Lowe’s is applying cutting-edge technologies to a solution named Project Unlock, meant to help solve the age old yet continually growing problem of organized retail crime.
Organized retail crime has been on the rise since 2020, and it costs retailers an average of $700,000 per $1 billion in sales, according to the NRF’s 2020 Organized Retail Crime Survey. While others are working to tackle this problem, Lowe’s believes there are better ways to curb theft than locking products down. Project Unlock combines low-cost RFID chips and IoT sensors to activate power tools at the point of purchase, while also creating a secure, publicly accessible, and anonymized record of legitimate purchases, powered by blockchain.
“We are inventing the technology that makes at-purchase activation and transparent purchase records possible so we can tackle theft in a way that is virtually invisible to our customers,” said Seemantini Godbole, executive vice president and chief digital and information officer at Lowe’s. “We see a future in which solutions like Project Unlock can help the entire retail ecosystem create a great environment for our customers.”
Lowe’s has built a blockchain record that verifies and tracks all legitimate purchases, making it easy for buyers to see if they’re purchasing stolen goods, or for law enforcement to crack down on crime rings. To make this work, a unique NFT is created for each physical product. The proof of concept starts with power tools, but Lowe’s says it sees potential to use this invisible blockchain and RFID system for other items in its stores—and across the entire retail ecosystem.