Blockchain and the Retail Industry: What the Future Holds
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Blockchain is as old as Bitcoin, but the ledger is aging more elegantly than the cryptocurrency. Over 10 years since “Bitcoin: A Peer to Peer Electronic Cash System” was released, the trailblazing cryptocoin still functions more like an investment vehicle, while blockchain is now its own industry, reports Fortunly.
It is hard to tell whether Satoshi Nakatomo realized the practicality of a digital decentralized ledger in industries outside the world of financial services. But merchants and technologists are working to apply the tech to influence the retail industry.
Admittedly, blockchain is not advancing as fast as desired because of several unresolved issues, particularly in the scalability department. The shortage of blockchain experts across the globe is another problem that can’t be remedied overnight.
Nevertheless, the technology has a rosy growth projection in the near future. The consensus is that the percentage of the worldwide economic output that is kept on blockchain databases will rise steadily and might collectively save adopters $550 billion every year.
So, what will the retail industry be like once blockchain technology reaches its zenith?
Let’s imagine what the future might hold.
Provenance transparency can be the standard
The beauty of having a decentralized list of records is that everything can be open for everyone to see. In the context of retail, a blockchain database can be used to show consumers how a product is made and/or where its materials or ingredients come from. It can offer a peek at a merchant’s supply chain, which can help build brand trust.
We now live in an age when people are more conscious about the goods they buy and more curious about the story behind an item on the market. The transparent nature of blockchain technology can help anyone trace a product’s provenance.
Deep knowledge of an item’s origin or source material can be an influential factor in a consumer’s decision-making process. Considering the variety of health, environmental, and ethical dilemmas that many people contend with every day, the tech can shape a consumer’s perspective and help make informed decisions.
Dispute resolution can be community-based
Blockchain can create more vibrant online environments than what we have today. Like in other marketplace functions, decentralizing dispute resolution could benefit all parties.
In a platform powered by blockchain, the entire community could work together to solve each other’s problems. A clever reward system could inspire members of a peer-to-peer network to be more participatory and creative.
Incentivized marketplace characters might not hire paid customer-care representatives. They could, however, offer fresh avenues to iron out concerns without relying on a central authority.
Loyalty programs can be more rewarding
Blockchain could be the key to loyalty program success. The tech makes a transparent mechanism retailers can use to encourage consumers to earn rewards, consolidate points gained from different brands, and redeem them within loyalty networks.
Furthermore, blockchain is essentially proof against fraud. It can render verification a less cumbersome process, helping to prevent coupons from ending up in the wrong hands.
Marketers can improve interaction with customers
Having the ability to chronologically track the online movement of consumers can make marketing a much less painful job. Blockchain can make the interaction between target customers and promotional ads more simple to analyze and measure.
Crypto-based payments can be ubiquitous
Despite the price volatility of Bitcoin and popular altcoins, many major e-commerce platforms and retailers have started accepting cryptocurrencies as payment options. The proliferation of Bitcoin ATMs is also encouraging more individuals to buy the digital coin using fiat currencies, letting the funds increase in value passively, and buying stuff with them.
Moreover, Facebook’s Libra, a much-anticipated blockchain-driven payment network, could be a catalyst for global-crypto adoption.
Thanks to the pervasive ownership of smartphones of over a billion unbanked adults in the world, the digital divide should vanish sooner rather than later. This phenomenon means almost all consumers on the planet will be able to open e-wallets and store cryptocurrencies.
If the prophecy that electronic money will promote widespread financial inclusion is fulfilled, unbanked consumers could bring $600 billion more to the global economy every year. Retailers would arguably be the top beneficiaries of more mobile and crypto-based remittances.
Retail, not financial services, is the optimum industry for blockchain incubation. Although the tech needs time and capital to further mature, e-commerce platforms are in a unique position to unlock its full potential and reap its lucrative advantages.