Options on how businesses could deploy blockchain technology include creating trackable, tamper-proof packaging, devising serial numbers or sensor stamps, and closely monitoring the transportation of materials or products from one stage to another. Advocates say all of those practices would, gradually, create perfect data that could eventually make it more difficult for unwanted or illegal additions to be introduced into production and distribution systems.
In addition, advocates add, the eventual savings from greater efficiency and transparency as a result of using blockchain — removing the need for paper invoices, for example, as well as reducing the information silos that have traditionally existed among each point of the supply chain, like the mine, the refiner, the manufacturer and the retailer — are another major boon.
“Fundamentally, it reduces room for human error, boosts trust via open source cooperation and could, in time, redefine the way many luxury players do business,” Ms. Haziot said.
The question, however, is when?
Plenty of barriers still exist, especially for smaller brands, some of whom have suggested that, at a time when provenance has never been more scrutinized, the idea of blockchain is being hyped by laboratories eager to charge for origin testing. Then there are heavy upfront investment costs, the acquisition of a digital wallet and the need to wade through confusing and intimidating jargon to get on board with many blockchain service providers — who are often building their own separate blockchains, which could be counterproductive. Then there is the fact that most of the technology is constantly changing and still in its early stages.
“There is a lot that still needs working on,” Mr. Lubin said, “and a lot that could be made better.”