Save money. Live better.
That’s not only Walmart’s iconic slogan; it’s the guiding principle for its multibillion-dollar operations to ensure the lowest everyday prices for its consumers.
Within Walmart Canada (Walmart), one aspect of fulfilling that promise involved reexamining its supply chain logistics, and specifically its freight transportation, which enables stocking more than 400 stores nationwide with nearly 120,000 different products. To do so, Walmart works with thousands of businesses to ensure that in aggregate, and with proper allocations to each store, it is sufficiently stocked to service more than 1.2 million customers every day.
“Walmart places enormous value on its partnership with third party transportation companies, referred to as ‘carriers’,” says Neeraj Srivastava, DLT Labs™ co-founder and chief technology officer. “The carriers are a vital link in Walmart’s supply chain backbone, and handle a vast array of transportation, so they need to ensure both efficiency and the best working relationships possible.”
At the heart of a constructive relationship is managing a massive and constant flow of information, while ensuring the carriers are paid on time. This may sound easy, but the industry is inherently complex.
Carriers work around the clock, and through all seasons, to deliver goods. It is both a capital-intensive business and they also face a high degree of volatility on each delivery (fuel prices, delays, unexpected events). The business model that has evolved shares the risk of price fluctuations and unexpected events between the carriers and the beneficial cargo owners (BCO’s) like Walmart. Each invoice has both fixed charges, and variable charges that are called ‘accessorial charges’. While in principle it forms a healthy partnership with aligned interests, in practice there is immense complexity based on the number of variables. It is not uncommon to have invoice disputes in the range of 70% or more over every load a carrier delivers. Despite various service providers trying to solve this puzzle using the full spectrum of existing technologies, typically by running a ‘match and compare’ analysis, disputes continue to plague the industry with high administrative costs and lengthy time delays, and invoice reconciliation often simply meant one side or the other capitulated.
Walmart Canada enlisted the help of DLT Labs™, a global leader in the development and deployment of an innovative enterprise-level platform using distributed ledger technology, to develop a solution that would solve this perennial problem once and for all.