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eCommerce Journal Authors: James Carlini, Shelly Palmer, Suresh Sambandam, Jnan Dash, Kevin Sides

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How Blockchain Is Changing the Retail Industry | @CloudExpo #DX #FinTech #Blockchain

Blockchain offers impeccable security with its cryptography-based decentralized system

Blockchain offers impeccable security with its cryptography-based decentralized system as well as the plethora of possible uses retailers could exploit in the near future.

In a world of increasing cyberattacks, internet fraud and online hacking, blockchain comes as a breath of fresh air. With its encrypted data and decentralized network system, it's a thorn in every hacker's side. Generally being associated with the finance sector, blockchain is now taking retail by storm. It's on a course that will change the retail industry as we know it. But how exactly is it going to achieve such a feat?

First of all, what is blockchain? Well, blockchain is a digital ledger which stores its data in the form of interlinked blocks. Each block contains a timestamp of its transaction along with the transaction data. The links between the blocks are secured by using encryption, which prevents data modification of any kind. And once the data is in, it cannot be deleted, unless every previous block (to the one being modified) is deleted along with it. Moreover, it uses a decentralized network system for distributing its data, which means it cannot be remotely accessed, or hacked, from any central point. In short, blockchain is perfect transaction tool.

Actually, it's so secure that it is already being linked with the financial sector. With the use of peer-to-peer transactions, cryptocurrencies and goods can be transferred independently of banks with little to no risk whatsoever. But wait, there's more! Because of its decentralized system, blockchain is suitable for safe storage any kinds of records; be they medical, transactional or something else. This means that blockchain has a wide range of uses. But where does the retail sector fit into all of this?

Well, imagine if you could trace the steak you ate to the pasture from where it ‘originated'. Potentially, checking if the cows are actually grass-fed or not. Foodborne diseases could be traced back to its source fairly quickly, enabling a faster recall of contaminated food. The future seems bright for blockchain in the food industry. Especially because of the transparency when viewing the histories and origins of certain products. Walmart, Kroger and Nestle are already teaming up on finding a way of fully implementing blockchain technology into their supply chain; which goes to show just how serious the application of blockchain is getting. In addition, blockchain can be used to spot, and thus reduce, the use of counterfeit goods in the retail market.

At the moment, the BlockVerify app can verify counterfeit products and stolen merchandise of pharmaceuticals, luxury items, diamonds, and electronics. Blockchain's digital ledger enables both consumers and retailers to check for certified goods, which could spell the end for stolen and counterfeit goods altogether. Shipping will also benefit greatly from the use of blockchain. Goods can be traded directly by the peer-to-peer system, which would in turn effectively cut out the middleman and decrease the obscene documentation needed for the whole process. Amazon beware.

So far, it's obvious that blockchain's impact on retail will be massive. Similarly to how AI is transforming the retail industry nowadays with chatbots, personal product recommendations, and other retail business intelligence software. Soon, retailers could see blockchain replacing cashiers in their stores completely, or so is the idea behind Amazon Go stores. Consumers would no longer need to wait in long boring lines to pay for their goods. Instead, they would be able to just pick up the goods they want, place them in their baskets and stroll out of the shop. All this without even reaching for their wallets and paying the cashier on the way out; such things will be a thing of the past. In addition, there is yet another potential combo of blockchain with high-tech. Namely, Virtual Reality. With the peer-to-peer transaction system, blockchain and VR could work together to allow artists live performances in people's living rooms, without the need to pay for expensive concert halls. In the gaming industry, the mixture of VR and cryptocurrencies could see the birth of ‘real' Virtual Reality, especially in the case of MMOs. Where people could trade goods and items for cryptocurrencies between themselves without a large gaming company getting in their way. Almost sounds like something out of sci-fi.

To sum up, blockchain offers impeccable security with its cryptography-based decentralized system as well as the plethora of possible uses retailers could exploit in the near future. VR is a prime example of how the innovative high-tech slowly, but surely, becomes mainstream with the reduction in prices as a result of rapid commercialization. Likewise, blockchain will share the same fate, ultimately seeing itself becoming an integral part of the retail market.

More Stories By Nate Vickery

Nate M. Vickery is a business consultant from Sydney, Australia. He has a degree in marketing and almost a decade of experience in company management through latest technology trends. Nate is also the editor-in-chief at