Blockchain might be better known as the technology that supports cryptocurrency, but its value extends well beyond that niche. In fact, blockchain could be applied to just about any situation where events, processes, and inventory need to be tracked and accounted for.
From banking to insurance to government operations and beyond, blockchain simplifies and disambiguates. Though it may prove challenging to get the entire world on board in the short-term, industries like retail, manufacturing, and logistics have embraced the opportunity.
Companies that have committed to blockchain already realize significant gains in profitability, accountability, and customer service. Blockchain also enables product traceability and authentication, currently a substantial and pressing issue in the retail realm.
With this in mind, it seems just a matter of time before this approach becomes a necessary element in the effort to drive efficiencies and improve margins in today’s competitive markets.
What is Blockchain?
To put it simply, blockchain is an online, public, and permanent ledger that can be accessed by all stakeholders in a process. It contains evidence such as contracts, agreements, and actions taken by all parties. Once a record has been established, it cannot be altered in any way. This means that the data is reliable and always available to anyone who requires it.
How Retail Operations Benefit From Blockchain
Retail operations draw incredible value from blockchain. From the warehouse to the store shelf and everything in-between, it provides clarity, instills trust, and drives tremendous efficiencies.
For the consumer, blockchain supports transparency in product authentication and traceability, verifying the origins of products, eliminating fraud, and building trust.
In the retail supply chain, it ensures companies are investing in ethically-sourced products, helping them meet customer demand while strengthening their bottom line. Every transaction, every process is recorded and available at every point in the supply chain. This resonates from the supplier to the manufacturer, on to the retailer and the consumer.
With the prevalence of counterfeit goods and knock-offs, the reputations of the world’s biggest brands are at stake. From luxury goods to pharmaceuticals, diamonds, electronics, and more, blockchain verifies provenance. In addition, stolen goods can be recorded, enabling the apprehension of valuable items.
Blockchain moves product warranties from a paper system into the cloud, simplifying the process for both consumers and manufacturers. Warranties are easily transferrable to new owners, who can maintain their warranties in a virtual wallet, sparing admin costs and removing complexities for all concerned.
Shipping and Supply Chain
By moving shipping documentation to blockchain, processes are simplified, and third-party complications are virtually eliminated. For retailers dealing with international suppliers, this is an especially attractive feature as it reduces the time it usually takes to exchange and execute documents. Stakeholders have immediate access to all necessary documentation, speeding up customs procedures, and removing a lot of red tape in the process.