You may have heard the term “blockchain” this year mentioned in many different ways.
What is it?
The blockchain is a new technology that many people say will transform how many of us do business together. Think back to before the internet came along, how people were speculating on the future of e-commerce.
Block-chainThe blockchain is a new technology that many people say will transform how many of us do business together.In its most basic form, a blockchain (formerly block chain), is a growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked together using cryptography. Once published, this information that can’t be changed or tampered with. Some people refer to it as a “public database.”
Here are some of the ways it will change the floral industry as we know it today:
The physical location of every grower and how many acres or hectares they planted will be easily searchable online.
Need a rose grower in Ecuador that has 6,000 yellow roses ready for harvest next week? This product information will soon be online and easily searchable in a few years using blockchain technology.
Growers will be able to share what they planted, when it was harvested, when it was boxed, and how it shipped, with great detail for all buyers to see anywhere in the world.
Just like you can’t hide a farm from a satellite image, you won’t be able to hide what is growing in the field anymore. This will be public information down the road just like Google street-level view is now.
Not sure what day the grower cut and boxed those flowers coming your way? This data will be transparent to buyers in the future once it is published on the blockchain. Those growers that don’t choose to share this data will have less market share from major buyers.
Need a unique glass vase from China? Right now, that search process is a nightmare on Alibaba, one of the world’s most popular marketplaces for factory goods.
In the future, all known glass factories will be online in an easily searchable public database, maybe even the molds they have on hand also. This will make the product sourcing much easier for all glass buyers.
You may be able to pay the grower or factory with a digital token once the major financial institutions start to accept this as a standard form of currency. Bitcoin tokens exist today and are known the world over, but few people are using it in commerce for many reasons. Those reasons are going to go away over time as the technology keeps getting better and people have more confidence in these new forms of currency.
Remember, people initially refused to send documents over “email” when it first came out? It took a LONG time, but people finally gave up their fax machines. Sending secure documents over the internet is now the global standard for the most part.
The transaction costs for sending payments over the SWIFT network are going to go down dramatically for all involved when there are viable alternatives to how we pay suppliers globally. Right now, major banks control the flow of money across borders, that will also change as companies start to pay each other directly with digital tokens.
Not sure how much the farmer got paid on your last order? If they get paid with digital tokens, all the information will be trackable online using digital wallets. This may help ensure they were fairly compensated.
Keep in mind many farm workers in Africa are currently being paid in digital tokens by many companies because the local currency is too unreliable, unstable or has excessive transaction costs.
When a consumer buys a dozen roses in the future, there may be a QR code on the packaging that shows the exact farm they came from, what day the roses were cut and how it got to the final destination. No more guessing if you just bought three-day roses or ten-day roses.
All this information will make buyers far more informed. Buyers, producers and sellers will be sharing more and more information or risk being left behind.
Need a dozen lavender roses tonight? Real-time inventory data that is blockchain based may show you the name of every retailer that has those lavender roses and the physical locations where you can buy them. Just try that using Yelp today?
We can’t be sure how people will leverage blockchain data in so many different forms, but the changes will be profound regarding how growers sell and market their flowers and how buyers search, buy and ship those flowers worldwide.
The average grower in South America wastes anywhere from 5-40 percent of the weekly crop because he or she is unable to locate willing buyers worldwide.
That grower will directly benefit by publishing their product data on the blockchain, and also cut out the middleman by going straight to buyers, allowing them to capture more revenue per stem.
While those are just a few examples, we still don’t know how this new blockchain technology will fully evolve and we may not know for another decade or so.
Alex Frost works on leading-edge technology for flower companies worldwide as Founder and CEO of FloraChain. www.florachain.io