In mid January 2018, retail giant Walmart announced that they would be cutting over 1,000 corporate jobs. The reason? To reorient itself in an ever evolving retail environment dominated by ecommerce superstar, Amazon.
The layoffs are part of Walmart’s plan to make the company more efficient and better aligned with its ecommerce thrusts. It will also be abruptly closing 63 Sam’s Clubs across the country, and the management staff will face a shakeup as well.
The retail industry is also staring down the barrel of a new loaded gun – blockchain technology. The emerging sector has produced several companies that are looking to change the way that retail shopping is conducted, from tracking products on a decentralized ledger to letting users earn rewards for evaluating different items.
The main value derived from blockchain based retail and shopping companies is their decentralization. By using public, distributed ledgers to disseminate information and store transactions, blockchain companies effectively remove third party entities that are intimately involved with the shopping process and its transactions–think banks, credit card companies, and payment vendors.
What’s more, blockchain technology has allowed companies to see more profits while also lowering costs for consumers. Both parties win, and the entire system is streamlined. Blockchain technology will change the landscape of shopping and retail by incentivizing community interaction, fostering consumer loyalty, and revolutionizing how consumers use points.
Incentivizing Shopping Community Interactions
The move from traditional retail to ecommerce has forced many companies to shore up their web based sales portals. Now, retail behemoths like Walmart, Target, and Costco allow users to purchase thousands of items online, with each item having a section for customer reviews.
The problem is that there is hardly any incentive for customers to submit reviews on products. Sure, it feels good to help other people decide if a product is helpful or not, but more often than not, the long review submittal process just isn’t worth the time or effort. For shoppers that purchase products in person, it is too much of a hassle to track the product down online and then write a review.
Some blockchain companies are creating platforms that allow shoppers to quickly and easily share reviews on any and all products through scanning barcodes. The best part is that customers are incentivized with platform tokens to scan barcodes and submit reviews–helping marketers put their products in front of potential customers’ eyes at the point of sale.
For consumers, every time a barcode is scanned, a detailed summary of the product, its authenticity, and its origin shows up. They can then make a purchasing decision based on all the necessary details.
One company, Shping, is developing a platform that does just this. Users can go to a store, scan an item’s barcode, and be met with all the product details they need. If they want, they can leave a review for the product. Whenever a barcode is scanned or a review is written, the user will receive platform tokens in return, to be used on the platform’s app. Through the app, marketers have direct access to consumers and can fill at item’s barcode with any helpful information.
Consumer Loyalty and Rewards Get a Blockchain Sized Boost
Blockchain companies specialize in creating decentralized, global marketplaces. Some companies like Benebit are working on distributed networks specifically designed for the cash back and loyalty markets.
The platforms allow individual users to earn digital tokens back for every purchase they make–similar to a cash back rewards credit card. The difference is that the purchases aren’t made with credit, so users don’t have to worry about 25% plus interest rates and awful credit card customer service.
Users will be able to use all-in-one platforms that streamline the shopping process. The goal is for popular companies to engage in loyalty and cash back programs, creating an impetus for consumers to continue shopping their favorite vendors.
A decentralized global marketplace is also a great way for businesses and retail outlets to expand their brand image and grow their customer base. The blockchain powered platforms allow cross border transactions and give companies the ability to run cash back and loyalty campaigns, with rewards doled out in cryptocurrency form, payable to any user in the world.
Another option is to use the GAT system, which allows merchants to produce and distribute their own branded digital tokens. Users can consolidate discount coupons, loyalty points, and vouchers into liquid tokens to shop online, making sure that no extra money goes to waste.
Though blockchain technology is young, its impact is being felt in many industries all over the world. Blockchain companies are just starting to get ramped up in the shopping and retail industries, but in a few years time, the landscape could change dramatically–for the better, of course.