Blockchain technology is well-known for making its way into the financial sector as the technology behind Bitcoin. Its benefits for business-to-business transactions are clear, but what about applications that benefit business-to-consumer transactions? Blockchain is making its way to the retail industry as applications are continually being investigated to increase transparency, reduce counterfeiting, make shipping easier, provide solutions for warranties, and more.
Cryptocurrency success will rely on retail
The most obvious way in which Blockchain is infiltrating retail is through the advent of cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrencies seek to place responsibility for transactions in the hands of those making them by eliminating middlemen. This reduces transaction costs and puts control in the hands of the currency-holder. The increased use of cryptocurrencies will, however, depend on the willingness of retailers to accept them; consumers will not buy cryptocurrencies if retailers do not accept them as payment /1/.
Retailers reap benefit from accepting cryptocurrencies by reducing costs of transactions and gaining control over their transactions, which is especially important for companies conducting business internationally, where payment processes can become very expensive.
Blockchain to safeguard retailers from counterfeits
Another area where Blockchain applications are cropping up in retail is in preventing counterfeit goods from entering markets (there are already solutions in the making using the combination of Blockchain and RFID). Using Blockchain, products can be tracked from manufacturer to consumer /2/. This creates a verifiable and transparent record of a product’s whereabouts, which can then be used by consumers and retailers alike to verify the authenticity of a product.
Further solutions being explored and implemented
Blockchain can help solve further problems in retail including improving the transferability of warranties and making shipping processes easier. Smart Contracts can be implemented when warranties are issued to keep them up to date and make transferability easy through automation /3/. Solutions are already being explored in shipping, especially in the area of insurance, to ensure the traceability of goods that make their way to retailers and consumers. An additional area of exploration is in digital advertising to ensure traceability when ads are being placed automatically on websites by robots /2/.
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