How Blockchain is Changing The Face of E-Commerce
Anyone who has been paying attention knows that the face of retail is changing. Old line retailers are falling by the wayside as consumers increasingly turn to the internet for the items they need. Experts predict that the disruption of the retail industry will only accelerate as the 21st century continues, but even e-commerce is not immune from the changes.
As the number of online purchases increases and the level of competition ramps up, e-commerce operators are looking for a competitive advantage – something that can set them apart from their peers and bring more business their way.
Many online retailers are exploring how blockchain, the technology behind popular cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Litecoin and Ethereum, can help them lower their costs and serve their customers more effectively. As the power of the blockchain, a type of distributed ledger renowned for its security and privacy, proves itself, more and more e-commerce retailers are likely to jump onboard. Here are some of the ways blockchain technology is already transforming the world of online commerce.
The Elimination of the Middleman
Blockchain technology has the power to transform more than the world of e-commerce. Indeed, any business that serves as a middleman between buyer and seller should be very worried about this emerging technology.
Through the use of cryptocurrency, blockchain has the power to completely eliminate the middleman from the buying process. With blockchain technology, a buyer can transfer the purchase price directly from their bank account or cryptocurrency wallet, and that is bad news for the likes of Visa, MasterCard and American Express.
Speedier and Simpler Returns
If there is one big downside to e-commerce transactions, it is the uncertainty of returns. Some online retailers make it very difficult to return unwanted products or incorrect shipments, and that can leave their customers frustrated.
Blockchain technology could make future returns easier while protecting both buyers and sellers. Since every purchase transaction is permanently written on the blockchain, verification will be easy, so retailers can accept returns quickly and process refunds without fear of fraud or worries about losing money.
E-commerce transactions may begin and end online, but they come with a real-world counterpart. Every online purchase, no matter how large or small, must arrive through the shipping process.
Already the volume of shipping is straining the likes of FedEx, UPS and the United States Post Office, and there have already been some complaints. From packages arriving at the wrong doorsteps to purchases being swiped by so-called porch pirates, these challenges are growing with every passing day.
Thanks to the power of the blockchain, e-commerce companies could soon experience greater levels of accuracy, with far fewer problems than exist today. Customers could receive a unique code when their purchases are shipped, one that allows them to track their boxes from the point of origin to their front door.
Prevention of Counterfeiting and the Protection of Intellectual Property
Intellectual property theft and the counterfeiting of designer goods has become an enormous problem, one made worse by the emergence of e-commerce. These days, fake designer purchases and phony Rolex watches are found not only on the streets of big cities but the back alleys of the internet as well.
Designers and the owners of intellectual property have been fighting the scourge of unchecked counterfeiting and rampant IP theft for many years, but they could soon get some unexpected help.
The permanence of the blockchain, combined with its security, could soon protect intellectual property creators and the owners of designer brands. Thanks to this technology, a designer could register their new creation on the blockchain, and it would stay their forever. Proving ownership of that design would be a simple matter, thwarting sellers of counterfeit goods and shutting down the theft of intellectual property.
Blockchain technology is already changing the world, and those changes do not end with the use of cryptocurrencies. While cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin get all the press, there is much more to blockchain technology than these alternative forms of payment. Anyone who operates in the e-commerce space, from online retailers large and small to payment processors like Visa and MasterCard, should be paying close attention to the blockchain as the 21st century unfolds.