Blockchain for Omnichannel Supply Chains

BlockchainWhether it’s IBM finding new industries to target, or the industries themselves looking for ways to integrate this revolutionary digital ledger into their day-to-day, blockchain is getting a lot of press recently. A growing conversation in the logistics and retail world is how blockchain for omnichannel supply chains will work – or if it has a future in the retail supply chain? To be honest – blockchain solutions are tailor-made for the omnichannel retail segment.

Let’s dig deep into some of the possible solutions blockchain can deliver retailers utilizing omnichannel marketing platforms.

First, here is a little refresher. Blockchain is the technology that is at the heart of cryptocurrency or digital currently like Bitcoin. It’s essentially a digital ledger of every transaction that is completed online so that everyone involved in the transaction is 100% aware of who sold what to whom – and what is the value of the currency. Omnichannel is an amazing marketing buzz-term for the platform of choice for a consumer to purchase items. For example, if you shop from a major retailer, they offer multiple points of purchase such as a brick and mortar location or eCommerce solutions. However, consumers also have multiple ways to purchase these items from shopping at the store to buying from mobile devices, pick-up lockers and more.

So how do these two different items fit together – or what does the future hold for blockchain and omnichannel? Well, like any other technology solution, they are often integrated to solve a problem that exists in any industry. For omnichannel, the main issue is keeping track of orders and inventory by an Order Management System. While these systems are quite capable of doing the job – there are multiple holes in these older software programs.

• They are costly to upgrade and maintain.
• They depend on a central clearinghouse to keep track of the activity throughout the network.
• They can slow down, and cause delays.

Blockchain solutions are cloud-based – which removes the need for onsite storage and bandwidth that current Order Management Systems require. However, it’s possible to create an OMS that is based on blockchain technology.

How Can Blockchain Help Omnichannel?

The best way that blockchain can assist retailers and other utilizing omnichannel solutions is by integrating the technology into their OMS. Here are a few specific ways.

• Blockchain solutions are private or permission systems – meaning that they can only be accessed by authorized users. Trust is established by all parties since everybody can see the actions of all parties.
• Data is distributed without the need for a central clearinghouse. It is comprised of multiple Blockchain nodes, each of them with a complete copy of data entries, inventory, orders, shipping information and more. All accessible through the cloud an at any time.
• It’s a scalable platform. Omnichannel providers can increase blockchain solutions to meet demand. For example – during cyber Monday additional blockchain nodes can be spread through the network to limit mistakes and improve performance.
• It’s quick and synchronized. The nodes used in blockchain technology use a consensus mechanism to permit synchronization and to improve speed.

Essentially, the blockchain technology expedites all aspects of the Order Management System used by many retailers that utilize omnichannel platforms. It reduces the need for deleting files, increases bandwidth, improves the customer experience, reduces shipping mistakes, and improves transparency throughout the supply chain.