The way we shop today is dramatically different to the way we shopped ten years ago. Popular platforms like Amazon and eBay have completely shaken up the way we buy goods, taking us from delayed gratification to the click-to-buy and next-day-delivery phenomena.

The convenience of eCommerce is just one of the benefits of online shopping websites; not to mention the low prices and the sheer amount of options we now have.

Want a red duffel coat with black toggles and a sheepskin-lined hood? No problem, just put that in the search bar and voila.

But where does the eCommerce world go from here? If it’s expanded and evolved this much in the last ten years, what’s next?

Media forecasts predict that, by 2021, the US online retail market will hit $1.2 trillion. With this kind of exponential growth there will inevitably be teething problems, some of which have already started to surface.

This is where blockchain is making an appearance.

Remember here that, although it’s commonly associated with cryptocurrency, blockchain is not just about money. Yes, it does allow fast and safe transactions (something that will be a clear benefit for the eCommerce world), but it also offers so much more than that.

How Blockchain Will Change the eCommerce World

First of all, let’s look at the most common issues the eCommerce world faces on a daily basis.

  1. Trust

Giving out their card details online (which is basically a black abyss) is a lot of people’s worst nightmare.

I remember my mom didn’t buy anything online until a couple of years ago, and instead would insist on calling up the company and paying over the phone via a “real person.”

When you add into the mix the fact that most sellers use an intermediary company to process and log transactions, you have even more reason for cyber-shy people to be skeptical.

These days, most intermediary companies are well-trusted, but that comes at a hefty price for retailers. Sure, the transactions are completed faithfully, but it can be costly as these companies tend to charge the seller or buyer a fee to maintain their payment ledger.

  1. Slow Transactions

How many times have you needed a next-day delivery only to find out that the product can’t be shipped for days or even weeks?

Features like Amazon Prime have helped ease this concern, but many online stores still take their sweet time getting deliveries out – and for good reason.

The supply chain is an intricate thing made up of many different steps. There’s tendering, ordering, tracking shipment, delivery confirmation, and then any necessary chargebacks. Every step adds an additional complication to the entire transaction which, in turn, slows down the process.

  1. Frauds

This is the one my mom was most concerned with back in the day.

Fraudulent activity is actually one of the biggest problems in the eCommerce world. We’re talking counterfeit products or products that are misrepresented here (because we all know how easy it is to take a photo and edit it to within an inch of its life).

As a result, companies can quickly become tarnished, especially with the ease in which people can leave online reviews all over the internet today.

  1. Additional Costs

One positive of the eCommerce world is that most online retailers accept a wide variety of different payment methods so shoppers can choose their personal favorite.

However, this also has a downside. During the payment process (whether that’s carried out by credit card, debit card, bank transfer, or mobile wallet), every step incurs a fee from the seller or buyer to cover the costs of the extra step.

Blockchain and ecommerce

This is Where Blockchain Will Save the Day…

Because the introduction of blockchain in the eCommerce sphere will mean the industry works from decentralized marketplaces, costs will be lower and quality will have to be more consistent.

At the moment, giants like Amazon and eBay are completely monopolizing the market but all that could change once blockchain becomes the norm.

While this is all still hypothetical (we haven’t seen any blockchain projects that directly tackle the current issues the eCommerce industry faces), it could cause big and necessary disruption to one of the most profitable industries in the world.

So What Could Blockchain Bring to the eCommerce World?

  1. Safe and Easy Payments

Blockchain technology was made for financial transactions.

It’s geared towards providing automated and easy payment methods while also providing excellent security standards and low costs for carrying out said financial transactions.

This could mean the end of additional costs for different payment methods and added security for each transaction.

  1. Smoother Supply Chains

I spoke earlier about the clunky and often lengthy supply chains of eCommerce brands. However, blockchain technology has the power to make the visualizations of supply chains more honest and transparent.

When it has reached a high level of adoption, we’ll be able to clearly see the entire chain of events of a product with a single click. This means we’ll also be able to quickly and easily see whether the product is fair-trade, authentic, or contains questionable chemicals – all in the name of openness and transparency.

  1. Improved Data Security

Lastly, the introduction of blockchain into the eCommerce world will mean that data storage will be decentralized.

At the moment, all data is stored in one singular, central place and controlled by a singular, central party.

This means the data is vulnerable to hackers and cybercriminals. With blockchain, however, these criminals will only be able to hack individual parts of information rather than the blockchain as a whole, so it will be significantly harder for them to access the information they want.

Looking Ahead to the Future of eCommerce and Blockchain

It’s safe to say that if (and, more likely, when) blockchain becomes a central figure in the eCommerce world, things will change.

For so long, big players like Amazon and eBay have sat comfortably at the top of the food chain, but all that could change when we decentralize the online shopping process.

As well as helping to lower costs, eliminate pricing transaction fees, and create a safer place for data to be stored, blockchain gives smaller, more technologically advanced marketplaces the chance to step up and take center stage.