Bricks and mortar marketplaces powered by blockchain are definitely a thing

As a bricks and mortar retailer, your ultimate aim should be to convert as many customers as possible, out of the cohort of those that walk into your store. An understanding of consumer data points and subsequent offer personalisation would exponentially increase conversion, but an easy to access system that can be used by retailers has remained out of reach. This is less of an issue with online retailers, but given around 89% of spend remains with bricks and mortar retailers, it’s a problem well worth finding a solution for.

Universal Reward Protocol (URP) is a company that’s aiming to solve this problem, by bridging the gap between offline and online and provide a platform for retailers to engage with customers directly. This platform is built on the blockchain and powered by the URP token.

This is the way it would work:

  1. The shopper is rewarded with the URP tokens for sharing their personal data with a retailer, which could be data points such as a point of sale visit, their location, or their purchases.
  2. The URP token can then be redeemed back with the retailer to take advantage of offers or promotions, that have been tailored based on the data the shopper has already shared.

Retailers would have to purchase URP tokens in the first instance, before using them to reward shoppers.

The URP platform is also bolstered by geolocation and machine learning, thus allowing the data to be further analysed and profiled. It’s then accessible for retailers to customise offers to each shopper. What I especially like is that the blockchain layer actually allows for geolocation data to be publicly available, whilst more sensitive data (such as retailer-specific receipt data) will only be available to the retailer it originated from.

Under this model, it’s up to the retailer to determine what kind of data points would ultimately be best suited to them in order to increase conversion activity.

Whilst the platform is highly innovative and can absolutely deliver value to both parties in what I would call a bricks and mortar marketplace, there is some doubt in my mind around how much ongoing engagement there will be, because some challenges will have to be overcome, lest this platform suffer the same fate as many others before it.

On the retailer side

Simplicity: a platform such as this would need to be extremely simple to use, in terms of offer set-up and execution. Retailers are extremely time poor and anything too complex is more likely to be shelved.

Cashflow: URP tokens have to be bought on demand to avoid any pricing risk and settlement in those same URP tokens would have to be immediate and in fiat, again negating any possible risk to the retailer – otherwise there would be little incentive to use the platform.

On the shopper side

Regular use: without shoppers sharing their data consistently, the ecosystem would grind to a halt. There would need to be a strong incentive for ongoing use.

The expectation of the shopper: there are many statistics that show consumers are willing to share personal data, but only if it’s then used meaningfully. Let’s hope that offer personalisation is in fact spot on, otherwise shoppers could disengage in droves.


Max Savransky is Loyalty Director of Loyalty & Reward Co, a leading loyalty consulting firm based in Sydney. He has 10 years’ experience within the loyalty industry including roles at Mastercard Loyalty (Pinpoint), Silverneedle (Next & Sage Hotels) and Pureprofile. As Loyalty & CRM Manager at HOYTS, he launched the highly successful partnership with Qantas Frequent Flyer, including a world-first Qantas Points in-store redemption proposition. He is an active cryptocurrency trader.

Max regularly contributes to www.blockchainloyalty.io, a global resource centre for everything blockchain loyalty.
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