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Artificial Intelligence Offers New Strategies for Manufacturers

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HOUSTON, 7 November 2017 —

If you’ve ever visited one of Amazon’s bookstores, you probably had a shopping experience that didn’t include price tags. This is because rather than relying on a static price, the cost of Amazon’s merchandise changes in real time.

Industry experts are forecasting that the use of dynamic pricing may eventually be adopted by Whole Foods, thanks to Amazon’s recent acquisition of the grocery chain. While consumers are excited about the idea of a more tech-savvy experience at the supermarket, many food manufacturers may be left feeling vulnerable.

The exponential growth of technology can often leave companies in a state of panic, wondering how they will ever keep pace. While change can be overwhelming, innovation is not slowing down. With the explosion of big data, the food industry can look to aspects of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and dynamic pricing science to improve sales processes and remain competitive.

When leveraged correctly, AI can increase productivity, improve the customer experience and most importantly, boost profitability. A recent study by Accenture Research finds that industries that embrace AI could improve their profitability by an average of 38 percent by 2035, which could lead to an economic boost of $14 trillion in additional gross value added across 16 industries in 12 countries. The time is now for the food industry to embrace the opportunities these technologies offer and adapt accordingly.

Here are three ways AI can optimize selling in the food industry:

 

  1. Turnaround time – Time to quote is a critical component when it comes to customer engagement. According to InsideSales.com, 50 percent of deals are won by the vendor that responds first. Static, outdated processes that were once designed to protect margins today represent lost revenue. When algorithmic rules take care of a lot of the work, less time is needed to arrive at a quote.
  2. Fair pricing – While speed is essential, you stand to lose a deal if the price exceeds the customer’s willingness to pay. AI can help humans increase the speed and accuracy of quotes. Quote and price optimization, made possible by AI-driven insights, simplifies the process of deciding a fair price. Like Amazon, food manufacturers can deploy tools that deliver price guidance based on current market price, transaction history, willingness to pay and other elements.
  3. Control of price negotiations – As many as 10 people can be involved in approving a pricing deal. That’s unnecessary with current technology and tools. Data-science-driven pricing minimizes the obstacles and internal touchpoints involved in sending a quote. Giving your salespeople the autonomy to negotiate directly with the customer, and the authority to quote without multiple layers of oversight and approvals, eliminates frustrations and quote iterations that can ultimately cost you the deal.

 

In today’s era of modern commerce, various forms of artificial intelligence are arming the food industry with the information needed to enhance customer interactions. By eliminating administrative tasks of the past, AI is also providing salespeople with more time to concentrate on higher-value tasks, such as building relationships and making sales. While AI is often associated with robots, driverless cars and more abstract applications, B2B food companies should feel empowered to implement these technologies into their sales processes.

Emily Hart is Senior Industry Solutions Manager for PROS, Inc.

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