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Target joins US retail giants exploring blockchain

Target is the latest big name in the US retail sector to explore the potential of blockchain technology.

The Minnesota-based group, which has around 1,850 stores across North America and is the eighth-largest US retailer, has reportedly been working over the past 12 months on a blockchain-powered solution for supply chain management (SCM), dubbed ConsenSource.

More recently, Target has lent its support to the Hyperledger Grid project, a supply chain framework that involves food and agriculture giant Cargill, one of Target’s suppliers, together with tech group Intel and blockchain start-up Bitwise.io.

To boost its distributed ledger technology (DLT)-related work, Target is now looking for a blockchain engineer and systems developer, according to the company’s career page.

The new engineer will contribute to ConsenSource and to Hyperledger Grid, developing DLTs and “protocols, smart contracts, command-line interfaces (CLIs), and RESTful (representational state transfer) application programming interfaces (APIs) in an open source environment,” according to the job posting.

Biggest potential

“I’m proud that Target will support the Hyperledger Grid project, and that we’re committing dedicated engineering resources to build out components in the Grid architecture,” wrote Joel Crabb, Target’s vice president of architecture, in a post on the corporate blog.

The ConsenSource project, which Target recently open-sourced, was primarily focused on the certification of suppliers for the company’s own paper manufacturing. Target has been “working directly with the forest managers and certification boards” studying the technology and trying to figure out what data can be shared on a distributed ledger, Crabb wrote.

This work enabled Target to recognise the benefits of open-source projects and support some of them.

The blog reads:

“Many companies – including Target – see the most potential for enterprise blockchain initiatives as open source. Open-source projects require all participating parties to define the governance model collectively from the outset, so companies then can focus their time working on blockchain-based solutions that will lead to greater speed, transparency and cost savings.”

According to the CoinDesk website, Target has kept its blockchain initiatives very low-key until now. In 2016, the company hired Aarthi Srinivasan – who previously worked at JPMorgan and IBM – as its director of product management for personalisation, machine learning and blockchain.

Last December, reports emerged that Target been working on a supply chain product under the umbrella of the open-source Hyperledger consortium.

An unnamed source said Target would join the Sawtooth Supply Chain project, which is developing a distributed application to track the provenance of food and other assets using the Sawtooth implementation of Hyperledger.

In its most recent annual report Target said that it is investing in supply chain improvements. The company is “in the process of a broad migration of many mainframe-based systems and middleware products to a modern platform, including systems supporting inventory and supply chain-related transactions,” the report stated, without mentioning blockchain or DLT.


This item appears in the following sections:
Payments - Making
Paying Suppliers
Region
North America
Trade & FSC Management
Financial Supply Chain Platforms

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