On Episode 18 of The Future of Supply Chain, we speak with Shastri Mahadeo of Union Crate to discuss how AI is empowering the consumer supply chain. Based in New York City, Union Crate is a supply chain platform that simplifies demand planning and daily operations for consumer goods companies. Shastri founded Union Crate in 2016 when he discovered a need that many of his previous ventures had faced, how to determine customer demand at a timely and cost effective way. Shastri and his team have now created a suite of products that a brand or distributor may use for tackling any of their supply chain problems.
The majority of large CPG companies are still implementing archaic processes to determine market demands. They rely heavily on past internal sales performance of a specific products or customers to make future decisions. Shastri believes these simplistic views are holding companies back, as they are over-using resources on manually analyzing data that may or may not be relevant to their approach. These methods have been around for over 100 years and the average forecast error rates are still between 50–60%, which is costing companies millions of dollars every year. AI platforms such as Union Crate are better suited for predicting possible outcomes for why consumers buy products.
Union Crate’s Solution
Union Crate’s platform is able to to take a company’s existing internal and third party information and reorganize it into more pertinent data. This means they can classify products based on consumer demand in real time and accurately forecast what products need to be sold in what areas. This approach is something that humans are not able to do, as they can only make decisions based off expensive third party solutions such as Nielsen. Union Crate’s information can then be translated into the supply chain process, and will be applicable to other operations such as marketing, sales, or logistics.
The future of supply chain will be a wholistic approach, one that is hinged entirely on customer demand, believes Shastri. Companies will not just look at supply and demand individually, they will make decisions that insight change up and down every aspect of the supply chain. Platforms like Union Crate’s own “Stargate” will help businesses integrate legacy systems into their current operations, and allow past information to merge seamlessly with newer findings. “The future will be proactive and less reactive”, argues Shastri. Meaning companies will need to find better ways to make customers happy, in order to increase the bottom line and simplify operations.