Case Study

Transforming distribution: Powering profits with analytics and AI 

 

Inspire11 partners with a top food distributor to deploy an automated pricing solution powered by analytics and AI, leading to millions in margin recovery and a launching point for additional strategic AI initiatives.

Capabilities

Analytics
Business Optimization
Business Strategy
Cloud Strategy
Cloud Transformation
Data Governance
Data Visualization
Reporting

Industry

Wholesale Food & Beverage

In the rapidly evolving food distribution industry, companies are increasingly turning to technology to streamline operations and enhance profitability. This sector, characterized by thin margins and complex supply chains, demands innovative solutions to stay competitive. Artificial Intelligence and analytics emerge as pivotal tools in this landscape, offering unprecedented opportunities for optimization and strategic growth.

The Opportunity

Facing the challenge of managing an overwhelming 750,000 pricing variations, a prominent food distributor recognized a significant opportunity to enhance its margin accuracy. Their margins were consistently eroded by undetected manual errors in setting prices, and the process to identify these errors was extremely laborious. 

The food distributor had numerous complexities that needed to be addressed: the pricing rules and logic were not documented, and data pulled from disparate systems, was manually consolidated and analyzed in spreadsheets. Furthermore, there was little to no root cause analysis done to identify long-term solutions. 

More strategically, the client was interested in exploring how AI and advanced analytics could create value for its business. 

Why they chose Inspire11

The client partnered with Inspire11 because of its emphasis on combining strategy and execution, in this case specifically, speed to value using AI, analytics, and automation. The partnership was strategically formed to quickly identify and prioritize areas needing improvement. 

This included: 

  • 1 week compressed discovery across 8 business functions that led to identification and prioritization of 29 value creation opportunities. 
  • Rapid, iterative solution development over a 6-week time period. 
  • Creation of a broader digital and AI roadmap. 

The Approach

Action vs. Analysis – rapid identification, alignment, and action: The food distributor and Inspire11 agreed on a dynamic approach that emphasized swift action to capitalize on the most critical opportunities. By prioritizing initiatives based on their value, complexity, and external dependencies, the team was able to quickly identify and focus on high-impact areas. This method aimed to reduce the time spent on extensive analysis, favoring a more agile, 80/20 approach to decision-making and execution. 

Create a self-funded roadmap by unlocking real value early: The heart of the project was to iteratively work through a solution that would deliver immediate, tangible value to the food distributor – in this case, finding pricing errors through analytics. Inspire11 worked with the client side by side to validate and correct pricing errors in real-time, enabling the team to update and improve the models quickly. In an early validation session, the teams were able to find and fix a pricing error, which alone generated value surpassing the project’s costs. This early success not only funded the subsequent phases of the analytics and AI initiatives but also cultivated substantial goodwill and support within the client’s management team, setting a solid foundation for more ambitious projects. 

Build on the momentum with bigger AI bets: With the groundwork laid by the initial achievements, Inspire11 and the client collaboratively developed an expansive roadmap for AI and analytics. This roadmap envisioned more complex ventures, such as recommendation engines, promotion optimization, and automated order creation. To support these initiatives, the team established the necessary technical infrastructure and operational frameworks to ensure the food distributor was not only prepared to implement sophisticated AI solutions but also positioned to realize the full potential of these technologies in driving business growth and innovation. The partnership then led to the creation of multiple AI/ML-driven solutions that addressed multiple areas of the business from sales to operations.

Harnessing the power of analytics and AI to recover $3.4 million in margins and slash processing time from weeks to minutes. 

Impact & Outcomes

The partnership with Inspire11 helped the food distributor kickstart its AI and analytics transformation. The sophisticated AI solution not only recovered lost margins but also reinvented the distributor’s broader analytics capabilities and operations.

Margin recovery

The solutions led to the recovery of multiple millions in margin, by automatically and precisely pinpointing instances of underpriced goods.

Efficiency enhancement

The time required for report development and analysis went from days and weeks to minutes, liberating analysts to focus their efforts on higher value-adding activities. 

Launch of additional AI initiatives

The value created helped fund bigger initiatives addressing sales and operational opportunities as well as the modernization of core foundational pieces, such as infrastructure and team. 

Knowing where to start your AI and digital journey might seem daunting, but the transformation is critical to maintain and grow your competitive position. At Inspire11, we know how to harness the power of practical AI solutions to create meaningful value across both revenue enhancement opportunities and operational efficiencies. We’re here to guide you every step of the way. Start your AI journey today!  

Ready to build your AI and analytics roadmap?

Other recent work

The future belongs to the disruptors. The people who create radical change by challenging complacent business models, industries, and ways of working. The following case studies show how the organizations we work with are disrupting the world around them to create a better tomorrow for all.