The challenge of modern retail can be wrapped up in one statistic: 56% of consumers would likely shop at a retailer if they offer an omnichannel experience, but only 7% of retailers actually offer that capability, according to research from Boston Retail Partners.
Most of today’s supply chains are siloed, linear, inflexible and reactive. They suffer from poor connectivity and fragmented data, causing inaccurate supply planning and inventory distribution.
Bottom line: Retailers are struggling to create the kind of seamless omnichannel experience consumers crave. The fundamental challenge is predicting and respond to changes in demand across channels. However, modern technology now offers a cutting-edge solution: Blockchain.
Blockchain is a shared business reality where multiple partners drive mutual accountability, trust and transparency across the entire supply chain. The chain is connected digitally, allowing each part to drive growth for the whole. Sounds impossible?
Pratik Soni, CEO of Omnichain Solutions, and Stephen Davis, CEO of Ruby Rockets, broke down the real-world benefits blockchain is creating for retailers at Ecommerce Operations Summit 2019. Here are some of the insights and best practices they shared.
From a Linear, Reactive Supply Chain to a Holistic, Proactive Model
Instead of focusing on solving problems after they arise, imagine a team that prevents problems before they even happen. A holistic model promotes communication and transparency across the supply chain, allowing for lightning-quick decision making and the ability to forecast problems.
When you’re up against the challenges of omnichannel consumer demand, you need a flexible, efficient supply chain to stay on top of the game.
4 Ways Blockchain Can Improve Your Supply Chain
- Consensus-based: all participants need to agree that a transaction is valid, making sell-through easier to manage and predict while boosting collaboration
- Providence: All partners know the origin and movement of a product over time. This data layer allows you to make faster, more informed decisions across your supply chain.
- Immutability: If an error is made, it can’t be hidden or deleted, improving accountability and transparency for all partners
- Formality: It’s simple to determine the ownership and lineage of each product, allowing for complete control of assets throughout the process
Blockchain is also surprisingly easy to get started with. Many people see it as sort of a black hole technology, but in fact it’s quite simple and easy to integrate into your existing tech stack.
Pair Blockchain with Instagram to Forecast Changing Demand
Instagram has launched a direct, in-app product purchasing feature. Blockchain enables you to track engagement around your products to anticipate regional surges in demand. You can then proactively shift inventory before the orders even start coming in.
You may be thinking this technology sounds too extreme, but if you’re not using it your competitors soon will be.
Showcase Your Newfound Transparency with Customers
Ruby Rockets is an organic foods company. With its new supply chain, the company can show customers their exact product journey, from farm to shelf. If transparency is a core value, integrate insights from this technology into your marketing to boost brand awareness.
As any small company will tell you, the challenge of manually managing a supply chain is overwhelming. Davis estimated that switching to a new blockchain-based model has boosted productivity 20% while decreasing Ruby Rockets’ order-to-cash (OTC) cycle 15% after only six months.
4 Questions to Ask Before Implementing Blockchain:
- Are you ready? Any company will benefit from real-time data, but do you actually have the capacity to turn that tsunami of data into actionable insights?
- Do you trust your global supply chain partners? If you don’t, can technology drive that trust?
- Are you managing your business reactively or proactively?
- Do the benefits of a connected supply chain align with your long-term objectives?