AI and chatbots: the key to a healthy supply chain

AI and chatbots: the key to a healthy supply chain
November 12, 2021  |  BY

There was a time when “supply chain” was a term that you’d only hear in business meetings or read in industry-related articles. But now the average person has an awareness of what supply chains are and how they directly affect our lives. Due to the global pandemic, there’s a shortage of consumer goods, auto parts, computer chips, you name it. Without a smoothly flowing supply chain, we can’t get the products we need. And neither can businesses.

In order for there to be efficiency, companies require consistent communication with suppliers, efficient logistics, and inventory management. These are the necessary activities for any item to get from point A to point B to the buyer’s hands.

To overcome today’s distribution challenges, companies are turning to what’s become know as Supply Chain 4.0. This refers to how new technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and chatbots are getting supply and demand back in alignment to meet business and consumer expectations.

That’s because AI connects every part of the supply chain, with chatbots (which are based on AI) driving efficiency based on analytics, predictive models, and 24/7 communication between companies. In fact, businesses are already realizing large gains from Supply Chain 4.0. According to the Inter-American Development Bank, AI technologies have helped companies increase order fulfillment by 7% and profit by 15%.

This is possible because today’s AI-driven technologies streamline complex processes and sustain constant communication with everyone involved in the supply chain for a given product.

Chatbots are a critical cog in this wheel, as they coordinate processes and manage large sets of data. Specifically, chatbots manage inventory to control the quantity of products, either in warehouses or in physical stores. As such, they make sure that the end customer will receive what they ordered, when it was promised.

Every aspect of the supply chain is inter-related. That’s why chatbots are so useful, as they also foster efficient logistics and transportation. This is key, as time and circumstances to ship products directly affects delivery time and ultimately customer satisfaction. Chatbots are connected to satellite tracking systems that can observe when products are passed from one part of the chain to another. The chatbots can then alert customers of the movement of the product, and even suggest the most efficient delivery path to ensure prompt delivery.

In turn, chatbots improve how you make decisions. More than a method of communication, chatbots can assess vast and deep databases, allowing for the creation of predictive models that drive new product development and enhance the customer experience.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of chatbots is that they learn, so over time they improve in all the various ways they can serve your enterprise. This is due to machine learning. With each process they’re involved with along the supply chain, the chatbots become faster, smarter, and more efficient. You can never predict with certainty what products may appear a few years from today, but with chatbots, we can now have a pretty good idea that supply will be able to meet demand.