- French retailer Carrefour has seen sales of certain meat, milk and fruit products rise after implementing a blockchain initiative that allows customers to trace the origins of products in the store. A customer can scan a QR code on an item's packaging and see where and when it was produced and how it made its way to the customer's location.
- Thus far the program includes 20 items in the grocery category, and the grocer will likely add 100 additional products across the company's offerings, including apparel and baby products over the next year, Reuters reported.
- Emmanuel Delerm, Carrefour’s blockchain project manager, told Reuters that after a year, sales of blockchain items, such as grapefruits and chicken, outperformed their non-blockchain counterparts, though he did not say by how much.
Carrefour partnered with IBM to launch its blockchain initiative, following other U.S. and international retailers that have signed on to IBM's track and trace platforms to secure their inventory and offer greater production transparency to customers.
The resulting boost in sales shows a measurable benefit to the bottom line stemming from the ability to track products through their supply chains — beyond the risk mitigation and provenance assurance usually touted as blockchain's potential impact on food supply chains.
According to Delerm, the initiative has been most popular in Carrefour's stores in China, where customers are already used to scanning QR codes for product information, followed by those in Italy and its native France. Some consumers spend as much as 90 seconds reading product information after scanning the code.
In the company's Q1 earnings report, the retailer said like-for-like sales grew by 2.7% over last year, with currency and trade volatility in its Latin American markets and fierce competition in Europe putting downward pressure on growth.
In addition, "Millennials are buying less but buying better products for their health, for the planet," Delerm told Reuters. "You are building a halo effect - 'If I can trust Carrefour with this chicken, I can also trust Carrefour for their apples or cheese.'"
He hopes millennial customers will grow more loyal to the brands that satisfy their desire for sustainable, transparent products, a trend Carrefour hopes to capitalize on by expanding its blockchain program through 2019.