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.


Let’s Talk Software Governance

Whether it’s thinking about the roadmap for an open-sourced project or how a cooperative of constituents and their custodians come together, governance has been a pinnacle aspect of our thinking in setting the foundation for EVERY and the greater ecosystem. We researched many models that could potentially bring us closer to providing a system of self-governance, and in doing so, we solidified our intent to establish specific pillars to create the right incentive structures that are aligned with the underlying philosophy of the blockchain community. What that translates to is the proclamation that the interactions between Brands and Shoppers are pinnacle to EVERY governance and creating the space for them to contribute insights and proposals in guiding that governance is paramount.

We’ve engineered exciting initial rules of engagement for Brands and Shoppers, and have aligned them around the fundamental framework of equitable value exchanges. In a democracy where every Brand and every Shopper has a standalone vote, Co-op Members will be able to come together and collaborate. As custodians, our job is to make it easy, informative, and fun while incentivizing members to participate in determining how the EVERY Protocol, the EVERY Token, and their associated funds and value, respectively, will move forward.

The way that we’ve put this together is a very holistic, intricate, and thoughtful piece of EVERY as a whole. The manner in which EVERY governance will interact with software, people, and processes, will demonstrate a level of authenticity between members, technology and the way their interactions are organized. A fully centralized or a non-distributed governance structure doesn’t match with a distributed piece of software. We could build a typical corporation, throw an archaic model on top of a distributed ecosystem, but not only is that illogical, it goes against the fundamental tenets of the ecosystem we’ve set out to build.

Putting in place strong governance from the outset is so important to EVERY because we’re building something ambitious and we want break the status quo. Our governance system will need to be built to empower and enforce our ability to help Brands, Shoppers, and third party marketplace developers to express their wants, needs, and current pain-points so that others in the ecosystem can respond and adapt. Bringing together these different viewpoints and perspectives to create a more harmonious ecosystem while leveraging the blockchain will require a newfound approach. Our governance system will also need to enable an ever-changing ecosystem and protocol in order to help unlock the mechanisms that enable the ecosystem to organically refine, optimize, and grow more efficient for everybody involved.


Originally published at medium.com on February 12, 2018.