Blockchain + Retail Use Cases

My thoughts on four use cases that blockchain can directly benefit merchants involved in online retail.

It’s been a buzzword we all hear every day, but blockchain is much more than a fad. The technology — which provides the foundation of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and more — has the potential to transform the retail landscape, from inventory management and payments, to financing, insurance, supply chain management, and more.

Improved Checkout

A recent Barilliance study found that 3 out of 4 Shoppers do not purchase items that they put into their carts. This is obviously a huge loss of revenue for eCommerce stores. It also goes to show how important a frictionless user experience (UX) is to combat this trend.

Bringing that elevated experience design to independent merchants is a major driver in the success of market leaders like Shopify and Squarespace Commerce. Given their large R&D budgets, these firms can afford to test and iterate successful UX at a level that SMBs simply cannot. Blockchain can take this to the next step.

Blockchain technology enables more secure payments, an easier checkout, and a consistent user experience across multiple stores. Imagine being able to conveniently share your payment information with every vendor without having to log in, or being able to purchase items across the world with the same ease as purchasing goods locally in your local currency.

Breaking Borders

In 2018, it’s estimated we’ll see almost $700 billion in cross-border shopping spend. By 2020, cross-border eCommerce is estimated to reach $1 Trillion. Around 54% of US digital shoppers reported making online purchases from a foreign site in the past, and 67% of global consumers who shop abroad claim to do so because prices are lower outside of their own country. (source)

This means Brands and retailers need a simple way to accept a broad array of cross-border payment types including credit, debit, prepaid, fiat, and cryptocurrency.

Blockchain technology, with its ability to seamlessly facilitate cross-border transactions, supply chain management, and shipping and customs practices, can be the driving force towards broadening access to international eCommerce and global shopper inclusion. As proof, Chinese multinational eCommerce giant Alibaba recently announced their T-Mall is moving all cross-border eCommerce to blockchain.

Connecting with Shoppers

In today’s retail landscape, all of the power resides with a handful of big international marketplaces like Amazon, Walmart, and Alibaba. These marketplaces force both brands and individual consumers to play by their rules because they control all traffic and the resultant user data.

We believe there will be a shift from this current centralization model to a focus on decentralized eCommerce stores because, increasingly, users are not comfortable with the data collection practices of large corporations, and brands are suffering from extreme margin squeeze. Even more alarming is the fact that Brands are being forced out of their own markets by having to compete with marketplace private line development that copies their most successful products.

Most important, however, is the simple fact that niche Brand stores can provide a much more personalized, curated experience for Shoppers, while decentralized marketplaces would allow for Brands to flourish in an environment where data is shared, and ultimately return more value to the platform.

Opening access to user data can help facilitate this shift and lead to a closer relationship between Brands and Shoppers and go a long way towards improving online experiences, products, and services.

This model provides for more than just margin maximization. Understanding Shoppers’ needs and preferences informs Brands’ product development and marketing strategies and enables them to offer more insightful promotions for sharing posts with friends, or discounts on future purchases.

Greater Transparency

Blockchain can empower consumers to capture and reclaim ownership of their personal data as they move across the web and permission that data to Brands within each transaction in return for discounts and loyalty rewards. This way, Shoppers enjoy personal data ownership while Brands get the valuable consumer insights they need to better serve them.

Protocols will be enabled that allow developers to easily create new decentralized shopping platforms and apps that deliver the efficiencies and inherent security of the blockchain.

Blockchain to the Future

Online retail sales are growing growing like wildfire and blockchain is poised to bring empowerment to both Brands and Shoppers more than ever. We look forward to being stewards of the forthcoming retail revolution.

2X eCommerce Podcast: Decentralize and Give Shoppers Full Control of their Data

Originally published at on March 28, 2018.

EVERY* CEO, John Wantz, was featured on 2X eCommerce’s podcast hosted by Kunle Campbell. Listen to John share his thoughts on blockchain, tokenized retail, and the value of EVERY for Brands and Shoppers.

Listen here: online, soundcloud, and iTunes.

SHOP is now EVERY* (Every instance of SHOP including the title has been changed for brand equity)

Shopper Demand Generation Across Retail Environments

At the demand end of the retail supply chain where advertising and marketplace experiences occur, there are a couple of key layers that sit between the brand and the shopper. Marketplaces, like Amazon and Walmart, and the networks that create demand against those marketplaces, like Facebook, Google, Adroll, and other social channels, have developed yet another layer of intermediation between the brands and the shoppers. These “bad actors,” as we like to call them, have perfected their monetization strategies against centralizing shopper data, hindering these brands from authentically connecting with those who desire to purchase their products.

Everyone has an opportunity for fair trade and a fair stake in the value that they bring to the supply chain, but inside of advertising and demand generation, I do think that there are archaic models that are being relegated into nothing more than significant consumer data strongholds. The owners of these strongholds continue to compound and re-leverage all that consumer data in order to abstract a brand as far away as possible from the shopper. Specifically, when social platforms look to move eCommerce experiences and more of the shopping funnel inside of their environments rather than facilitating a fair exchange with the brand around an attributable model driving against authentic shopper interest and demand, they continue to cheapen brands against KPIs or ad metrics that are incredibly inefficient. That’s an area that feels very brittle and I think that decentralization and disruption centered around the economic model of a brand, ie driving sales or net new transaction, presents a massive opportunity.

The data that is abstracted from shoppers across ad networks or social channels is significant. I’m not sure an individual shopper would be able to comprehend the amount of data that is stored “on their behalf” and then used against them as they are trying to move through the natural discovery process for products, services, and food that interest them. That level of manipulation under the guise of convenience is not only sustainable, but will only lead to withering out of culture and individual expression.

Why Data Centralization is Bad

First and foremost, data centralization is perceived as great for shoppers. A marketplace like Amazon is the most efficient shopping experience due to product variety and the ability to price shop within an encapsulated environment; its seen as a significant value add to be able to go to Amazon rather than going to an individual brand’s site. As a result, Amazon now owns that trust layer between the brand and the shopper. They’ve developed world class efficiencies at getting us our products swiftly and inside of the terms that make sense for us. But there’s a deficiency that has been occurring for the Shopper over the last several years that’s about to see a significant spike: margin extraction.

In order to continue to extract as much margin as possible out of every transaction, the Walmarts and the Amazons of the world are now having to move rapidly into private line development. For example, as a shopper, one used to be able to go to Amazon to buy Energizer or Duracell, but Amazon Basic batteries now dominate the search query.

We see a lot of testing in the emergence of private development from Amazon through product lines like Amazon Basics. They have dozens and dozens of private lines that operate as independent companies and entities so that they can start to remove all the value from the brands that originally generated the demand. By collecting all data related to the shopper’s response to those brands’ products, they gain insights into the products’ successes and failures. Based on that data, they build out different private lines across diverse product categories, undercutting brands in a variety of incredibly harmful ways.

While a shopper might value the convenience provided over the future of brand, these tactics have a negative impact on them as well. Amazon has shown the tendencies to manipulate pricing once they’ve isolated and controlled the product category. So, a simple example is batteries. Once they own the vertical in the product category, they control the market and are able to dictate online pricing. Its relevant to expect this behavior to increase for shoppers.

While these big detriments of price manipulation and relegated product selection are clearly of importance, the shift to private line development erodes culture. The artisans, the creators, and all the people who put the time into research, those who dedicate years to developing products, understanding products, and creating raw product goods, they are literally robbed of their rewards and creativity. There’s a moral opportunity to make sure and think about giving shoppers legitimate product selection. As these environments move sharply into private line development, the artisans and fashion designers are removed from the workflow. By no means is the private line fashion team at Amazon capable of developing anything like these actual brands and manufacturers can from a creative and culturally relevant standpoint.

Originally published at on January 20, 2018.

Future of Commerce is Patented.

What we recognized early during the creation of Corp, (circa 2013) was that the centralizing and serving up of product and shopper data into apps, marketplaces, and social channels would be a significant undertaking, but one hell of a market opportunity. Enabling that level of data mobility would be unique and extremely important should shoppers opt to engage with a brands products across environments.

Let me explain what we wanted to protect: shopping anywhere. Having the world of commerce dominated by Amazon, Flipkart and Alibaba reflects the recurring and compounding strategies of incumbent retailers, entities that persistently centralize the shopping experience.

Again — Let me explain. We tried on multiple occasions with Amazon to engage them to partner with us as a payments partner in order to support the efforts of putting digital commerce into ads, social channels or developer’s apps. While certain humans on the Amazon payments team found the ‘Buy Now’ use cases from Pinterest and Twitter cute, there were ZERO FUCKS given into the consideration process where Amazon would be interested in enabling their value to be leveraged outside of the desirable path to purchase.

Again, more — I have my intuitions derived from previous engagements with the Amazon payments and Amazon ads team that this thesis will hold true. Amazon only wants behavior that will push a shopper into their highly performant funnel so as to drive conversion on or within the Amazon app. This strategy will lead to an ever-growing, self-serving efficiency, bringing more and more shoppers into the belly of the orange beast. Centralize time, centralize consumer attention, centralize value. Mitigate brands’ value, extract margins, commoditize brands’ value, rinse and repeat — these are the systems that uphold Amazon.

Now to the patent… I’ve never been able to look at shopping and the broader retail landscape from any perspective other than through the eyes of the Brands producing the products we love.

When we raised the capital to launch Corp in 2014. The idea was brand data liberation. Capture the brand’s attention by unlocking their siloed data, constrained to the enterprise ERP or eCommerce platform, and let it lose. Let their product data move more efficiently into marketing environments experiences or social channels. This was the idea. Sync, unhinge, unlock and ultimately decentralize a brand’s product data to enable the opportunities to connect directly to shoppers regardless of the environment.

You see, the last statement is the lynchpin in our thinking. It was the genius and ultimately our greatest challenge. We wanted to allow brands to connect directly with the shoppers. The fucking product discovery and product conversion ecosystem weren’t having that. Owning the brand’s product journey, from the moment of a shopper’s initial discovery through purchase, has propped up the household tech brands we all know. Consuming data about the performance of a product, interest in search or social environments, and cataloging the upsells and return rates from marketplaces are only a sliver of the centralization tactics that technology incumbents leverage against brands and shoppers.

Again — Back to the patent. We knew centralization wouldn’t last. We knew that there would be a model shopping experience, or marketplace that would want to exist and transcend beyond the confines of its own digitally walled garden. We had no clue that it would take rearchitecting the entire shopping ecosystem to do it.

With EVERY’s consuming of previous ‘ Corp’ assets, we are excited for the decentralization and distribution of commerce to be resting within EVERY’s Intellectual Property.

US 20150278931 A1 : “Native eCommerce Transactables for Familiar User Environments”

Native e-commerce transactable for social and other familiar and/or suitable user environments are enabled. A user of a network site may interact with a transactable to conduct a transaction with a 3rd party without leaving a user environment of the network site. The transactable may be configured to adopt the “look and feel” of the network site into which it is incorporated. While conducting the transaction with the transactable, the user may perceive that they remain at the network site, even though transaction information may be exchanged with a 3rd party network site. The transaction mediation service may obtain social activity data from a plurality of social network sites, as well as merchant activity data (e.g., transaction activity) from a plurality of merchant network sites. The data of each suitable network site may be translated, transformed and/or normalized into a unified and uniform format maintained by the transaction mediation service.