Blockchain in Retail: Top Use Cases - EffectiveSoft
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Blockchain in Retail Industry: Benefits and Use Cases

Blockchain is most commonly viewed as an instrument aimed at streamlining services and operations in the financial sector. However, the technology is expanding beyond cryptocurrencies and its popular use cases: Bitcoin and Ethereum.
9 min read

    Blockchain has great application potential across industries from healthcare to aviation due to its ability to perfectly organize and securely store data, bring transparency to transactions, and eliminate intermediaries. The technology is also getting widely adopted in retail, offering a way to establish trust and enable transparency among manufacturers, retailers, and consumers. In this article, we will take a closer look at what stands behind the technology and how to put it to good use in the retail industry.

    Potential of blockchain in retail market

    Growing consumers’ expectations of service force retailers to apply new approaches in order to stay more agile and competitive on the market and provide better customer experience. Blockchain stands out among innovative technologies offering immense value to the retail industry. All along the way from a manufacturer to the shelves in a store, it can provide greater transparency into the retail supply chain, reduce costs and risks, build confidence among retailers resulting in increased consumer trust and business outcomes overall.

    According to Gartner, by 2025 20% of the top food retailers by revenue will use blockchain for food traceability to add transparency to production and ensure better quality of goods. The added value of blockchain deployment in the supply chain is estimated to reach up to $176 billion by 2025 and exceed $3.1 trillion by 2030.

    The global audit provider Deloitte underlines in its report that blockchain technology can address four major supply chain pain points in the retail and consumer goods market: traceability, compliance, stakeholder relationship management, and flexibility.

    Blockchain overview

    Blockchain is a digital database which records data or transactions that can be simultaneously used or shared within a unified and decentralized network. A key difference between blockchain and regular database technology lies in the way the data is stored.

    How it works

    Blockchain technology work process

    Blockchain technology work process

    Therefore, the technology allows recording and transmitting information in a consistent, immutable and transparent way with access limited to the network members.

    Key blockchain attributes

    The database is:

    Benefits of blockchain in retail supply chain

    Blockchain use cases in retail

    The value of blockchain in retail extends to various parts of the business. Here we will look at the benefits of blockchain in the retail industry.

    Streamlining supply chain management

    Blockchain presents a strong case for improving and optimizing supply chain management. It can transform the supply chain in many ways:

    • The technology enables efficient data collaboration among supply-chain participants eliminating the need for third parties. Data can be recorded, verified, updated or viewed by parties on a shared digital database providing a transparent track of shipments and other workflows across the supply chain. It facilitates and accelerates payments based on agreements between parties by providing secure real-time verification and enabling transactions without intermediaries.
    • IoT sensors and smart devices could be used in the supply chain to measure product-related parameters (e.g temperature, humidity, etc.) and record them on blockchain to detect problems and take full account of their impact on the supply chain workflows. If you need custom IoT development to create a supply chain, our developers have relevant experience.
    • Blockchain provides continuous monitoring of goods movement, as each step is securely logged across the supply chain: all the products can be traced back to their origin, enhancing transparency and accountability, and reducing the risk of fraud.

    Preventing counterfeiting and fraud

    Counterfeiting hits the global economy hard, with the losses amounted to over $500 billion a year. Fraud methods become more sophisticated and include changing or deleting data in a company’s financial systems, modifying electronic or paper documents and creating fraudulent copies. Using a shared digital database can help tackle and prevent fraud as it provides visibility and transparency of transactions made along the supply chain and among business network participants. All the participants can track and view the transaction records making fraudulent transactions easier to detect.

    The records are also immutable since it’s impossible to change or delete any data without the consent of all the parties. All the processes and transactions are securely recorded and can be reached in full view at any stage in the supply chain. Thus, retailers can guarantee the provenance of products by verifying and tracking the data along the entire supply chain.

    Improving loyalty programs

    Customer loyalty is a great indicator of a healthy and thriving company that seeks growth. Loyalty programs are an important engagement tool that contributes to customer satisfaction and trust. While customers can get generous discounts and bonuses for their loyalty, companies get better brand advocacy and repeat business. Blockchain can be useful in different ways on the road to building loyalty:

    • Blockchain-based loyalty programs are secure and transparent as customer loyalty points are stored and tracked on a decentralized database.
    • Loyalty points can be represented by digital tokens to redeem them for rewards or even exchange for another digital cryptocurrency or money. They’re traceable and almost impossible to steal or hack.
    • Blockchain enables retail partner companies to create a flexible and secure system where loyalty points can circulate across several brands and multiple loyalty programs.
    • In the long run, blockchain in retail can help reduce costs associated with loyalty program management by providing secured and transparent transactions and reducing the chances of errors and fraud.

    Increasing operational efficiency

    Blockchain can facilitate business operations by reducing or eliminating potential friction between business partners. Smart contracts can be used to simplify the implementation of contracts. The terms of a contract can be automatically executed, once the predefined contractual obligations are met (e.g. once the shipment and receipt of the goods is verified, the system will automatically transfer the funds to the supplier).

    In addition, businesses can create private blockchain networks where the blockchain technology provides retailers and supply chain participants with quick access to reliable data via a transparent, shareable and immutable database where all stakeholders can promptly get all required information without security breach.

    When executing trades, blockchain in retail helps to avoid errors that can arise while keeping records via receipts and invoices. Due to the use of the distributed database, the information on transactions is consistent and transparent to both parties and is almost impossible to alter or falsify.

    Retail companies that have adopted blockchain

    Carrefour

    Carrefour has become a blockchain pioneer that integrated the technology into its organic product and textile lines. The initiative is aimed at meeting the consumer’s growing demand for transparency in terms of goods’ provenance and methods of their production. The product is tracked throughout the whole supply chain and ultimately to the end user. As a result, every product ready for sale has a scannable QR code that provides the consumer with information on the lifecycle of the product, including details about the harvest, certificates, flow path, and more.

    Amazon

    The retail giant provides a reliable and efficient environment for customers by using the tool in advertising and marketing.

    In addition, Amazon provides their own blockchain based system that uses Hyperledger Fabric and Ethereum. The system enables businesses to create and manage scalable and tailored blockchain networks using different blockchain frameworks.

    Alibaba

    Alibaba is likewise no stranger to Blockchain. It uses a Blockchain as a Service (BaaS) infrastructure to enhance its product traceability system. The blockchain technology in retail allows recording product registration, logistic details, and customs clearance. It is a good counterfeiting solution that provides more transparency of information.

    De Beers

    The diamond giant has created the world’s first blockchain-powered diamond platform Tracr. The technology allows tracing the diamond journey from its extraction to reaching the storefront. It provides an immutable record of the diamonds’ origin bringing jewelry retailers confidence in the provenance of their purchase and fostering their clients’ trust in ethics and reliability of the product.

    Walmart

    Known for its success in supply chain management, Walmart couldn’t escape the major issue facing the transportation industry: great data inconsistencies in freight invoice and payment process resulting in long payment delays and costly reconciliation efforts. The company has adopted an automated blockchain-based freight and payment network. Apart from automating invoice and payments processes among Walmart’s 70-plus third-party freight carriers, the system helps track deliveries, verify transactions, and increase operational efficiencies. It is undoubtedly a quick solution to payment disputes.

    Conclusion

    With such a comprehensive application scope of blockchain in the retail industry, both end users and retailers can reap the advantages of the technology. Its ability to provide better product traceability and authentication as well as transaction visibility and immutability enables cost-effectiveness and transparency in the entire value chain. This means lower prices and safer products for consumers and their increased trust in retailers in the long run.

    In order to make your solution successful, you will need an experienced team that can uniquely meet your needs and provide the highest level of efficiency and security. Being a reliable blockchain software development company, EffectiveSoft knows how to leverage the benefits of the technology not only in retail, but also in other industries. Our blockchain development experience has been evaluated by Clutch. We hit the rating of top blockchain companies.

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