Bleexy is focused on providing educational resources and open forum to those in the industry interested in leading the evolution of the retail industry through the efficacies offered by blockchain technology.

For most retailers, Blockchain technology is poised to fundamentally alter the retail industry. Yet, many retailers have not taken the steps necessary to embrace blockchain thinking and technology.

Blockchain application could help retailers improve supply chain visibility, inventory management, ensure product provenance and authenticity, speed up transactions, reduce processing fees, and improve management of networked loyalty programs.

Bleexy Commerce Alliance is a partner-led community offering retailers proof on concept solutions to apply blockchain technology. By enabling tighter collaboration amongst retailers, blockchain could improve supply chain visibility, which would enhance sales forecasting and inventory control while establishing product provenance and authenticity. Eliminating the need for redundant management systems and databases across retailers would increase operational efficiencies and reduce costs. Transactions settlement would also become faster and cheaper. Blockchain’s strong built-in encryption could also improve security and mitigate corruption.

What is Blockchain

Originally the formal name of the tracking database underlying the digital currency bitcoin, the term is now used broadly to refer to any distributed electronic ledger that uses software algorithms to record transactions with reliability and anonymity. This technology is also sometimes referred to as distributed ledger (its more generic name), cryptocurrencies (the electronic cryptocurrencies), and decentralized verification (the key differentiating attribute of this type of system).

At the heart, blockchain is a self-sustaining, peer-to-peer database technology for managing and recording transactions with no central bank or clearinghouse involvement. Because blockchain verification is handled through algorithms and consensus among multiple computers, the system is presumed immune to tampering, fraud, or political control. It is designed to protect against domination of the network by any single computer or group of computers. Participants are relatively anonymous, identified only by pseudonyms, and every transaction can be relied upon. Moreover, because every core transaction is processed just once, in one shared electronic ledger, blockchain reduces the redundancy and delay.

Blockchain technology could become a game-changer force in any venue where trading occurs, where trust is at premium, and where people need protection from identity theft – including public sector, healthcare, retail, and, of course, all forms of financial services.

What does make the retail industry an ideal beneficiary for the Blockchain revolution?

Blockchain in Retail

Consumer and customer satisfaction is key to any successful retailer – they are more educated and empowered than they have ever been, and they demand high quality products and fast service. This heightened customer expectation, make the retail value chain ever more challenged by continuing margin pressure, encroaching efforts of digital-native rivals, and greater global competition.

Blockchain has the potential to address these and other issues faced by retailer today. Bitcoin, blockchain technology has extended far beyond financial services industry and impacted nearly every major industry, including retail. Blockchain provides a way to conduct and record transactions through peer-to-peer network that replaces the traditional role of a central authority.

Here are a few areas where Blockchain will add value to the retailer and/or customer:

1. Trust & Provenance

Trust in retail is at an all-time low, especially with online shopping; and brand trust is the number one factor consumers give for shopping at their favorite retailers.

The transparency of the information stored in blockchain means every part of the retail chain, from supplier to retailer to customer, can see where products come from. For consumers it offers the possibility to know more about the provenance of the things they are buying. Increasingly shoppers decisions are driven by environmental or human concerns – the blockchain could allow them to see if their clothes are made through child labor or if there are dangerous or hidden components.

2. Loyalty & rewards programs

Customer rewards are expensive for retailers and have far too low participation from customers. Moving from a fragmented multitude of independent, centralized systems to a single decentralized system will provide a better customer experience, while for the provider of rewards, it streamlines the exchange of information.

Also, blockchain application would allow users to easily redeem point across different merchants and platforms which would be updated in real-time, improving customer satisfaction and reducing liabilities, while also cutting operating costs and decreasing the potential for fraud.

3. Payments – lower costs, lower fees

Today’s business transactions run through a complex network of vendors, including credit card networks, banks and payment processors. Blockchain removes all the unnecessary middlemen allowing for cheap, quick and reliable peer-to-peer transactions.

4. Cloud Storage – better security

Data on a centralized serves is inherently vulnerable to hacking, data loss, or human error. Using blockchain technology allow cloud storage to be more secure and robust against attacks. It also prevents fraudulent transactions simply by removing the ability to alter data.

5. Authenticity – no fake goods

Blockchain can be used to confirm the authenticity of products by enabling customers to look back through the records for an item. This is particularly useful in case of luxury goods where counterfeiting is a big problem. Being able to track a product back to its source gives customers the confidence to part with large sums of money, as they know it’s the real deal.

The same system can be used to notify customers should their product be stolen and then attempted to be resold. This new transaction would also appear on the blockchain enabling the real owner to trace the product. Using blockchain in this way could help deter counterfeiters, as well as those looking to trade in stolen goods.

6. Shipping

Using decentralized technologies, all communication between these parties will be direct, eliminating the need for them to pass through a specific central entity. Connecting all members of a supply chain to a decentralized blockchain allow for a direct exchange of documents between them, solving one of the shipping industry’s largest problems.

This could help reduce the number of lost or damaged products in shipments, which may result in significant cost savings. In the case of product recalls having an accurate supply chain record could help retailers identify the source of issue, what products are affected and contain the problem.

7. Inventory & Supply Chain Management

With increasing complexity of SKU management and shorter product life cycles, sale forecasting has become more difficult for national fashion apparel retailers. Blockchain can help retailers by providing a single source of truth and use of smart contracts to enable the automatic execution of payments and orders. The improved supply chain visibility would increase operation efficiency and allow more accurate forecast, preventing over-ordering and minimizing lost sales due to stock-outs.

With blockchain technology, transactions can be documented in a permanent decentralized record, and monitored securely and transparently. This can greatly reduce time delays, and human mistakes. It can also be used to monitor costs, labor, and event waste and emission at every point of the supply chain.

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