BlockChain Effects on Retail Sourcing & Supply Chain Traceability

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    Written by Eric Linxwiler, May, 14 2018

    My previous installment in this series, Blockchain and the Retail Supply Chain Management Software Opportunity, examined the numerous benefits Blockchain technology offers the Retail Supply Chain from a high-level perspective. The article highlighted collaboration, scalability, quality, compliance, and traceability across all tiers of the supply chain as potential positive impacts that Blockchain technology could have if properly utilized in the retail space. In this post, I will take a more in-depth look at traceability as one of the major opportunities presented by Blockchain, as well as what it means for the retail sourcing and end-to-end product lifecycle process in the supply chain.

    The recent RIS News article titled, “Unbreakable Trust: 5 Retailers Exploring Blockchain” explains why Blockchain vastly improves traceability in the retail space. The article states, “Blockchain is essentially an immutable, shared digital ledger for recording the history of transactions. In this permanent record of transactions each “block” is linked to the one before it, and secured with cryptography, making it resistant to tampering”. RIS News calls this secured ledger “The Unbreakable Trust”, and it paints a picture of a better future for retailers and consumers alike. In today’s Retail marketplace traceability is hard to come by. The continuity of information fades with each step of the retail process, and soon the chain of custody, and the buyer’s trust, are placed behind a convoluted maze of touchpoints and misinformation.

    Through Blockchain, product information accuracy, safety, fraud, and supply chain accounting can be positively impacted, which in turn will generate trust and transparency for retail consumers. Customers are becoming increasingly conscientious of where their products are coming from. “From furniture, luxury goods and general merchandise to food for consumption, Blockchain can power the verification of each product” (RIS News). With Blockchain software, communications between parties can be direct and instantaneous. This will lead to the identification and elimination of counterfeit goods, and allow product development, safety, and material issues to be tracked back to the source. Laurence Haziot, the global managing director and general manager for IBM Consumer Industries stated, “Crypto-anchors add trust to the last mile by extending the Blockchain platform into the realm of physical goods by embedding actual products with tamper-proof digital finger-prints”. The decentralized nature of these digital finger-prints further ensures the data’s integrity, as it would be impossible for any one party to hold ownership and manipulate said data.

    The new security measures offered by Blockchain software can be used to tackle many of the pressing issues related to retail sourcing and traceability that plague the retail industry. From the aforementioned problems of counterfeit goods and food safety to the confirmation of the authenticity of materials and parts; retailers with the foresight to adopt and implement this technology will gain many advantages over competitors. Cutting edge technology leaders such as CBX Software have worked hard to improve visibility and traceability across the retail supply chain by combining Product Lifecycle Management (Retail PLM) with the best retail sourcing software. CBX empowers retailers and multiple trading partners to collaborate and establish a single shared view of a unique product’s development process, including sourcing, quality, critical path, supplier compliance and supply chain transactions set without compromising details, privacy or confidentiality. For more information please visit www.cbxsoftware.com.

    Written by Eric Linxwiler May, 14 2018

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