CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly
February 25, 2020
CSCMP Notebook

How sharing trusted data can unite the retail supply chain

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Susan Pichoff of GS1 discusses a research study at Auburn University that's exploring how RFID, GS1 Standards, and blockchain can help overcome challenges in the supply chain industry.

With the birth of the smartphone, retails companies have quickly realized that their aging technology systems can't keep up with customer demands. The supply chain industry is one of many industries looking to future technologies like blockchain to help alleviate real-time demands. "Advanced technology can better enable a future state where the seamless sharing of trusted data is the norm," says Susan Pichoff, senior director of apparel and general merchandise at GS1, a nonprofit organization that develops global standards for business communications, in CSCMP's latest Hot Topic publication.

Auburn University's RFID Lab has conducted a proof-of-concept study called the Chain Integration Project (CHIP). This year-long study aimed to help the retail community better understand how blockchain can be implemented successfully in the near future. "The researchers believe that blockchain, if applied to a foundation built on RFID and GS1 Standards, can help the industry overcome challenges that have made the supply chain sometimes frustratingly costly and slow," explains Pichoff.

The CHIP project's ultimate goal is to take the knowledge learned in the study, test and integrate the data from products' RFID tags, and build a peer-to-peer blockchain network, where retailers and suppliers deliver their product inventory information through one common record of information.

By creating a standards-based framework using the immense amount of data captured from RFID tags and creating a common language with GS1 standards, argues Pichoff, the retail industry has the opportunity to increase efficiency, improve inventory accuracy, and create item-level serialization so that every single retail item can have its own unique digital identity.

This Hot Topics is free to CSCMP members and nonmembers by visiting cscmp.org.

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