BY LOUISE MERCER // Chief Experience Officer
Louise Mercer, Everledger’s Chief Experience Officer, reveals her thinking behind the recent updates to the Everledger Platform. Simple, bold ideas can help solve the most complex industry challenges.
At Everledger, we use blockchain and Internet of Things (IoT) technology coupled with industry partnerships to improve supply chain transparency where it matters. Our initial focus has been on the diamond industry, but now we have established our influence in other categories such as gemstones, apparel, wine and luxury items, as well as circular economy. It’s not breaking news that the global COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted all of these industries. As suppliers and retailers look to rebound in the coming months and years, their ability to differentiate their brands in their marketplaces will prove business-critical.
The new Everledger Platform is designed to support their recovery. We started the process of revamping our systems toward the end of last year and our first assignment was market research. We took a deep dive on customers’ needs, and paid attention as Covid added new pressures into industries. Rather than rely on our own instinct, we tested with real users and followed their feedback. What are their day-to-day problems that we can help solve? What’s on their minds? How can Everledger help?
Long before the pandemic struck, our research identified ‘market edge’ as one of the key differentiators our customers wished to create for themselves. Therefore, how could we scale up our platform for multiple participants in a way that A. people would love and B. it adds real value to their business? In terms of Customer Experience (CX), we answered this question with a mission statement: let’s help good businesses do good business with other good businesses. How? By creating an exclusive, connected network of trusted people. Everledger and its ‘symphony of technologies’ (blockchain, IoT, intelligent labelling) would bring a layer of digital trust to their network.
We identified three service areas that will help facilitate good business: traceability, discoverability and interoperability.
- Traceability. Everledger has been known for our ability to surface data for some time. We’ve been called the ‘Google of Objects’ by some partners. Traceability is about improving consumer confidence. We help users to share the whole story of each asset, including origin and sustainable life cycle, so the consumer has ever more knowledge about their valuable purchase. With the new version of the Everledger Platform, we can do that faster and more securely than ever before. (We can also do it more beautifully!)
- Discoverability. Gathering together your inventory data is great, but it’s just the first step. That has to lead to valuable outcomes for our customers. So, the Everledger Platform now acts as a matchmaking app, where manufacturers and retailers can discover each other and start or deepen relationships. The platform is self-managed, allowing users to determine their buying behaviours, the types of products they are after, and connect to people who may become business partners. So if you only want to trade with certain partners who can evidence sustainability practices, or you are only looking to purchase stock that can evidence its origin, then you can do that. The platform now is helping our partners generate more business, and to evidence claims they wish to make about their stock.!
- Interoperability. Everledger is not a marketplace. Rather, our goal is to support good business decisions and existing marketplaces to facilitate peer-to-peer transfers through quality information. This can happen on our site, but we have also designed an API (application programming interface) that sits within partners’ commerce solutions, as an embedded source of valuable market information. By bringing the Everledger Platform onboard, customers gain that layer of digital trust, being thus able to offer unprecedented transparency about the entire supply chain of their products to end consumers.
Turning ideas into action
We designed the platform’s features to reflect these three goals for our users. For example, our Provenance page traces the full story of a diamond, which can then be shared from supplier to retailer to consumer — and back again, as needed. I’m particularly pleased with the clean lines of the user interface (UI), which makes it extremely simple to use on any device. We continue to research to gather insight on customer behaviour, so we can make the UI as intuitive as possible. It’s so easy to flick from one diamond to the next. Users can scroll for information intuitively. This is especially effective on smaller screens such as on smartphones.
The section called ‘My Vault’ houses the assets registered and their characteristics. Full transfer history for each asset is available, encompassing any transactions between a supplier and retailer, a retailer and consumer, and then between consumers through the secondary market. It’s very easy to do and also very secure, as each transfer is captured on the blockchain, so it can’t be replicated or destroyed. It provides the security and confidence that our clients and their customers desire.
The end effect, so we hope, is better buying decisions, for the supplier and retailer, as well as consumer. Let’s say you want to gain a market edge by becoming carbon neutral by 2025. Or that you only want diamonds with a certain number of carats, and from a particular country or supplier. You can quickly filter down to surface that type of inventory. You only see the stones that you find interesting. As suppliers and retailers learn from this, they will adapt accordingly. Everledger steps back to allow people to find each other and handle the permissions. Ultimately, a more consistent and reliable source of inventory leads to better business outcomes, strengthening the full value chain.
Leveraging our API
We can offer a data plug-and-play for any marketplace that is hoping to bring an extra value proposition to the table. Typically, that is increased confidence that buyers can trust what they are paying for. This is sometimes called a set-and-forget partnership: you set your buying behaviour and the information you want to make available for trusted partners, and our API access will do the rest. There are a string of useful ways to leverage our API so that it will surface core data and evidence your edge in the market, from a sustainability or proof of origin perspective.
From a technology point of view, we’re really excited that we can now operate three times faster than before. And we are on the verge of doubling that again. We are using AI to make sense out of major pieces of data and media files, such as certification documents, and then do validation and verification in the safest and fastest way possible. Gaining the ISO27001 certification is a big feather in our cap, as is Cyber Essentials certification, as these evidence the high levels of care we take on information security and data protection. I think it shows just how seriously we take our client’s data.
I’d like to give a big shout out to the Everledger team. We set out to create something that was ambitious and conceptually ‘out there’. They’ve done an incredible job of making this easy to use, but also relevant to the industry. I’m really looking forward to seeing the adoption in the next few months, along with the continued enrichment from more great features we have planned in our roadmap and I hope that our partners enjoy using it.
The new version of the platform will focus predominantly on the diamond industry for this release, but it will soon carry transferable features through to all verticals, including fine wines, gemstones, e-waste, apparel and luxury goods. 2020 will certainly prove challenging for many industries, but it will be a time of exciting transformation too. Are you curious to see what the platform looks like? You can request a demo with our team and learn all about it!