In this day and age, the retail industry is evolving to face new challenges. According to a recent report by EPI on payment trends, the future appears to hold virtual payments in the form of digital cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.
Eliminating costly transaction fees and increasing speed are two of the potential benefits that this payment method will entail. When it comes to fulfilling the needs of customers, FIS Global describes how simplifying the retail payment process through cross-channel platforms can accelerate growth. However, managing multiple currencies and languages can be complicated. Retailers who are willing to consider the potential of cryptocurrency payments can potentially create another revenue stream and reach more customers around the world. Despite this, applications of blockchain and cryptocurrency in the retail industry are still in the early stages of development.
Tracking food and beverage supply chains At the beginning of the retail process, supply chain fraud is a common issue that plagues consumers. For instance, sub-standard olive oil can be mislabelled as extra-virgin olive oil when in fact they’re not the genuine article. For brands, maintaining a good reputation is vital to maintain consumer trust. To improve traceability, Horizon Magazine explains how blockchain technology can monitor oil from its grove until the point of sale, including information about its quality determined from laboratory tests. This enables consumers to check the authenticity of a product from its label. Similarly, major companies like Starbucks will start using blockchain to help customers trace their coffee purchases back to the farmers involved. It’s clear that transparency, sustainability, and trust are becoming key priorities for buyers.
Detecting counterfeit luxury goods Luxury retailers are also acknowledging the value of blockchain technology. According to an article from Supply Chain Digital, differentiating between the real thing and a convincing forgery is a difficult task. Recently, companies like the London-based startup Everledger have been focusing on how to solve this issue. In the diamond industry, they are using blockchain tech to record the attributes of each diamond produced, updating its information every time there is a change of ownership or other significant alterations to the precious object. In addition, VeChain is looking to create an app that allows instant authenticity checks on precious items such as art, fine wines, and antiques. This will help track ownership and share information on product lifecycles.
Transforming loyalty programs With increasing competition between brands, promoting brand loyalty can be a challenging process. Real Business explores how blockchain is impacting loyalty programmes by centralising the creation of loyalty programmes. LoyalT’s solution is to integrate any business of any size into a single loyalty points exchange network at a lower cost. This aims to provide the business with the ability to provide more redemption value on a highly secure platform. In addition, retailers can gain insights from customers’ shopping habits, enabling them to create more precise marketing campaigns.
Despite these benefits, retailers face a host of legal and technical challenges when it comes to integrating blockchain and cryptocurrency into existing systems. In the very near future, it is likely that growing numbers of major brands will start increasing their involvement in this area.
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