New US research reveals potentially revolutionary implications for supply chain and product category management in the retail sector. The research offers the prospect of using blockchain and radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to rid the industry of expensive errors and inefficiencies that have hitherto dogged it.
The sector’s problems in this field have largely been due to the inability of outmoded processes and legacy systems to accurately track product items and share data about them across the supply chain.
Now, Auburn University RFIB Lab in conjunction with the American information standards body GS1 US has finished a proof-of-concept trial that clearly shows the benefits of blockchain and RFID technology in significantly enhancing serialised data sharing in the retail sector.
The findings of the trial are published in a white paper, ‘Chain Integration Project (CHIP) Proof of Concept’, which chronicles the investigation into the exchange of serialised product data between paired brands and retailers
Blockchain was able to accurately share data encoded in RFID tags, item by item, between the parties involved.
Moreover, the study suggests that the interlinking of blockchain and RFID technologies for data sharing may eliminate a substantial source of error and time consumption: human audits.
Resulting gains in productivity and efficiency have big implications for achieving new cost savings and improving ‘the bottom line’.
Prior to the interlinking of the technologies explored in the study, retail industry stakeholders struggled with poor item visibility, chiefly due to insufficient data sharing.
The CHIP initiative shows that blockchain combined with a data-sharing standard from GS1 called EPCIS (Electronic Product Code Information Service) enables partners to send data more straightforwardly and efficiently, all the while retaining full ownership of their data.
Commenting on the groundbreaking nature of CHIP, the director of the Auburn University RFID Lab, Justin Patton, said that by looking at the intersection of blockchain technology and RFID, they have taken an important step in their mission to rid the retail supply chain of errors and inefficiencies caused by legacy systems and out-of-date processes.