While blockchain may have initially started out as the technology behind cryptocurrency, numerous innovators have quickly found other applications for it. Besides other non-financial applications like cloud storage, contracts, and smart cities, blockchain is viewed as an ideal solution for disrupting the retail landscape. While the changes may not be able to be implemented overnight in retail and will require mass adoption, the current ways blockchain is being incorporated can go a long way to transforming the shopping experience.

Re-imagining Retail Data Collection and Analysis

Data improves the shopping experience for customers. Blockchain delivers an efficient way to collect and analyze the available information. Working with artificial intelligence and blockchain, OSA DC is a decentralized platform that gathers and assesses data in real-time from sources like consumers and retailers.

What has happened is that so much data is now available from so many locations that it is fragmented. This fragmentation makes it challenging to sift through and find the type of patterns that can direct how a retailer changes their customer experience to respond to specific needs and expectations described within the data. These become missed opportunities for retailers. However, a blockchain platform collects data from across the supply chain. Then, it uses machine learning to add structure to the information.

However, creating a single ecosystem for the data accomplishes even more for the retail environment. Blockchain can enhance the inventory tracking process, including reducing overstocking and understocking. Since blockchain uses a highly secure ledger format, the product data is more reliable and secure from tampering. Finally, blockchain’s ability to gather accurate information can reduce supply chain product waste.

Providing a Marketplace of Materials, Resources, Components and More

Retail product companies have often struggled to get the best pricing on components, materials, and parts as well as connect directly with manufacturers that will deliver quality every time. This process involved a centralized system with middlemen. This meant higher pricing, limited access to manufacturers, a slower, often error-riddled process.

That’s where a blockchain company like Hamster Marketplace can change the retail game. Its decentralized platform is a marketplace for unique electronics and connects retail companies directly with device manufacturers. Vendors that join the manufacturing platform are verified to ensure they can provide the best quality, pricing, and terms for the retailers seeking to connect with them. This is especially ideal for retailers seeking small batch productions of their products.

Blockchain ensures data is connected to each partnership and oversees the ordering and delivery system. Additionally, it can even handle an arbitration system for the marketplace to resolve any issues between the retailer and manufacturer.

Serving as a Supply Chain Ledger

Beyond the marketplace relationships that can develop and thrive because of the blockchain, it’s the entire supply chain that often inhibits a retailer from providing the best possible shopping experience for its customers. While all segments of retail can benefit, it can make a world of difference to the grocery segment that involves perishable products and volatile demand.

As one article from INS explained, “With local producers struggling to get onto the shelves and major retailers dominating the market, the global supply chain stays inherently unbalanced in terms of bargaining power abuse. As mega-chains aim to reduce stock-outs and have their shelves full at all times, the situation results in significant inefficiencies such as increased food miles, scams, and waste.”

Blockchain ensures supply chain and logistics data remains authentic and secure. This includes overseeing every record and form in the supply chain. That means no tampering. Plus, there is a time-stamped record of every step in the supply chain. Everything is independently verified. The result is greater control over product manufacturing location, process, and timing. Additionally, a blockchain supply chain model also allows a retailer to dictate transportation, storage, delivery, and presentation.

Examples of blockchain inventory and supply chain management systems include those developed and launched by IBM, Microsoft, and Mojix. These retail-oriented blockchain platforms are set to transform how retailers can align their inventory with end-user demand for an enhanced shopping experience. WAVE is another example of a blockchain company that offers a decentralized database that leverages blockchain to document every action in a supply chain.

Validating Product Authenticity and Building Trust

Counterfeit goods continue to plague global retailers and consumers who seek to enjoy luxury brands. Knockoff goods are often available at the local swap meet. However, finding them on legitimate online retail sites may be surprising. Fake goods are a significant global issue. One source quantified the problem: “Imports of counterfeit and pirated goods are worth nearly half a trillion dollars a year, or around 2.5% of global imports, according to the OECD and the EU’s Intellectual Property Office. Up to 5% of goods imported into the European Union are fakes.”

That’s where blockchain can shut down the chances of receiving fake merchandise. The technology tracks and verifies a product’s entire lifecycle. That means there is no way that a fraudulent distributor can get their fake items past a retailer that uses a blockchain platform for its merchandise.

Along with this authenticity comes transparency that helps consumers know more about what they are buying.  Consumers get access to data collected during the verification process. That includes the where, how, and when about the product. Also, it could provide insights into the materials used.  That additional information helps engage the consumer as well as establish trust between them and your retail brand.

Provenance helps show where their food was grown, including whether it was local. Also, the data provided verifies ingredients for consumers who are concerned about allergies. The blockchain platform helps a consumer avoid specific products.

A New Experience

From a more efficient supply chain aligned with cyclical end-user needs and marketplaces with higher quality components to the ability to provide the most authentic products possible for consumers, blockchain technology is altering how the retail environment works to enhance the overall experience. In return, retailers will yield satisfied customers, a stronger brand reputation, and opportunities to win over more consumers.

Brad Anderson

Editor In Chief at ReadWrite

Brad is the editor overseeing contributed content at ReadWrite.com. He previously worked as an editor at PayPal and Crunchbase. You can reach him at brad at readwrite.com.