You’ve surely heard of blockchain, even if you’re not entirely (or even slightly) sure what it really means. It’s a thrilling new technology with near-limitless applications! It’s going to transform the world of business, and even the world in general! Well, the truth of the matter is that many of the people who are so eager to hype it up don’t really understand what it involves.
Make no mistake: I’m no blockchain expert (those are rare). I’m simply sufficiently informed to know what I do and don’t know, with the latter area being a richer vein to mine. All over the world, business owners are panicking about the threats and possibilities ostensibly stemming from blockchain, and e-commerce merchants in particular are driven to distraction.
Why? Because it’s hard to compete in e-commerce, and you need every tool and technological standard at your disposal to get ahead. If you’re working in e-commerce, then you no doubt want to know how to prepare for a blockchain-driven future. Allow me to explain:
Consider accepting cryptocurrency payments
The most notable way in which the advent of blockchain can affect your store concerns how you accept payments, because Bitcoin (the cryptocurrency for which blockchain technology was created) is steadily growing in viability as an everyday payment option. If it’s something you think your customers might want to use, you should think about accepting Bitcoin.
Some e-commerce systems natively accept Bitcoins through their default gateways — Shopify was among the first to do so — so that’s an option if you’re running your store on such a system. Alternatively, you could use a plugin, add-on or extension to configure an integration with a Bitcoin-supporting third-party payment gateway.
Beyond that, you need to advertise that you’re accepting Bitcoin payments, as it might draw in some people who are wary of fiat currency. Display it prominently on your homepage so that no one can miss it, and perhaps write some blog posts about Bitcoin to earn some search rankings.
Start following relevant blogs
Part of keeping up with how blockchain can affect your store is simply doing some reading on a regular basis, and for this, you should start following relevant blogs. If you’re not checking this one frequently, for instance, you should change that: there’s an entire section on blockchain tech with interesting takeaways about how the industry is changing.
If those blogs are too tech-heavy for you, you can still pick up some useful insights from following regular e-commerce blogs. Whenever any major innovations come along, people will surely make accessible guides about them, so you can follow along at your own pace.
Don’t give it too much thought
At this point, at least, you don’t really need to give blockchain technology too much thought. It may have a lot of potential, but so much of it is still hypothetical, and when it’s implemented more widely it’ll be a background concern that infiltrates the foundation of your software system without really needing you to do anything.
The two things you can do, as noted, are start accepting Bitcoin payments (and letting people know what you’re open to cryptocurrencies) and add relevant blogs to your regular reading. Otherwise, there’s no major reason to worry about it, or even think about it. Just relax.
Micro Startups is a business community that celebrates inspiring startups and small businesses of all shapes and sizes. Whether you’re a solopreneur or a hustling startup, Micro Startups has you covered. Find us on Twitter for the latest micro biz news and inspiring entrepreneurial stories @getmicrostarted.