Walmart Using Blockchain to Make Deliveries More Efficient

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Retail giant Walmart is adding to their collection of blockchain related patents in an effort to make their product deliveries more efficient.

On July 5th, Walmart was awarded their latest patent that details a new system that focuses on the delivery and scheduling of products purchased through their website. The system, called the Delivery Reservation Apparatus and Method, was originally filed early last year, and details Walmart’s plan to build delivery hubs that use a public ledger to track available units and reserved units.

The delivery hub would utilize blockchain technology to record which units are reserved, being used, or available.  Once a reservation request is made, the public ledger will determine whether or not there is available space, and the ledger would execute a contract reserving the space. The ledger will reflect all changes made and will ensure that no space is double reserved.  Each delivery hub will act as a node within the blockchain network.

In the patent application (number 62441705) the authors explained the node configuration within the delivery hubs, explaining:

“Updates to the blockchain may comprise transfer of capacity units into and out of the public ledger and one or more nodes on the system may be configured to incorporate one or more updates into blocks to add to the distributed database.” 

Although the delivery hubs are less convenient than door step deliveries in some ways, Walmart believes that the efficiency of the system will outweigh convenience, as it will eliminate common delivery problems.  The delivery hubs will virtually eliminate package theft, lost packages, and will be more convenient than waiting all day for packages that require signing for.  

This is not Walmart’s first time utilizing blockchain technology to increase the company’s efficiency.  Walmart recently filed a patent detailing how they could use blockchain technology to track drone shipments.  The company also filed a patent detailing how they could use the blockchain to securely store patient data that could be accessed in the case of an emergency if the patient is unable to communicate with healthcare professionals.