Using blockchain technology to combat retail theft

The retail industry is one of the most important sectors of the United States economy. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has left the trillion-dollar retail sector vulnerable to in-store theft. 

Findings from the National Retail Federation’s 2022 Retail Security Survey show that retail losses from stolen goods increased to $94.5 billion in 2021, up from $90.8 billion in 2020. Some retailers also have to lock away certain products to prevent theft, which may lead to decreased sales due to consumers’ inability to access goods.

Retailers look toward blockchain to solve retail theft

Given these extreme measures, many innovative retailers have started looking toward technology to combat retail theft. For example, Lowe’s, an American home improvement retailer, has recently implemented a proof-of-concept called Project Unlock, which uses radio frequency identification (RFID) chips, Internet of Things sensors and blockchain technology. The solution is currently being tested in several Lowe’s stores in the United States.

Josh Shabtai, senior director of ecosystem practice at Lowe’s Innovation Labs — Lowe’s tech wing that developed Project Unlock — told Cointelegraph that Project Unlock aims to explore emerging technology to help curb theft while creating better customer experiences.

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To accomplish this, Shabtai explained that RFID chips are used to activate specific Lowes’ power tools at the point of purchase. “So if a customer steals a power tool, it won’t work,” he said.

Shabtai noted that RFID chips are a low-cost solution that many retailers use to prevent theft. According to the National Retail Federation’s 2022 Retail Security Survey, 38.6% of retailers already implement or plan to implement RFID systems. However, Shabtai explained that combining RFID systems with a blockchain network can provide retailers with a transparent, tamper-proof record to track in-store purchases. He said:

“Through Project Unlock, a unique ID is registered and assigned to each of our power tools……

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