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In its pursuit to stretch digital services for retail shoppers, Walmart has outlined a Blockchain based framework. As per the recently released filing by U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Walmart has filed a patent on May 17, 2018 for a Blockchain based marketplace for reselling the purchased products. As per the application, Walmart’s service would record the customer’s purchases in a Blockchain ledger thereby allowing the customer to resell the items on a sales platform using the record of the purchase.
How will the Blockchain Framework help Walmart
The patent indicates that it is aimed at increasing competition from ‘non-traditional shopping mechanisms’ as an incentive for ‘bricks and mortar’ retailers. The patent also stipulates that the novelty is not necessarily limited to retailers. This is because individual customers usually use a product for a specific period of time, and then desire to it put up for sale later. This however, involves low-awareness on the way to carry out the sale, mainly due to the fact that clients are left to their own devices to organize for consequent resale.
Another advantage that Walmart will look for is gaining market cap in used item sales market. Since customers don’t always plan to use an item for its lifespan, and are generally “left to their own devices to arrange for a subsequent resale,” the architecture described in the patent can provide “additional support to greatly ease and facilitate their later reselling of items.” The interface could be point-of-sale, browser-based, or a mobile device among other options.
In order to complete a transaction, a seller and courier are required to make available their private keys. The moment both keys are matched, the transaction will instantly broadcast to the network, although it may necessitate verification from the buyer, seller, and courier, before it is added to the Blockchain. Later, the moment the buyer collects the package, the courier is expected to make use of their private keys to confirm the handover. This should immediately update the Blockchain within the transaction, thus marking the conclusion of the purchase cycle. In addition, it takes in a variety of interfaces like mobile platforms, web-browsers or even physical points-of-sale.
Walmart has filed number of Patents of Blockchain solutions/ frameworks over the years but has been hesitant to merge them into its day-to-day operations. However, this seems to be changing now. At the end of April, the vice president of Walmart’s Food Safety and Health announced that the company was ready to use Blockchain tech in its live food business in order to improve contamination management and overall transparency. Further, Walmart plans to integrate its solution with parcel tracking system to Internet of Things (IOT).