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What’s The State Of Blockchain In Retail? 13 Experts Share Their Insights

  • 18 March 2019
  • Sam Mire

When a new store opens, its owners look for signs of promise: a steady, increasing flow of customers. Reassuring feedback from shoppers. Positive Google reviews. It makes an apt analogy for blockchain technology in the retail sector. Retail businesses are examining blockchain technology for what it is and what it will be.

There aren’t many operational deployments of blockchain yet IBM and Walmart have collaborated to use it in supply chain management. Beyond those titans of industry, it’s tough to find companies actively testing blockchain-powered retail systems — as far as the public knows.

Experts agree that the blockchain has a minimal presence in the retail sector for now. But they also agree that there are plenty of use cases likely to succeed once they’re fleshed out and backed by investors. Supply chain and inventory management are two of the most logical applications.

When it comes to swapping retail’s outdated management systems for the blockchain, everything must go!


1. Dr. Lucas Lu, Founder of CyberMiles

Dr. Lucas Lu“In its infancy. Blockchain is moving from just another IT solution to an ecosystem builder.

Consider Bitcoin as blockchain 1.0, and Ethereum as blockchain 2.0, we’re now on to blockchain 3.0, which can realize — and improve upon — the promise of the Ethereum network. That network, as it has gained popularity, has become too slow (transactions per second) and prohibitively expensive (gas fees).”


2. Brendan Miller, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, Inc.

Brendan Miller“The retail sector has been slow in the adoption or testing of blockchain (distributed ledger) technology thus far. The technology has found viable use cases in the financial services industry around cross-border payments, but still has a long ways to go before it reaches any type of critical adoption.”


3. Joe Skorupa, Editorial Director for RIS News

Joe Skorupa“Not much to report. Minimal presence at the NRF Big Show. ‘Lots of people talking, but few of them know,’ to quote Led Zeppelin.”

 

 


4. Christian Beckner, Senior Director of Retail Technology at NRF

Christian Beckner“Many retailers are exploring potential applications for blockchain in areas such as supply chain management and customer identification. But the adoption of such technology is still in its early stages.”

 


5. Michael Dobak, CMO of BLOCKv

Michael Dobak“Retailers are discovering that blockchain’s applications extend far beyond cryptocurrency payment information. Bitcoin and blockchain are, in fact, two separate innovations. The potential for the blockchain in retail is massive and will have an impact on every department. We believe there is a significant opportunity within the promotional marketing and loyalty program sector of retail.”


6. Carol Spieckerman, President of Spieckerman Retail

Carol Spieckerman“Blockchain is the Wild West right now. It holds seemingly infinite promise, particularly as retail has converged with other industries such as healthcare. As is the often the case with high-buzz technologies, blockchain-based solution providers are rushing in to gain first-mover advantage. There will be quite a bit of confusion as everyone attempts to stake a claim and articulate benefits. Retailers are in test-and-learn mode, deciding who to partner with and the capabilities that they will build internally.”


7. Paula Rosenblum, Co-founder and Managing Partner at RSR

Paula Rosenblum“I think there are a lot of companies that see a tremendous amount of promise for track-and-trace both in the supply chain and for merchandise chain of custody.  So, while it’s still immature, there are many who believe it’s the next great thing: a database for the internet age, if you will.”


8. Greg Buzek, President of IHL Group

Greg Buzek“We are still in its infancy.  Where blockchain will make serious inroads is in the supply chain, particularly around visibility and sustainability issues.  This really comes into play with recalls. Food products will be first, driven by the high costs associated with recalls. But I believe the initiative throughout the entire supply chain that IBM and Maersk are behind has real legs.”


9. Filiberto Amati, Partner at Amati & Associates

Filiberto Amati“While we are at an early stage of adoption, we can expect more and more development of blockchain in retail. First and foremost, because of large companies like Carrefour and Walmart, which have started experimenting with the technology, many other players will feel compelled to follow their steps. In addition to that, larger solutions providers like IBM, Deloitte and Accenture are developing blockchain-based solutions for retail. Therefore, it’s easier for retailers to pick a solution off the shelf, rather than developing their own solutions from scratch.”


10. Morvareed Z. Salehpour, Esq., Managing Partner of Salehpour Legal Consulting

Morvareed Salehpour“The strongest use of blockchain technology in the retail space is currently supply chain applications. The Walmart and IBM supply chain blockchain beta in which they could track a box of sliced mangos to its origination point in seconds has amazing implications. It shows what blockchain technology can mean for tracking contaminated foods/products quickly to get out appropriately narrowed recalls to specified parties.”


11. Alexander Kuzin, Co-Founder and CBDO at EVEN Foundation

Alexander Kuzin“Today online retail has successfully introduced the option of cryptocurrency payments (e.g. OPERA crypto wallet). There are stablecoins, coins for micropayments without commissions, etc. Still, the number of Internet users  operating in crypto mode is as small as one percent.”


12. Abhishek Biswas, Content Writer at Orderhive

Abhishek Biswas“Data security is a major issue that the retail industry has been facing for past few years. With increased abuses of personal data, consumers are constantly looking for online data security.

It is expected that blockchain would provide the enhanced version of the term security by encrypting the consumer data, enabling collaboration between stakeholders, and minimizing the chances of fraud and hacks. And also giving retailers greater transparency and control over their own data.

The retail industry is looking forward by leveraging the blockchain technology for data security.”


13. Kristen Howell, Partner at Fox Rothschild

Kristen Howell“Blockchain is in early stages of adoption in the retail industry.  Much excitement centered around the potential for in-store purchases using cryptocurrency, but slow processing speed, pricing conundrums, and other challenges delayed adoption.  Nonetheless, blockchain has many promising use cases in retail, such as supply chain management and customer rewards programs, and some big names are placing bets on its adoption.  Case in point:  IBM’s recent use of precious Super Bowl ad time to promote its “Smart” supply chain tools.”

 

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About Sam Mire

Sam is a Market Research Analyst at Disruptor Daily. He's a trained journalist with experience in the field of disruptive technology. He’s versed in the impact that blockchain technology is having on industries of today, from healthcare to cannabis. He’s written extensively on the individuals and companies shaping the future of tech, working directly with many of them to advance their vision. Sam is known for writing work that brings value to industry professionals and the generally curious – as well as an occasional smile to the face.

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