The Future of Retail Is Here and It Involves Blockchain

Retailers who have been behind trends to offer a better way to shop are currently being replaced by online stores which offer the convenience of seeing hundreds of products at a glance and have them delivered to you within days. Furthermore, without the need to maintain a physical store presence, E-commerce stores have been able to set lower prices to customers and lower costs to manufacturers.

Nevertheless, retail is making a comeback. Just as E-commerce is getting better by offering more options and faster delivery, the same is true for retail. The hassle of long checkout lines has been a major deterrent to retail. It was partially replaced with self-checkout stations, but glitchy machines that require an employee override is clearly not the solution. Instead, retailers have launched grab and go stores to make retail more convenient than ever. Well, one might ask, how do stores keep track of what you take? We’ll answer that and how blockchain plays a role in the future of retail.

Imagine being able to walk into a store, take whatever you want, and then just walk out the door. There’s no need to bring your wallet or wait in cashier lines, just fill your shopping bags and leave. Of course, you still have to pay, but the store will charge you automatically as you leave. This is a new business model called "grab and go" and retailers are using it to retain customers and compete with E-commerce.

Grab and go stores use a variety of lasers and sensors to track when a customer takes an item or puts it back. Now that retail has solved the issue of convenience for customers, the only cost left to cover is the maintenance of physical stores.

In addition to "grab and go" Blockchain is making retail a more affordable avenue to sell products by making the supply chain more efficient. By being able to track inventory through the supply chain, manufacturers can reduce the cost of retaining retail stores and simplify the complexity of current distribution. Blockchain also allows grab and go stores to keep track of their inventory and sales, eliminating the chance of shoplifting and ensuring that customers aren’t overcharged.

Another advantage that Blockchain provides is the transparency offered to consumers. Garments will have digital labels that keep track of everything from where the raw materials used to make the item are sourced to where they are made. These labels will show a record when scanned which can verify the quality of the product. The increased visibility will also ensure the safety of food products. A product’s history could validate labels such as organic and locally grown. Even individual ingredients could be tracked to help customers avoid food allergies.  

Blockchain also presents a more convenient payment system. Scanners by exits charge customer’ online accounts so there’s no need for a wallet. Some retailers have even explored accepting cryptocurrency payments, with Amazon already accepting three. By doing so, retailers would not have to pay fees for card transactions and therefore could offer lower prices to customers. Private blockchains also allow users to determine who can use the network and encrypts user’s financial information, offering greater security.

We believe that the convergence of digital and physical retail will ultimately offer the best of both worlds. Grab and go stores can still maintain the personal experience of in-store shopping service while offering E-commerce delivery options.

Nevertheless, though E-commerce has stolen customers from retail by offering lower prices and a more convenient shopping platform, retail is back on the rise. In-store technology expedites the shopping process and blockchain will cut costs, allowing retailers to compete with online prices.


Johnny Kobori