The retail landscape is changing rapidly. Established retail chains are disappearing, and companies that previously existed only online are moving into storefronts. In this uncertain environment, blockchain-powered geolocation technology offers retailers many advantages.
Marketing: The most obvious use case for geolocation data is in marketing, as geofencing and beacons let marketers deliver communications to a precise audience. Geofencing lets retailers deliver messaging within a specific area, such as a neighborhood or a city block. When a customer enters the area, the GPS location transmitted by their mobile device triggers the delivery of a precisely targeted and individual communication. Local marketing like this can be effective in generating traffic at physical stores. And because it can integrate the online and bricks-and-mortar retail streams, allowing a seamless transition between making a purchase online and picking up a product in a nearby physical store, local marketing can also be used to improve the overall customer experience. Beacons are even more precise, since they depend on location data delivered using Bluetooth technology. Beacons allow retailers to track customers’ movements within a store. This sets up an opportunity to deliver micro-moment marketing: campaigns designed to catch an individual’s attention at the very moment they are standing in front of a product.
Rewards: Blockchain-powered virtual objects, such as those powered by Geon.network, give retailers an opportunity to generate personalized customer interactions. When customers interact with a Geon by making a purchase, they receive rewards from the retailer. Retailers can also use Geon.network’s smart contracts to program rewards to be granted when customers complete a wide range of actions. These might include looking for specific products online, visiting a retail location frequently, completing a survey, or sharing their data. Blockchain-based rewards also make it possible for manufacturers to interact directly with consumers, using token-based rewards that can be redeemed at any retailer.
Data collection: Data about customers, such as where they live, the products they buy, and the products they think about buying, is extremely valuable. Even if a customer doesn’t directly share their address, the GPS, Wi-Fi and cellular data on mobile devices constantly generate information. Home and work addresses may be inferred based on how long a phone is stationary at certain times of the day. These technologies also share information about the apps installed on mobile devices, and the content viewed on those devices. This data is regularly shared with marketing companies. Geolocation data can also be used to deliver marketing messages based on consumer habits. Going to the gym daily, for example, might trigger targeted ads from a health food store, or from a retailer that sells workout apparel.
Data collection can also be used on a much larger level. In 2017, Thasos Group established that Whole Foods saw a 17% increase in traffic after its parent company Amazon announced that it was lowering prices. Thasos used distributed computing and machine intelligence to assess this geolocation data, and identified Trader Joe’s as the competitor that lost the largest share of customers to Whole Foods.
Asset tracking, inventory management and supply chain management: Asset tracking and inventory management can be linked to smart contracts. This lets location-based product management operate in real time. Retailers will be able to optimize just-in-time delivery and locate inventory with a high degree of accuracy. In addition to providing an enhanced retail experience through more precise inventory management, the cost savings realized by using this technology can be passed on to consumers. Asset tracking using beacons lets retailers track merchandise with a high degree of precision. This is useful in stockroom and warehouse management. It also has possibilities for retail in providing precise item location data to consumers. Another technology that can benefit retailers is RFID, which can be used for selective object identification. This can even be used for employee tracking, which can have benefits for HR management. Placing supply chain data on the blockchain also has many possible benefits for retailers. When production records are indelible and transparent, opportunities for counterfeiters are reduced, and product quality and safety can be enhanced. Finally, as both retailers and consumers pay more attention to inefficiencies and waste, there is growing interest in limiting the distance that products travel. For retailers, local producers may represent a new way to keep shelves full. For consumers, this represents an opportunity to make choices that benefit the environment as well as their local communities.
These are just a few of the ways that geolocation data, powered by blockchain technology, is changing the retail landscape. And because they all offer an opportunity to improve the customer experience, it is highly likely that retailers will look for additional opportunities to use this technology going forward.