Re-trail – Find your store !


Over the last two decades, and in particular over the last two years, many businesses have emanated from the digital realm. While sticking to an online business model has presented many benefits, some businesses have experienced how the absence of a physical realm can be problematic. Businesses in the retail and hospitality sector, specifically, have witnessed how having a space for business operations can be crucial for transactions, marketing, and customer engagement. While physical space may be desirable, it is certainly expensive. Rent prices for retail space in cities everywhere in Europe have increased exponentially, in turn, leading to a significant surge in vacancy. It therefore comes to no surprise that local (online) businesses are rarely able to single-handedly afford rent for retail space. 

The aforementioned trends call for an intervention that (1) presents the possibility for local (online) businesses to execute (part of) their business activities on site; and (2) presents a higher guarantee for retail space owners to rent out their property at a market price. Re-trail – Find your Store is a project that does just that. Ret-trail is a – blockchain technology supported – platform for local (online) businesses to, collectively, gain part-time and/or short-term leasing contracts with (one or more) retail shop owners. Together, small businesses share the retail space by alternating turns, and cumulatively pay the rent to the owner. Through the platform, retail shop owners are ensured of rent income, while giving (online) local businesses exposure and helping them to get integrated in the urban economical landscape.

The platform knows four different stakeholders – all of whom interact with each other (directly or indirectly) through blockchain technology. Local (online) businesses, retail shop owners, consumers, and government bodies are linked to the blockchain and issue tokens to one another to gain eligibility for participation, to pay and receive deposit fees, rent, and tax, as well as to issue loyalty programs. The tokens that are issued range from utility tokens and payment tokens, to asset tokens and reward tokens. Additionally, other operations such as signing contracts and rental agreements, as well as inventorizing customer data are facilitated by the blockchain. The transactions and operations on the blockchain are further explained below.

The two main beneficiaries of the Re-trail platform are the local (online) businesses and the retail shop owners. In order to be eligible to sign up for the platform, both parties must show proof of being a legitimate and profitable (online) business (e.g. revenue / profit statement), and of owning a physical storefront (e.g. property title) respectively. Following approval, the local (online) business will receive a utility token, and the retail space owner an asset token. With these tokens, it is now possible to rent and to rent out retail space. Importantly, to rent out a retail space, a minimum amount of hours needs to be met per month – a minimum of 24 hours, distributed to the liking of the local (online) business. 

Following the agreement between the verified local (online) business and the retail space owner concerning the hours and duration of the lease, a smart contract is signed, and the space booked using payment tokens (1 Re-coin = €1). These tokens are used to pay the hours booked as well as the deposit (amounting up to two weeks rent). Both payments are stored in the GNOSIS safe until the end of the rental period. Upon inspection of the premises, the tokens are released from the safe – the rent is issued to the retail shop owner, and the deposit returned to the local (online) business. Importantly, rental property taxes are directly deducted from the rent and issued to national government and local authorities. Following all transactions, the tokens can be converted into Fiat currency using nationalized banks, Re-coin ATMs, or crypto-exchange platforms.

The drivers of the success of the platform are of course the consumers. Through blockchain technology the Re-trail facilitates many attempts to retain, and increase potential value of existing customers. To gain purchasing benefits, customers are invited to get a membership with a local (online) business of their choice. By signing a smart contract they agree to make a set amount of purchases from the local (online) business in order to receive a loyalty program. As part of the loyalty program, customers receive a set of reward tokens which can be used for discounts and vouchers when making purchases at the local (online) business with whom the smart contract was signed. Regular purchases are made using the same payment tokens (Re-coins) described in the section above. Noteworthy, currency top-ups can only be done in sets of 10 Re-Coins. 

Re-trail – Find your store  is a project of IAAC, Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia developed in the Master in City & Technology 2021/22 by Students: Kriti Nirmal and Lucas Zarzoso Hueck and Faculty: Lluisa Marsal