Av Trimble smartdelivery | Article | February 26, 2018

Is Blockchain technology the answer for achieving great e-commerce shipments?

While e-commerce consumption and online shopping activities are blooming worldwide, a key challenge that remains is how to achieve “great delivery”. One might ask what “great” means in this context? Put simply, it is about maximum accuracy, prediction, transparency, personalization, flexibility and cost-efficiency. Blockchain is an emerging technology that can bring granular, global and simple delivery tracking.

The ideal (or great) delivery is full of contradictions. Today, there is considerable discrepancy between what we expect as consumers in terms of delivery performance and what the traditional logistics industry provides. As a consumer, I want my logistics supplier to handle same-day delivery, narrow time windows, accurate time forecasting, timely notification, changes of destination address on the fly, transparent tracing and much more. And, of course, I don’t want to pay a premium for any of this. From the logistics provider’s perspective, all of the consumers’ demands are, of course, achievable, although they drive up costs. This is a major headache for many traditional logistics companies and postal organizations as they are not structured to handle e-commerce deliveries in a cost-efficient manner.

Blockchain – how does it work

So, by what magic is global tracking with Blockchain possible? Blockchain is based on a few key principles. Let’s look at them step by step. The first involves efficient data sharing. Instead of keeping information and records in each of the logistic parties’ IT-systems, blockchain uses the concept of an open ledger. Think about it as a billboard or blackboard that is visible to everybody. Each new transaction is noted in the public ledger and anyone (in the network) can see this transaction. We call each such transaction a “block”.