Is Blockchain the future of Retail?
Blockchain is turning out to be the biggest technology revolution of the decade. This article digs deeper into the concept of Blockchain and explains why it is a game-changer for the retail industry.
Blockchain and Bitcoin have been the biggest buzzwords in the market lately. There have been massive investments in Bitcoins at a breathtaking pace worldwide. It is today one of the most popular and widely explored financial instruments, with a global market value worth $8,409 as of April, 2018. However, despite the huge worldwide spending on Blockchains and Bitcoins, many of us still have our doubts and questions.
This article tries to simplify the whole concept of Blockchain and brings out its use cases beyond money transfer, especially in the retail industry.
What is this Blockchain? Blockchain is the technology behind Bitcoin. In simple words, Blockchain is a ledger or record of digital transactions; each record known as a “Block”. It is a distributed database that maintains a continuously growing list of data records, known as a “Chain”.
So, who can use Blockchain? Blockchain is an open source network of computers connected to carry out digital transactions using virtual currency like Bitcoins; so practically anybody with an internet connection can use Blockchain.
And how does it work? Let’s assume A wants to send some money to B digitally. He communicates the intention through to a peer-to-peer network using a Public Key. He adds money to a digital wallet (say Bitcoin) and allows the money to be sent using an encrypted (protected) digital signature. Once this information is received by the computers in the connected network, they verify and validate the transaction. Once approved, the money is moved to B.
But why all the hype? Blockchain is a revolutionary technology that is reshaping the world of finance. One of the prime reasons for its popularity is the fact that it is an open source technology that brings transparency to financial transactions. It reduces the possibility of fraud to a great extent. Also, it is a convenient and faster mode of carrying out transactions, compared to regular banking, which has its own limitations.
Is there more to it than money transfer? Absolutely! The Blockchain technology runs the world of cryptocurrency. But, it has several other uses beyond digital currency transfer. Some of the key industries, including banking, insurance, supply chain management, healthcare and retail are using Blockchain extensively for varied purposes.
How is Blockchain impacting Retail?
Blockchain is significantly changing the face of Retail. The retail industry is getting digitized every day with technology seeping into all its critical aspects. Here are 4 ways in which Blockchain is hugely influencing the retail industry.
Since consumers today do not settle for less, Blockchain helps retailers establish authenticity of their products in the market. The Chain system allows retailers to track down the product right from the point it was manufactured. It gives a clear picture of what materials were used, what steps went into producing a product and what measures were taken in the packaging too. Especially in an e-commerce set up, where consumers make a purchase only after a thorough research of a product, Blockchain ensures retailers offer only quality products to their customers.
Whether it is a bulk order or single product, Blockchain is widely being used to track product shipment. Every logistical stage of a product's journey including the information on who handled it, where and when in real time it is being transported can be visualized. It also results in reduced loss and damage of goods. Consumers too can track the movement of products they ordered online through mobile applications.
As mentioned before in this article, Blockchain enables easy, secure and fast payments. Retailers are using Blockchain to accept Bitcoin or Cryptocurrency payments, allowing them to carry out international transactions effectively. They are also widely using Blockchain to procure goods from overseas and make hassle-free, easy payments to global vendors.
Proof of Ownership
One of the biggest advantages of using Blockchain in retail is the fact that it establishes a proof of ownership, reducing the possibility of theft and misplacing of retail products. By tracking product information from the source of manufacture, till the point it reaches the end user, Blockchain allows retailers to ensure that the product reaches the rightful consumer through a proper channel of delivery, leading to improved customer satisfaction and branding.
The Blockchain market is growing at an alarming rate, and is expected to soar to $20 billion by 2025. It is one of the most disruptive technologies of the decade, and is here to stay for many more decades to come. How long until you embrace Blockchain to drive your business and achieve significant tangible benefits?