and trusted consumer-retailer relationship has special worth that goes beyond a one-off exchange. In a digital market with strong competition, retailers cope with margins to remain profitable and attractive. This challenge is additionally hampered with creating trust in the multiple offerings.

With the possibility to promise and deliver trust in products and transactions, blockchain development solves the challenge with decentralization. The concept of a World Wide Ledger is at the core of a public and permissionless blockchain. Blockchain applications that can help retailers require some sort of permission or a closed circle of trust. By removing the intermediaries and building a network of participants by invitation, permissioned distributed ledgers are changing the face of the retail industry. Potential benefits include cost reduction, faster processing of transactions, and product originality.

Streamlining, Automation and Cost-Reduction

Data in shared immutable ledgers is easier to manage. Processes can be automated and streamlined, removing the need for back-office work. The retail infrastructure is simplified, in turn improving record-keeping and inventory management. Fraud is minimized, auditing and reporting are made easy, and compliance is straightforward.

All these potential blockchain benefits can help retailers shape competitive product prices, getting access to a borderless global consumer market, and without the need to pay fees to banks, payment processors and online marketplaces. To create better security of the retail chain, businesses adopting blockchain development are basing their trust in the strong built-in encryption of the technology.

From Payments to Ownership and Budgeting

Bitcoin payments are an exemplary blockchain application in retail. Although the coin is not widely accepted, you can already buy a pizza, book a flight and open an e-commerce store. The Russian Burger King chain is accepting bitcoins. Tracking payments is easier. Large purchases won’t need additional verification with official authorities since the ledger record can be shared and used as the single source of truth. The proof of ownership is irrefutable. Retail can go paperless, as the digital receipts issued by shops can be used for refunds and for tracking personal shopping and spending habits.    

Shared Logistics Systems from Manufacturers to Retailers

Traceability of the products in the supply chain enables immediate insight into the origin of the product, ensuring that what you are getting is an original. It will be difficult to sell something inauthentic since the buyer, the seller and any third parties have agreed on all previous transactions and records, limiting the possibility of an untrusted partner to impair the network trust. Counterfeited goods and stolen merchandise can’t get through the replicated unified records. E-warranties are made possible with cloud-based blockchain solutions, removing the need for paper warranties.

Blockchain development has a potential to reshape logistics. Shipments can be tracked at every stage. You can check if your product will be delivered to you in real-time from around the world, without the need to send numerous emails or make phone calls. Since all evidence is kept safe and unchangeable in one distributed ledger, it is easier to locate lost products or check actions that affected the product quality. In turn, the possibility for disputes is smaller.

Intelligent IoT Shops

In view of supermarkets, blockchain development can drastically change how we do our daily shopping for supplies. Intelligent supermarket shops, equipped with IoT sensors and connected to a decentralized database can enable detailed product scrutiny. It might be possible to use the smartphone and check everything about the product with simple code scanning. From supermarkets, the technology can easily be transferred to other branches of the retail industry.

The challenges of market volatility and lack of existing ecosystems for creating trusted partner networks are two problems that blockchain developers are trying to solve. As major obstacles for retailers, they affect adoption. Early adopters will get the chance not only to accrue potential benefits from being the first, but also create new retail ecosystems and influence regulatory authorities in how they shape decentralized shopping on the web.
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