Blockchain technology is helping applications across numerous industries – everything from banking to construction. However, thanks to its inherent properties, it is uniquely suited for retail.
Today’s retailers face a wide variety of challenges, including cybersecurity breaches, data management issues, and counterfeit goods. Blockchain has the potential to address all of these concerns and improve outcomes for businesses.
Transparency, Quality And Traceability
Traditionally, retailers found it challenging to track and trace all of their products as they made their way through the supply chain. While barcodes and product packaging were part of the solution, they could never fully secure items during transit.
Blockchain changes this dynamic. Already companies are building systems that will create immutable ledgers of product condition and location data as they move through the supply chain. Combined with tamper-proof NFC tags, criminals will find it virtually impossible to commit fraud. As such, retailers can prove that the products in their possession are the genuine article, not counterfeits.
Currently, retailers have to rely on third-party sites to provide them with marketing analytics, telling them how well their campaigns are performing. However, with blockchain, they can achieve greater self-sufficiency. Blockchain can track metrics independently, preventing agencies from massaging figures to make ROI appear better than it is.
Improved Payment Security
As retailers transition to online stores, they are becoming more heavily reliant on conventional payment systems. Therefore, every time customers want to transact, they must enter their personal details into a payment portal, putting themselves at risk of fraud.
But now, thanks to blockchain, things are changing. Top retailers including Microsoft, Overstock, and Home Depot, are all now experimenting with accepting blockchain-based currencies, such as bitcoin. The goal goes beyond offering customers another payment method. Instead, it’s to make transactions more secure and reliable. For cryptocurrencies, the network itself is the source of security. They do not rely on any third-party gatekeepers who may have compromised security.
Rapid Vendor Dispute Resolution
Retailers frequently get into disputes with vendors, often concerning the loss of part or all of a delivery. Under a traditional supply chain setup, it is hard to know where items are and who is responsible for them going missing. However, with blockchain-enabled technology, vendor disputes become considerably easier to resolve. Since neither party can manipulate records, it becomes immediately clear precisely who or what is to blame in the event of a loss.
Better Predictive Maintenance
Today’s retailers are slowly becoming fleet operators. They need logistics services to both transport items to their depots and onto customers. As such, fleet management issues are becoming increasingly more important.
Maintenance is a major overhead and can significantly impact a retailer’s margins. However, blockchain may offer a solution. With it, companies can easily store and distribute information on their vehicles and equipment, averting breakdowns.
Administrative Task Automation
Lastly, blockchain has the power to automate administrative tasks in the retail sector. For instance, blockchain is the basic technology required for smart contracts. Managers can sign these to automate payments, reduce payroll administration, and record transactions.