The Blockchain, much more than cryptocurrencies, is bound to take retail by storm, affecting the whole supply chain down to delivery. It is therefore no surprise that some of the biggest brands are implementing a series of ambitious projects based on the Distributed Ledger technology. The target is to improve the service provided both internally and externally and to offer customers more efficiency and higher quality. First of all, the implementation of fraud prevention systems which, especially, in the food industry, are crucial to make sure what ends up on the consumers’ tables is exactly what they have paid for, that is to say, to prevent further “Tesco cases” (Horsemeat scandal: Tesco reveals 60% content in dish) from occurring again. A relevant damage to brand image, indeed.
This is one of the several reasons why Walmart and Nestlé have set up partnerships with IBM to develop a Blockchain based software, allowing all suppliers to provide and record the basic data concerning every food at any point of the supply chain. As a matter of fact, currently, everybody taking part in the production, from farmers to packaging companies, wholesalers and retailers, tends to keep data confidential. And in case a problem such as contamination arises, tracking the culprit is always quite hard. Full traceability then, should push all the individuals involved to be more responsible, allow recall campaigns involving the faulty products to be launched and, at the same time, increase customers’ trust in the system (How Walmart, Alibaba, and Others are Shaking Up Retail With Blockchain).
In order to tackle the problem of food substitution, one of the most widespread frauds based on exchanging high quality products with low cost ones, even retailing giant Alibaba is resorting to the Blokchain. In partnership with four Australian and New Zealand companies, they are creating a product tag equipped with a QR code, which will allow products to be tracked by means of an open ledger which will be accessible also to customers via smartphone (Alibaba Ups Food Safety Down Under via Blockchain).
In order to consistently improve maritime transports of goods ( involving 90% of global commercial exchanges ), then, Maersk, a giant container shipping company , in joint venture with IBM, is currently testing a Distributed Ledger platform aimed to perform various tasks : real time provision of shipment data to all participants (road haulage companies, maritime transporters, ports, customs agents etc), digitalization and automation of paperwork, speeding up of practices and mistakes reduction. Considering the fact that transport costs account for one fifth of the goods value, if the Blockchain meets such expectations, in the future we will be able to take advantage of safer and cheaper goods.
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