Target has been dabbling with blockchain-backed distributed ledger technology as a solution for supply chains since 2018, according to a blog post published by the mass-merchandise retailer in April.
In the middle of 2018, Target undertook a “blockchain proof of concept to manage the certification of suppliers,” VP of architecture Joel Crabb wrote on the corporate blog. Though the initial blockchain push focused on Target’s branded paper goods, it since expanded into an open-source effort dubbed ConsenSource.
While the easy part of getting involved with blockchain is “standing up” the system, the hard part is figuring out what kinds of data should live on the same, especially when by nature multiple parties use an share data across a blockchain, Crabb explained in the post.
Target is also supporting Hyperledger Grid, an effort led by Cargill to develop supply chain middleware storing data and transactions on a blockchain. “Working directly with one of our largest food suppliers will allow Target and all other participants to learn from one another as blockchain technologies mature,” Crabb said. “This also gives us an instant use case in determining which data to share and how to govern a multi-enterprise, blockchain-backed distributed ledger.”
For large, multi-category retailers, tracking and tracing food has been a top priority as blockchain presents a workable solution to providing transparency in food chains and quickly identifying the source of food-borne illnesses. However, apparel is attracting attention in the blockchain space as consumers demand to know where their clothing comes from. LVMH notably is working with blockchain consultancy ConsenSys to develop a proprietary distributed ledger to assure consumers of the provenance of their purchases.