The future of eCommerce is with blockchain

If you have not heard about blockchain then here is a primer, otherwise skip to What’s Next below.

Blockchain is a trust protocol and one of the first implementations is BitCoin, where each bitcoin is has its entire owner history reference stored with it. Think of it as an absolute proof of exactly where the money came from and you can only use it if the history is correct. And to make it more cool, its stored all over the place – kind of like a global spreadsheet or ledger (link). This means its virtually impossible to spoof or cheat the system.  Bitcoin Core checks each block of transactions it receives to ensure that everything in that block is fully valid—allowing it to trust the block without trusting the miner who created it (link).

 

What’s Next for eCommerce?

Now imagine going to your favorite online grocery store and buying a steak for pick up. With a BlockChain implementation of the catalog you could actually see where that beef has been for its entire history, with dates and all. Imagine, if everyone used the currency throughout the life of the beef this would actually be pretty simple to show; because along each transaction belongs the previous state of the merchandise.  The Blockchain Revolution as described in the book with the same name by Don TapScott and Alex Tapscott will be a big game changer in many industries and including eCommerce. Let’s take a grocery store as an example. If that grocery store gets with the district butcher and agrees to use a block chain currency, they could track the beef along the way. The butcher would then do the same with the farmer, however, that transaction is most likely the sale of a cow. So each time the cow is cut up it would be tracked with a base transaction – ie. the sale of the cow.

Take a look at this diagram to get a picture what a block chain would look like:

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 10.56.16 PM

Each beef steak in the store would have a linked history all the way back to the farm.  So an eCommerce screen like this below is not as far fetched as you think:

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 10.59.46 PM

 

The same could go for retail. You would not only be able to see where your shirt came from but even the material that makes the shirt. This example could go pretty deep with the supply chain of each piece of material used to construct the shirt.

Think about this for all industries. Every single transaction can be completely verified. If you think this is a pretty interesting piece of technology then I recommend you read Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin Is Changing Money, Business, and the World.

8 thoughts on “The future of eCommerce is with blockchain

  1. Nice article, one would really be interested know where the money comes from (as what you have mentioned about BItCoin) but I wonder if someone would really want their customers to know where their goods come from, then we don’t need a “Brand”, value of goods will obviously go down, if things become this transparent, you can calculate the cost of manufacturing a product and I believe you will have to sell the product without a profit. It indeed makes sense oh letting customers know how the product is manufactured, the complexity involved resulting the end quality product.

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  2. I do not think this will work in retail. Why should a retail chain reveal its source to its competitors? A lot of problems arise from that. Transparency is good for bitcoin but not for retail.

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  3. Interesting thoughts. Verifiable provenance has certainly become increasingly important, although blending physical and digital may be challenging. Immutable traceability in a supply chain where participants have no malign intent has value. But could this have helped prevent the widespread intentional and deceptive contamination of beef products that occurred leading to the horsemeat scandal uncovered in Europe in 2013, or China’s notorious toxic baby milk scandal? Enforcement through robust testing of samples by regulatory bodies will still be needed wherever humans are involved unfortunately.

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  4. I beg to differ on the usage of blockchain for the example given. Perhaps it could be more meaningful in case of selling old art items and others where the authenticity of the article may be needed.

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  5. Excellent concept! Especially if a company’s branding is ethical and transparency.
    As for competition, it depends an factors…is it a exclusive B2B relationship?
    Also, what are the consumers rights? Couldn’t the consumer just ask the business selling meat where he/she sourced it?

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  6. Hello Bob,

    Great Article..With perfect examples. I think the concept of using Blockchain in Retail Industry is much helpful to the regulatory sector like FDA (USA) /FSSAI (India) where they can track the origin, ingredients used for a food product. It also helps the businesses to track the expiring goods and try to use the goods before they expire, thus reducing the food wastage.

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