Walmart Canada launches ‘world-first’ blockchain supply-chain network

Blockchain will play a ‘mission-critical’ role in driving logistical efficiencies for its 400 stores in the country.
14 November 2019

A worker pushes shopping carts in front of a Walmart store. Source: AP

With the exception of a handful of initiatives such as Maersk TradeLens, blockchain’s real-world uptake– outside of the world of finance, at least– has so far been largely limited to pilots and experiments.

Today, however, Walmart Canada has launched a blockchain-based freight and payment network, in what is said to the world’s largest full production blockchain solution for any industrial application. 

In a press release, Walmart said the solution would play a “mission-critical” role in tracking deliveries, verifying transactions, automating payments and reconciliation across the firm’s inventory of more than 400 stores across Canada.

The solution, created with DLT Labs, will be available to use by all the firm’s third-party carriers by February 2020, accessible by a web portal and mobile application.

“Walmart Canada is dedicated to efficiency across our business, including most importantly in our supply chain and logistics management. 

Our carrier partners move over 500,000 loads of inventory nationally, which creates an extraordinary volume of transaction data,” said John Bayliss, Senior Vice-President, Logistics and Supply Chain, Walmart Canada.

“This new dynamic and interactive blockchain technology platform is creating complete transparency between Walmart Canada and all of our carrier partners.” 

Bayliss continued that blockchain was enabling a “material advance” in Walmart’s smart transportation network, by expediting payments and saving costs, but also in improving efficiency, with positive environmental impact as a result. 

The supply-chain platform DL Asset Track manages, integrates and sychronizes supply chain and logistics data in real-time, aggregating the data between Walmart Canada and its fleet of third-party trucks on a shared ledger.

The solution also automates the myriad necessary calculations enabling real-time invoicing, payments and settlement. 

At the same time, it integrates with each company’s legacy systems, so organizations can continue to follow their existing processes without retraining or a new investment in technology.

This innovation arose from Walmart Canada’s continued focus on reducing costs to ensure the lowest everyday prices for its customers, but it also comes amid the retail giants continued investment in and real-world application of emerging technologies to enhance customer experiences. 

Now the third-largest e-commerce firm in the States, supply-chain efficiency is the first area to address in order to peg down profit margins, and seriously compete the logistics giant that is now Amazon. 

In Canada alone, Walmart has more than 4,500 associates and drivers moving thousands of items daily from sites located in Calgary, Mississauga and Cornwall to stores from coast to coast across Canada. 

Walmart Canada operates 8.75 million square feet of distribution center and moves more than 853 million cases of merchandise annually. These goods are transported by a combination of third-party fleet as well as Walmart Canada’s own fleet of 180 tractors, 2,000 trailers and more than 350 drivers. 

Each third-party trailer tracks approximately 200 data points per shipment. Automating this data collection and management using blockchain will result in a significant cost-saving.

Loudon Owen, CEO of DLT Lads, said he was “delighted to partner with an extraordinary organization to bring the world’s first and largest blockchain solution for industry into production. 

“This proves the high value of blockchain and sets the stage to revolutionize supply chain management and logistics, due to its ability to enable secure information sharing, manage trust and reduce waste in multi-partner operational processes.

“Just as the Roman’s concept, ‘dictum meum pactum’– meaning ‘my word is my bond’– was fundamental to building trade, this product creates a secure digital handshake using blockchain to renew trust and efficiency in global trade.”