Blockchain in logistics

How to uncover the true value of emerging technologies for your organisation

Logistics is becoming increasingly complex, with more parties directly or indirectly involved in supply chains. This complexity is creating challenges related to communication and end-to-end visibility – making logistics processes inefficient. At the same time expectations of all participants in the supply chain related to transparency, reliability and service are increasing.

Blockchain is emerging as an important technology to help address some of these challenges. In the recently published global digital supply chain study “Connected and autonomous supply chain ecosystem 2025”, we showed that blockchain is spurring interest in the field but has not gained much traction yet. Only 5% of all companies and 27% of Digital Champions have already implemented blockchain.

This study sheds light on the advantages of blockchain technology in the logistics space. It offers an overview of use cases and estimates their impact on the future of the logistics function to provide objective and pragmatic recommendations about blockchain’s potential in this field. We'd also like to share our perspective on the key building blocks you should follow when identifying and defining the potential value of blockchain in logistics for your organisation.

Download the whitepaper

 

Our clients face the following specific challenges for logistics functions

The benefits of blockchain in logistics

We believe there’s high potential for blockchain applications within logistics functions. The technology can solve key challenges by creating an encrypted digital record that tracks goods at every stage in the supply chain. It makes any irregularities that could disrupt a shipment clearly visible, enabling companies to solve problems quickly. And it can automate processes while also making it easier to verify goods – reducing paperwork and supporting end-to-end traceability.

Blockchain enables organisations to share data securely and achieve common goals more efficiently.

Enhance supply chain transparency and traceability

Enhance supply chain transparency and traceability

Ensure security, immutability and authenticity

Ensure security, immutability and authenticity

Reduce process complexity

Reduce process complexity

Improve operational efficiencies

Improve operational efficiencies

Creating and implementing a blockchain solution is not a traditional IT task. There’s no point re-creating the old world with a blockchain at its core. Organisations that do not recognise this risk reassert existing roles, processes and business models. Instead, you need a strategy that transforms your approach.

As blockchain has the potential to change the way of working in the logistics sector, we suggest to follow a well structured approach.

How to make it happen

1. Make the business case

Where and how to start

  • Commit to new ways of working
    Creating a blockchain doesn’t have to mean complete reinvention, but you need to make sure you don’t slip into familiar ways of doing things. New ways of thinking and operating will be required.
  • Frame the problem and solution
    Your blockchain project needs to be supported by a strategy. What is the issue you are addressing, and how will blockchain help? How might this same issue be affecting others in your industry?
  • Start small, then scale up
    Make sure you know where blockchain will fit in your business environment, and fine-tune issues along the way. But stay focused on the long-term value: an external shared resource that makes new scale economies possible.

 

2. Build an industry ecosystem

New rules for new relationships

  • Focus on a cooperative few
    Start with smaller ecosystems with a tradition of cooperating on matters of industry-wide importance. It’s also possible to build a blockchain that starts with just a few stakeholders but is ready to expand.
  • Broaden your network
    Blockchain consortia are valuable resources for staying close to technology developments, but you can look to established industry groups or trade organisations to find a community for exploring industry applications.
  • Work across the value chain
    Conduct a competitive analysis: Are competitors or new entrants already planning on using blockchain? Is there a potential for partnership? Will you have to participate in their blockchain solution in order to continue doing business?

3. Design deliberately

Determine rules of engagement

  • Confront risks early
    Plan to add cybersecurity, compliance, and legal and audit specialists to blockchain development teams. Involving risk professionals from the start will enable you to build a framework that regulators and all your stakeholders will trust.
  • Consider privacy implications
    Blockchain needs to fit into enterprise privacy strategies. GDPR, for example, requires that personally identifiable information be erasable. This has to be reconciled with the fact that data immutability is an important characteristic of blockchain.
  • Invest in data and processes
    Traditional organisational processes, such as sales, manufacturing and shipping, are often suboptimal and siloed. Focusing efforts to streamline processes and data flows lays the groundwork for blockchain efforts.

4. Navigate regulatory uncertainty

Watch, but don’t wait

  • Shape the trusted tech discussion
    The risks of blockchain, and how to trust it, are part of a growing public discussion of responsible innovation and trust in technology. Engage with regulators and industry groups to help shape emerging policies and best practices.
  • Monitor evolving regulation
    Besides directly regulating the technology itself, laws around data use and protection can fundamentally change how blockchain operates. It is vital to engage with regulators to help shape how the environment evolves.
  • Use existing regulation as a guide
    Current regulations still apply – but they may apply in different ways. By and large, we expect existing regulation to extend to new business models and applications. If you remain agile, you’ll be able to adapt and remain compliant.

Contact us

Peter Vermeire

Peter Vermeire

Partner, PwC Belgium

Tel: +32 493 51 87 28

Luc Van Ostaeyen

Luc Van Ostaeyen

Director

Tel: +32 (0)475 91 5784

Connect with PwC Belgium