Data reliability

Purchasing department: optimizing time with artificial intelligence

DATE: 05/05/2022

Record inflation in Europe, the waltz of labels: retailers and their purchasing managers are faced this year with issues that put teams under pressure. Indeed, more than half of the countries in the euro zone have seen price increases exceeding 10%. Although European authorities are trying to act to limit this phenomenon, there is no indication that the trend will be reversed in the coming months. 

On their side, retailers have to act quickly to adapt to this high level of inflation and to consumers whose behavior is changing. To do so, many retailers have to make price updates to keep up with customer trends and expectations. It is easy to imagine the extra workload for the purchasing department, especially if they are done manually.

In this context of high tension, using artificial intelligence (AI) is a first choice solution to adjust its strategy.
Let's discover how AI can help a purchasing department by saving precious time.

The retail sector is subject to high economic stakes 

If you're a purchasing manager, you can't have been unaware of the sharp increase in prices from your suppliers. According to a survey conducted in 2022, 93% of the professionals questioned say that inflation has an impact on their activity. Even if some of them consider reducing margins or freezing investments, the price increase is a must for 9 out of 10 respondents. However, there is no question of proceeding in a global and uniform manner. It is necessary to be reactive and to apply decisions on a case-by-case basis to determine the optimum amount for each product. Competition, demand variations, stock levels: all these parameters come into play and should not be underestimated.   

How to do this when thousands of references are concerned? The various crises experienced by retailers have forced them to consider new ways of working. Among the changes that have been initiated, digital transformation and digitization are providing real solutions. Indeed, artificial intelligence is proving to be a real performance lever

For example, the automation of certain processes allows the company to be efficient by : 

  • improving decision making; 
  • achieving significant savings; 
  • entrusting employees with higher value-added tasks.

The benefits of AI for purchasing departments

Artificial intelligence allows, thanks to algorithms, to automate repetitive or time-consuming tasks for humans. The uses are infinite and the benefits of AI are strategic for purchasing departments .Let's see in practice what these benefits are for your company.

Improve the quality of product information 

AI can handle thousands of pieces of data from various sources: brochures, catalogs, business software. Putting products online requires complete and accurate information and relevant images. When you know that each supplier has a specific way of filling a catalog, you can quickly see the problems involved. Most of the time, it is a question of missing or false information, of attributes filled in differently depending on the source. AI allows you to avoid input errors. Thus, you offer the consumer a better user experience thanks to enriched and reliable product data.  

Increase the efficiency of data processing 

Data is indexed in real time, according to the timing you have chosen. Anomalies, duplicates and trends are identified immediately. You have at your disposal reliable, complete data that is an objective aid to decision-making. This reactivity is decisive in a highly competitive sector where processes evolve very quickly. 

Reduce turnaround time and associated costs 

Processing product files is extremely time-consuming and tedious. This is true for the suppliers who fill them in, but also for your employees who check them and integrate them into your database. 

Artificial intelligence simplifies the relationship between you and your supplier with simple tools that take your product data in hand. AI adapts to your bill of materials and is able to process a large volume of information in a relatively short time. 

It can also detect duplicates and clean the database with a margin of error of less than 5%. This allows your employees to focus on more value-added tasks. 

Adjust product prices according to demand and competition 

With AI-based solutions, retailers can optimize their pricing by taking into account objective variables. These include competitive pricing, consumer reaction to price changes and seasonal demand. 

By monitoring market prices or understanding your customers' choices, you can adjust the prices of thousands of items. All this while managing their individual specifications and without overloading them. 

Optimize inventory

With predictive analytics and AI-driven trajectories, retailers can implement relevant sourcing and stocking strategies. This ensures that you always have the right product in stock at the right time. 

Provide a better customer experience 

Customers want products that are tailored to their needs. With increased online competition, anticipating consumer behavior in the midst of inflation is a real asset to stand out. Artificial intelligence provides visitors with targeted offers based on their experience on the site and the comments left by other shoppers. 

Suggesting relevant products via personalized recommendations ensures a better user experience.

Purchasing department: save time with Unifai's AI 

Centralize all data on our supplier portal

Spreadsheets and text documents: product information exists in many forms and each vendor has its own terminology. The supplier transmits, via a dedicated space, its new price list, more or less detailed. Sometimes this file may only contain the name of the product and its new price. Details such as category and attributes will not always be present in this new file. 

With Unifai, you centralize and automate the updating of your tariffs. Centralize the reception of files via our supplier portal and structure your supplier exchanges. Thanks to our match history module, Unifai detects the products already known by the system and updates their characteristics (here the price).

Easily synthesize all your business rules

In the context of inflation, many of you and your suppliers are trying to find solutions to preserve the purchasing power of your consumers. The implementation of all types of discounts is not the easiest thing to do. Indeed, it is frequent to see misunderstandings, errors or duplications appearing during exchanges with your suppliers. 

Sometimes, several business rules have to be taken into account, such as 

  • Buying in a pack can lead to discounts. 
  • Buying in certain sales places can lead to discounts.

The Unifai platform offers an automated process. All you have to do is implement the supplier's catalog and all the business rules that refer to it, and then Unifai's algorithms centralize all this data. 

Automatically synchronize tariff updates to your internal systems 

With our solution, you will categorize products according to the structure of your catalog. You can also reconcile data from your subsidiaries and your central office to optimize purchasing. Finally, thanks to Unifai's API, you can pass on pricing updates to all your internal tools (ERP, pricing management solution) in real time.

What the Unifai platform offers you: 

  • Reactivity: you reduce delays thanks to the automatic integration of products in your catalog.  
  • Simplicity: our very intuitive interface is usable by your employees and your suppliers.
  • Quality: in just a few clicks, you get reliable, enriched data that boosts your conversion rate. 

Discover our services now by requesting a demo.  

Isabelle Jullien

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