NextGen Supply Chain: Blockchain Moves Forward in the Supply Chain

With a recent announcement, Carrefour is the second global retailer to embrace blockchain for supply chain management.

By ·

Carrefour, the hypermarket French retailer, announced it will be investing the majority of its $2 Billion dollar annual investments into blockchain solutions and an online delivery platform. The initiative is being headed by CEO Alexandre Bompard and is intended to adapt to consumer preferences through transparency, accurate supply chain management and bolstering e-commerce.

Carrefour plans to use a blockchain ledger starting sometime in early 2018 to improve the traceability of products, especially in food. Bompard stressed food quality as a major driver of success in the hypermarket space. This change is driven by a shift in consumer preferences towards added value on the transparency and sustainability of the food products being sold.

Bompard’s initiative also addresses the damage food borne illnesses could cause his brand. Poor recall execution and speed in the event of an outbreak would be costly due to their liability to the customer. These concerns and goals to ensure supply chain transparency create the opportunity for software solutions to thrive, namely blockchain. Having a ledger coexist with RFID tagging through the supply chain would provide an all-in-one location for shipping documents to be stored and help keep track of supplier quality to ensure food safety.

The final focal point of Carrefour’s digitalization is the movement towards the online grocery market. With improved logistics, food quality, traceability and a distributed ledger, Carrefour is expected to launch a polished online platform and are targeting 20% market share by 2020. The site,, will offer food and other generalist shopping through “click and collect” (store-pickup) and home delivery. The transition to the digitization of processes leaves some room to cut costs at headquarters. Carrefour plans to downsize in all of its office locations, even closing the corporate HQ in Paris.

The advantages of the blockchain are valuable to say the least. Walmart has also made strides in incorporating blockchain technology in its business. Walmart partnered with IBM to create a unique ledger among its network of suppliers as well. The retail giant plans to address the food quality and the cases of fictitious pickups to strengthen its logistics. IBM and Walmart ran tests on the pilot program on tracking mango shipments which cut tracking time from several days to two seconds. With improved traceability they can ensure the authenticity of food and follow it from “hook to fork.”

While Walmart and Carrefour are taking their positions as thought leaders in the hypermarket space, there are some complications to be addressed in the transition to the distributed ledger. The main counterpoint to using blockchain technology in business is the network effect and high participation that brings a ledger monetary value. However, unlike a public ledger, the private supply chain ledger does not need require full participation to make it relevant. As these companies try to grow and globalize along with the need to improve speed and preparation through transparency, the most important task will be getting their vertical specific partner networks to engage. Both giants carry enough resources and influence to aid the key steps in the supply chain during the transition without having to focus on every stop.

Nicolas Dermond is Market Research Intern at VDC Research. Click here for more on blockchain from VDC Research.

Subscribe to Modern Materials Handling Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Find out what the world’s most innovative companies are doing to improve productivity in their plants and distribution centers.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Article Topics

Carrefour · VDC Research · Walmart · · All Topics
Latest Whitepaper
Solving the Labor Shortage Crisis: The Four Benefits of an Automated Warehouse
Not enough warehouse staff? Finding it difficult to keep up with orders during peak periods?
Download Today!
From the March 2018 Modern Materials Handling Issue
Here’s how one of the world’s largest 3PLs is looking to tomorrow’s innovative technologies, including heads-up display and robotics, to transform its operations today.
Conveyors & sortation: Carrying the e-commerce burden
2018 Productivity Achievement Awards
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Emerging Technologies for Your Distribution Center
Come get an insider's view of the latest technologies for inside your Distribution Center. You'll learn which technologies are being piloted, which are having success and moving from concept to implementation and into production on the maturity scale, and what's coming on the horizon.
Register Today!
NextGen Supply Chain at DHL
Here’s how one of the world’s largest 3PLs is looking to tomorrow’s innovative technologies,...
Trinchero Family Estates: Pallet handling in the vineyard
The second-largest family-owned wine company in the world turns to automated pallet handling and...

System Report: Rocky Brands Sees the Light
Confronting an aging materials handling system and new channels of business with new customer...
Lodge Manufacturing: Distribution Cast in Iron
In a new facility, iPhones and a new WMS allowed cookware manufacturer Lodge to double its business...