ViZix® IoT blockchain solution provides more efficient and reliable data exchange among consortium partners for RFID validation of outbound and inbound shipments in retail supply chain
Mojix, a leading provider of item chain management solutions for retail, has partnered with the Auburn University RFID Lab to provide a blockchain solution based on it’s ViZix IoT software platform for Project Zipper, an initiative put forth and supported by the retail industry to better understand the business value of EPC as a serialized data carrier and blockchain technology for secure data exchange within retail supply chain networks.
Auburn’s Project Zipper initiative, supported by GS1 US, includes five leading retailers and eight retail brand owners and has focused on key business value areas such as claims reduction, electronic proof of delivery, vendor score-carding, authenticity, pedigree, and many others. The primary goals of the study include quantifying immediate business value, preparing for future business value, investigating technical alignment, and developing data exchange standards and methods. Up to this point, serialized item data exchange in the supply chain has been a challenge as participants have not had a “trustworthy” source that is capable of handling significant amounts of data. With the addition of Mojix as a participant in Project Zipper, the Auburn University RFID Lab is exploring the feasibility of a more efficient and accurate data exchange between retail/brand partners powered by blockchain technology.
“Retailers have been leveraging item-level serialization data in their stores for inventory accuracy with great success, however, exchanging that visibility data with partners in the supply chain has presented challenges in terms of capacity, accuracy and security,” said Auburn University RFID Lab Director Justin Patton, “There are few technologies available capable of securely managing hundreds of millions, even billions, of inventory records between retailers and brands. This is where a blockchain solution came into the picture.”
Mojix’s ViZix blockchain solution can reduce data accuracy shortcomings inherent to retail supply chains. The ability to push data from any partner in the supply chain to a single source of truth stored in a blockchain combined with the ability to model data workflows within these partners allows to define key retail use cases within the platform and have this data ready for advanced analytics. A typical data workflow, like the one needed for analysis comparison between brand owners and retailers, can be easily and quickly modeled, bringing the ability to automate this analysis for scalability purposes.
Leading retailer Macy’s and brand owner Herman Kay are once again at the forefront of retail technology advancements by participating in Project Zipper. Last year, Macy’s announced plans to expand the use of RFID to track every item across its fleet of stores and fulfillment centers by the end of 2018. Herman Kay, a leading manufacturer of coats and outerwear for women and men, and a key supplier to Macy’s, has implemented RFID at every step of their internal fulfillment process – optimizing operations and increasing internal confidence levels that the right garments, in the right sizes and colors, have been delivered to the right customers. Initial results from Project Zipper are expected to be released in February 2018.
“We’re excited to participate in Project Zipper as we investigate the potential of blockchain technology,” said Bill Connell, SVP Macy’s Logistics & Operations. “As blockchain continues to advance, we’re looking forward to seeing what practical applications it can bring to retail.”
Microsoft is also participating in Project Zipper and has been at the forefront of enterprise blockchain adoption with their broader initiative Project Manifest and has invested significant engineering resources to enable adoption at scale. Project Zipper helps support Manifest by establishing the retail supply chain business value. “One area customers articulate as a challenge, in particular in supply chain, is facilitating cross organizational secure trusted workflows. Blockchain’s qualities solve for this use case,” said Yorke Rhodes, Global Blockchain Business Strategist for Microsoft. “We’ve been collaborating with Mojix as they build their tech stack on Azure and incorporate blockchain to solve this specific problem. We are excited to see Project Zipper evolve to its next phase leveraging blockchain to make sharing product tracking data between brands and suppliers more seamless.”