The food supply chain is due for an upgrade. Businesses and consumers are feeling the pressure, with widespread shortages causing prices to skyrocket. Both the private and public sectors are doing what they can to respond to industry. The Biden administration recently announced a multibillion-dollar investment in chain strengthening, as companies examine their own supply chains and seek to identify places where it can be strengthened.

Of course, to solve a problem, you have to understand it. This is where analysis comes in. New York-based open data platform Crisp recently announced a partnership with United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI), the leading independent distributor of specialty foods in the United States, to deliver consumer products (CPG )) Food and beverage brands access UNFI data. Of course, data visibility is only the first step.

Are Traasdahl, Founder and CEO of Crisp

Are Traasdahl, Founder and CEO of Crisp

“Data is essential for food and beverage brands to get a clear picture of their business as products move along the value chain, and it helps them make informed decisions that improve their efficiency and grow in the market, ”Are Traasdahl, Founder and CEO of Crisp. , PYMNTS said in an interview. “For many brands, the challenge is not the existence of data, but how to harness all that data to get actionable insights in real time. “

Traasdahl added that Crisp’s solution “automat[es] the process of ingesting and aggregating data from retailers and distributors to bring out important trends and insights, ”turning raw numbers into information brands can actually use.

Teamwork is the source of dream work

One of the central ideas behind Crisp’s approach to data is that businesses work best when they work together. This need for cooperation is particularly acute right now, with everyone feeling the impact of today’s supply chain constraints, and businesses can benefit from the lessons learned throughout the pandemic so far. .

“The recent price changes and supply chain disruptions largely echo what we saw last year with the pandemic,” Traasdahl said. “One trend we saw was that partners who collaborated and shared data with each other managed these changes better, and they were able to respond and deploy solutions faster. “

He noted that sharing data makes the entire supply chain “stronger and more agile,” which is especially needed now, as companies navigate unpredictable conditions – “unprecedented demand, shifts in demand. channels, changing availability of raw materials and rapidly changing purchasing patterns “- of today’s food supply chain.

The idea that companies can see data sharing as a benefit for all parties, rather than a zero-sum game, is part of the reasons UNFI chose to work with Crisp, Traasdahl said, noting that the food distributor “shares our vision that better visibility and information lead to better business operations.

The central principles of “programmatic commerce”

This kind of collaboration and data sharing enables what Crisp describes as “programmatic commerce” – which, Traasdahl said, aims to “effectively match supply with demand at speed and scale.”

One of those elements is to provide insight into “leading trends such as sales and distribution” – which helps retailers keep shelves well stocked while helping brands meet demand – and enables to all those involved to “spot new opportunities [to work] together to put the products in the right stores. Another element of this approach to commerce is to monitor inventory in real time to avoid both shortages and waste, avoiding supply chain issues rather than having to scramble to resolve them after the fact. .

“Finally, the data helps create a more complete view of the market and the consumer, so that everything from products to promotions in any location can deliver what consumers are looking for,” said Traasdahl.

By tailoring offerings to both the market and the individual consumer, brands and retailers can generate a higher return on investment and set themselves apart from their competitors.

Democratize data for a connected supply chain

Looking to the future, Traasdahl believes the process will become increasingly technological. He predicted that the main players will be those who “take advantage of[e] big data, machine learning, AI and automation to enable faster decision making, more precise course corrections, and more seamless coordination between all moving parts along the supply chain.

Of course, the grocery store is automating. Take, for example, the global proliferation of cashierless grocery checkouts, seamlessly integrating digital payments into the physical experience and enabling retailers, through the use of computer vision, to better understand customer behaviors. consumers in store. Conversely, digital store-wide integrations such as responsive displays allow physical stores to deliver many of the benefits of online grocery shopping to in-store shoppers.

These types of integrations can help chart a course for the future that Crisp envisions for grocery shopping: “a truly 360 º view of the consumer that creates a seamless in-store and online experience. “

As these initiatives combine digital experience with physical experience, Traasdahl believes trends across the industry point to the rise of the connected economy, with previously separate categories working together and with all actors having access to this unified ecosystem.

“We have more data than ever before, and it will only continue to grow, increasingly enabled by cloud-based solutions,” said Traasdahl. “We see the breakdown of silos leading to data interconnection that will dramatically improve the way food distribution works. “

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About the study: The AI ​​In Focus: The Bank Technology Roadmap is a research and interview report examining how banks are using artificial intelligence and other advanced IT systems to improve credit risk management and other aspects of their operations. The Playbook is based on a survey of 100 banking executives and is part of a larger series assessing the potential of AI in finance, healthcare, and others.