DropChain Pilot Phase 1 : Preparation

Billy Chan
Mar 2, 2019 · 4 min read

Happy Chinese New Year everyone! Wishing all our friends and supporters a healthy, happy, and prosperous Year of the Pig!

Since late 2018, DropChain’s team has been working hard quietly behind the scenes on product design and development. We believe that ultimately, what determines the success of any project is being able to deliver a product, even one in its earliest form. Now that MVP development is close to completion, we’re busy finalizing the execution plans for our Phase 1 pilot study. So, we felt it was time to give everyone an update!

When DropChain announced its vision for an affordable, scalable and easy-to-adopt supply chain SaaS solution powered by blockchain technology, we set ourselves apart with a unique solution of strategically incentivizing players along the supply chain, leveraging gamification techniques to drive real user engagement, traceability and transparency not only for alcohol brands but potentially for other food verticals as well. Specifically, we aim to tackle core issues that exist in supply chains today, specifically:

  • Fake alcohol in the market that has impacted both sales, brand equity, and consumer safety
  • The lack of an easily accessible system providing supply chain data transparency and traceability
  • Limited data interoperability and open standards across different points in the supply chain
  • A brand’s lack of market and end-retailer data required to make better business decisions

For Phase 1, we will tackle the second issue through data digitization alongside our brand partners.

Product design meeting with brand partner Brander Urstoff

When speaking with alcohol brand owners and stakeholders connected to the supply chain (distributors, resellers, and end-retailers such as restaurant and bar owners), we realized in terms of data collection processes many used either pen and paper or just a simple offline Excel file to track their product flow, with a limited ability to perform any meaningful data analysis. Furthermore, some downstream partners are not even carrying out data collection as they perceived this to be too costly and time consuming.

The manual nature of workflows currently for many craft brand owners

There is an opportunity for DropChain to help the 10,000+ craft and boutique alcohol brands globally digitize their supply chain data. This pilot study will be an opportunity to demonstrate how, with a simple, accessible, and adaptable interface, data can be effectively collected between different stakeholders along a supply chain, aggregated and presented to brands enabling a level of transparency hardly ever seen.

DropChain has been running our own e-commerce platform over WeChat the last several years, and we believe it is the right platform to continue building on, considering the general availability of smartphones and high adoption of WeChat in China. We prepared our Phase 1 pilot to address the most basic need for our partners: track alcohol shipments from end-to-end while proving the possibility of providing valuable logistic data to brands owners. Here’s what we did:

  1. Back-end Optimization

    An upgrade of our back-end database was performed to handle a larger data set being captured, coupled with an initial incentivization and gamification framework. We also rebuilt the tools downstream distributors have been using, leveraging WeChat Mini Programs to cater to new demands in functionality.
  2. Front-End Upgrade
    We also re-designed our user interface to: A) display more detailed logistics data in an easy-to-read format for both mobile and desktop; B) showcase incentivization and gamification elements; and, C) introduce a new QR code scanning interface within the app to start capturing data.
  3. QR Code Creation
    For this pilot, we are linking physical products to digital assets through QR codes. 2D barcodes can perform the same function but is easy to copy at any stage of the supply chain, while RFID is too costly for initial stages as we are looking for a solution that results in high adoption amongst craft and boutique alcohol brands. Working alongside key technology partners (to be announced), DropChain will be utilizing QR code technology which is considerably more secure than 2D barcode, while more economical than RFID to implement broadly.

    Once DropChain’s QR codes are affixed to cases of product earmarked by brand partners for the pilot project, we will enable downstream stakeholders to easily scan in shipments through DropChain’s WeChat Mini Program.

Executing any pilot project is never easy, due to the complexities of managing multiple outside parties, conflicting agendas, and breakdowns in the actual product itself. Now that the preparation phase is ending, we’ll be sharing more on our execution strategy in an upcoming article. It’s been a tremendous amount of work for a relatively small team, but we’re excited for the opportunity to share the results of our hard work with everyone over the next several weeks. Stay tuned for more details next week!

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