Three Areas that Will Drive Retail’s Adoption of Blockchain in 2020
By Todd Endsley, Vice President of Technology
Blockchain was one of the most talked about buzzwords of the year, yet as 2019 comes to an end, the emerging technology is still in the early stages of adoption in the retail industry. Throughout 2019, retailers discussed the potential impact of blockchain on the retail industry - from cryptocurrency purchases and inventory management, to the ability to better track items throughout the supply chain. However, only in limited instances did the technology come to fruition in a real application.
Beyond the hype and sensational headlines, the potential benefits of blockchain, particularly in the retail space, are hard to ignore. In 2020, we can expect to see more retailers at least exploring ways to bring the technology onboard and leverage its power from front of house to distribution. There are three areas in particular that will drive blockchain’s adoption among retailers in 2020:
Sustainability continues to make a big impact on consumer purchasing habits. As consumers buy less, rent more, and are overall more conscientious of brand sustainability practices, they are looking to align with brands who place their ethics and values first.
Blockchain offers retailers the ability to better track the origin of stock, gives them better control over what they sell, and provides assurances for sustainable materials, among other applications. Blockchain will be useful for controlling supply chains as changes to data such as manufacturing dates and locations can be tracked, ultimately eradicating the use of unreliable suppliers and poor-quality materials.
2. Faster Delivery
At the end of the day, it’s all about retailers keeping up with Amazon, which in large part comes down to speed of delivery. Smooth logistics and speedy delivery are two key benefits blockchain brings to retailers. A lack of communication, administrative management, and proper tracking all present challenges that get in the way of fast deliveries. However, by leveraging blockchain – a single ledger of undisputable data and history – retailers can make transportation and logistics more efficient, streamlined, and reliable.
3. Secure, Simple Payments
Countries like the United States are becoming more privacy centric. More data privacy regulations are inevitable and brands need to future-proof themselves. Blockchain can help retailers with this changing privacy landscape. With a blockchain data-sharing system in place, customers could also proactively let retailers know about their needs and privacy preferences. With the help of an artificial intelligence-powered recommendation system, retailers would be able to identify customers’ needs and market to them accordingly.
If utilizing cryptocurrencies, all of these transactions are recorded on a blockchain network and rely on user verification of the transaction to be fully authenticated. As more consumers use a variety of digital payment methods - like cryptocurrencies - retailers will have to find a way to adapt.
Whether it’s accepting digital payments, improving supply chain visibility, or streamlining logistics, predictions are that blockchain has a bright future in the retail industry. More retailers will begin to rely on blockchain for increased efficiency and data management as we move into the new year and these key areas for application are realized.