The current technologies and their trends are all set to disrupt how we function, automate all the tasks, and improve the overall performance of the companies and their stakeholders. AI will not only enable machines to understand humans better but will also help them think and work like humans. The resources can, as a result, be used for core work, as most of the automation will be taken care of by AI. Connected device technology IoT will offer a collection of data that the businesses can work upon.
Blockchain is the recent technology that is aimed at disrupting how we perform, validate, work and store data. Every little aspect of the data will be under the scrutiny of this technology, thus allowing massive control on the data, and reducing data breaches and errors.
The retail industry has been thriving on the fact that it offers convenience to the end-users. Within a few years, the retail industry moved from being only mom-n-pop store to having online outlets, and today’s mobile presence. You can enjoy the comforts and benefits such as same-day shipping etc. when you are involved with the retail industry.
Blockchain, among other technologies, works towards improving the retail segment and addressing the top concerns. Let’s talk about the challenges the retail industry faces, and which among them can be sorted by the Blockchain technology.
Challenges Faced by Retail Industry
- When people shop online, they are asked to share all their personal data. If the transactions are completed online, then all your transaction history is also stored online. Who can view this data, and misuse it? the question haunts the customer, which is why most of them don’t prefer shopping online. Even if they do, they prefer not logging in, sharing their data or using online banking. This kind of security breach impacts the sales and retention levels of the retail businesses.
- Counterfeit products are on an exponential increase in the markets now. It has become increasingly difficult to identify the original from the fake considering the logo and other assets can be copied with perfection. As a result of counterfeit products, businesses are impacted negatively. As a result of the negative impression in the market, the retailers suffer huge losses. This can affect their business growth and lead to customer attrition as well.
- The marketplace is flooded with competition, and each one claims to have genuine products. How can the customer believe the retailer unless they have some kind of proof? In a quest for guarantee and the need to know the difference between original and fake, the demand for transparency in the product life cycle has become important. People want to know where the product was produced, and how it entered the marketplace. Buying diamond jewelry involves a need for certificates and other procurement papers that will help the customer know if it is original or fake. No one relies on the simple sticker that claims it to be original and genuine.
- Billion-dollar decisions are based on real-time fluctuations that occur in the supply chain. From knowing how much inventory is actually available, to being able to know the laws of the land, and how the middlemen are working, it has become important for retailers to have a real-time view into the supply chain. They need to know if the orders will be delivered on time or not, and what would lead to possible delays.
- Legal trade is the need of the hour considering eCommerce has led to the making of a single marketplace for the retailers. Having said that, you need to have a know-how of the laws governing the land for cross-border retail. This will help you keep up with the documentation needs, and ensure you don’t have to pay the fines unnecessarily.
How Blockchain can Help?
The retailers are constantly faced with numerous challenges, and it is time for them to overcome these challenges, and make their businesses transparent and profitable. Blockchain seems to be the perfect answer to all the issues and challenges facing a retailer.
Preventing Counterfeit Goods
We saw how counterfeit products are becoming a cause of worry for the retailers. This can be easily resolved if you can add tags containing some identity on the products. Record these tags into the Blockchain database. Any transaction that happens related to the product will automatically get recorded in the Blockchain database, thus ensuring you don’t need to worry about genuine and fake.
For instance, the TV brands that are threatened by the counterfeit variants should add the serial number of the originals into the Blockchain database. All the units should be recorded. In case, the person tries to sell off another serial number that is not a part of the Blockchain system or, is trying to use the serial number and flash it as another brand, then the Blockchain system will automatically record it, and make sure the same mistake does not happen again. You can even track the validity of the product, and make sure your users have genuine products.
Enhancing Supply Chain Visibility
Supply chain visibility is a major concern. Order fulfillment, inventory management, and tracking data records are some of the supply chain concerns facing the retailer. With Blockchain, you get greater transparency into your supply chain. Let’s say a medicine was manufactured in the year 2017, and it is to expire in 2020. There are retailers who tend to extend the expiry date through manipulation. As you don’t have complete insight into the supply chain, you tend to buy a product that has already expired, and you tend to sell it. this lack of visibility leads to issues for the retailer.
This is just one example of what happens when there is a lack of visibility. It can happen in any segment of retail. That’s why Blockchain needs to be introduced. With RFID tags attached to the products and sensors placed along with all aspects of the supply chain, you can get all the data related to the products including the temperature, humidity and even the manufacturing and expiry of the products. You can go back to the origin of the product, and trace all the points from there. Apart from this, you can even track the physical aspects of the supply chain in real-time, thus able to manage the actual position of the goods, being able to manage the payments and transactions without any delays, and ensuring complete and hassle-free order fulfillment.
With these tags, you can also assure your customers that you are selling genuine goods. You will be able to offer complete documentation for the same.
Improved Business Operations
Data is the basis for strong operations. If you can manage the data, and prevent manipulation and breach of the data, then you have customers ready to be a part of your business.
With Blockchain at the centre of your data, you will be able to ensure money exchange happens faster and in a safe manner. You will be able to prevent customer data from getting attacked by hackers, and ensure it is private.
You will seek permission to use the data. In fact, the customer would be in complete control of what data is being used, how the data can be used, and where it will be used.
The Blockchain gives complete transparency and ensures no data manipulation thus increasing trust among the stakeholders.
For instance, if the customer is saving their card details, it will be encrypted and decentralized by Blockchain. Only the customer can view this data. The transactions will happen in an encrypted form with the bank, and no one else can view any details of the transaction. This way the card details can be safe within the app.
The retail industry is completely insight-driven and has its focus on technology. It is indeed important for retailers to up their security levels and work towards offering a frictionless experience to the customers if they don’t want to face attrition.
Blockchain will offer complete transparency of the goods, from the origin to the current point in the product life cycle. It will prevent the sale of counterfeit products, and increase the efficiency of the systems.
Blockchain in combination with other technologies will help improve your business offerings and create a productive environment for the retailers.