Retailers are adopting blockchain technology to simplify payments

Retail companies should consider blockchain technology to streamline payments, alongside better supply chain and inventory management.
29 September 2021

A conveyer belt with objects representing areas that can be revolutionized by blockchain technology, including retail transformation. (Photo by David Becker / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

Retail payments are experiencing a slow-burn revolution as blockchain technology is fast gaining a foothold in the industry. In the US, companies like Walmart and Amazon have started to recruit blockchain and crypto experts to join their teams.

Alibaba recently launched a marketplace that will allow the average consumer the opportunity to try out a new digital experience through blockchain payments on a trust platform. If done right, they can use this opportunity to improve their business technology while understanding what their users engage with.

The speed, transparency, reputation, and security of blockchain technology is not only revolutionizing payment methods but also enabling NFT’s to emerge as luxury retail’s new frontier. In fact, with NFT tokens being highly sought-after at the moment, DappRadar’s NFT Marketplace tracker is reporting that NFT 30-day trading volume for just the top five marketplaces is over US$2.8 billion as of August 25, 2021.

To understand more about how blockchain can benefit the retail industry, TechHQ speaks to Adam Jones, Senior Technology Director at brand innovation consultancy R/GA. Jones is a technology leader who loves building smart solutions that solve hard problems. He has extensive experience in digital transformation, integrated brand technology strategy, and management consulting.

Why should the retail industries look to blockchain adoption?

Adam Jones, Senior Technology Director at R/GA

One of the reasons why retail companies should consider distributed ledger technology is to have better supply chain and inventory management. Businesses will have a better understanding of inventory and deliver better products for the customers they serve, in real-time.

They can also look to ‘Crypto as a Payment’. We are shifting to a crypto-friendly society; only natural retailers allow crypto payments on the blockchain.

Also, they will have clean customer data. Customers can now have their data stored in an immutable way that ensures no hacks or third-party breaches. A company will better serve clients, and their data is now safer.

 Some of the companies that are using blockchain for retail payments include:

  • Ikea: allows users to purchase with crypto
  • Walmart: uses blockchain technology to keep track of the seafood supply chain for the freshest fish in the market and food safety.
  • Home Depot: used in shipping dispute resolution. Home Depot is testing Ethereum and Hyperledger as record-keeping platforms, which will allow it to resolve disputes with suppliers concerning shipment quantities.

How can organizations implement blockchain in their marketing plans?

The Internet’s first advert was served in 1994 — it’s now a multi-billion dollar industry. In 2020, online advertising surpassed US$340bn and accounted for over 50% of global media spend.

The exponential growth of digital advertising was fueled by rapid innovation. As a result, the industry has become highly fragmented and dominated by Facebook and Google, whose ‘walled gardens’ have claimed a 53.3% share of all digital advertising spend (worth around US$181.5bn).

At its core, programmatic advertising is an automated way to buy or sell online media using a combination of technologies. In this sense, it shares similarities with traditional centralized financial and derivative exchanges. Buyers and sellers transact online media programmatically in 1/1000th of a second via preset strategies. Data is relayed between a webpage to multiple centralized servers to deliver an advert concurrently with content on page load.

Alkimi Exchange will reestablish the intended value exchange on the internet between publishers, advertisers, and users by supporting the real-time buying and selling of digital advertising via a novel decentralized application, on the Hypergraph. Alkimi is powered by the Hypergraph – a revolutionary blockchain technology trusted by the U.S. Department of Defense – which allows us to provide the fastest, infinitely scalable solution with 0% fraud, minimal transaction fees, and complete end-to-end transparency.

For advertisers like Nike, P&G, Unilever and such, it will be transparent and authenticated supply chain, enhanced trading strategies, instant reconciliation of advertising spend, reduced transaction fees, and increased ad performance.

For publishers like CNN, NY Times, Time Magazine, it would mean increased revenue and profitability, auditability of buyers and visibility of all data in the supply chain, enhanced trading strategies, as well as increased ad performance. And for internet users, it would mean faster loading web pages, decreased ad density, derisked internet browsing, and rewards for internet browsing

Apart from retail, can eCommerce industries leverage blockchain as well?

The most practical place to start with any decentralized practice would be in the supply chain process. They don’t need to focus on a cryptocurrency as much as they need to make the current supply chain more transparent and traceable. Both Amazon and Walmart have a devoted user base, and creating the most effective supply chain delivery system will enhance that relationship and possibly gain new users. There is one caveat, though, Amazon.

I could see Amazon AWS partnering with a product like Constellation Network on strategic data security incentives. Both organizations have close relationships with the government, and as we all know, data security is paramount in this day and age. Constellation has built the Hypergraph (HGTP) and has proven to be the leader of all the protocols to handle data security and transfer.

Is blockchain technology expensive to be implemented by organizations?

Blockchain is one long transaction log, that always gets written to and is never backed up. What makes blockchain expensive for any organization is shoehorning cryptography to create a digital signature to reduce the risk of data tampering into your business — without understanding why you need it. Blockchain isn’t a magic bullet you plug into your business without doing the upfront work on WHY you need it. Most business scenarios can be handled with a simple ledger or GraphDB.

What are the common misconceptions companies have about blockchain, that affect their decision to adopt the technology?

Many companies confuse blockchain with cryptocurrencies. If you choose blockchain technology or DLT, it does not mean that you need to accept crypto. Another misconception is that you just plug blockchain into your organization, and it will fix your issues. Organizations looking to solve many problems with technology can be resolved with organizational change first, followed by technology.

Will blockchain and cryptocurrency become the future of commerce?

Absolutely! The utility alone is worth the shift to a decentralized future. Amazing projects are happening right now, and I suggest learning more about how they are changing the world we live in. I am following Constellation network ($DAG), and they are doing some great things in Layer 0.