Practical applications of blockchain in Retail


Blockchain technology is poised to fundamentally alter the retail industry. Yet, many retailers have not taken the steps necessary to understand how the technology can help their business and what will be required to embrace blockchain thinking and technology. Retailers should begin collaborating with external stakeholders and partners on joint projects to stress-test how and where blockchain’s distributed ledger and shared infrastructure, in combination with smart contracts, can fit into their businesses. Retailers that move aggressively will enjoy an early advantage by converting analog and labor-intensive tasks into digitally-automated processes. To understand how retail organizations view blockchain, we conducted a global survey of 321 retail professionals on how they expect blockchain to impact their industry and the preparatory steps their organizations are taking (see Methodology, page 24). Respondents told us that blockchain has the potential to reinvent and in some cases obviate key business functions throughout their organizations, bringing greater trust and security to how they interact and transact across the extended value chain. Blockchain’s business fit is seemingly endless, spanning supply chain management, accounting and audit, and related account management processes. By enabling tighter collaboration, blockchain could improve supply chain visibility, which would enhance sales forecasting and inventory control while also establishing product Retail: Opening the Doors to Blockchain | 3 Digital Systems & Technology provenance and authenticity. Eliminating the need for redundant management systems and databases across organizations and business partners would increase operational efficiency and reduce costs. Transaction settlement would also become faster and cheaper. Blockchain’s strong built-in encryption could also improve data security and mitigate corruption. While banks and financial services firms have worked on blockchain applications for several years, the potential of the technology to transform numerous business processes across industries is becoming increasingly apparent. Moreover, the recent raft of successful pilots in the financial services space1 should give retailers the confidence to step forward and assess not only how they can leverage blockchain technology but also the additional expertise they will need to succeed. A first step is for retailers to educate themselves on the nature of blockchain technology and its value for retail operations. They can start by identifying the business processes for which blockchain could help streamline operations. Special attention should be paid to the supply chain, where a blockchain-enabled network can streamline the duplicative record-keeping and databases currently maintained by organizations and their suppliers and distribution partners. For each business process, retail executives should ask themselves whether a blockchain-enabled process would be optimal if they were starting from scratch.

Solution Providers applying Blockchain for Retail



We believe in the potential of blockchain technology to improve anti-counterfeit measures in different industries and have a significant positive social impact


Project Provenance

Powered by mobile, blockchain and open data, our game-changing software enables retailers and producers to open product data, track the journey of goods, and empower customers with access to knowledge.



Everledger is a global startup that uses the best of emerging technology including blockchain, smart contracts and machine vision to assist in the reduction of risk and fraud for banks, insurers and open marketplaces.