Supply meets demand: New sourcing automation solution targets ocean freight procurement


This article is brought to you by Retail Technology Review: Supply meets demand: New sourcing automation solution targets ocean freight procurement.

Global provider of Intelligent Sourcing Automation, Keelvar, has launched its new AI-powered ocean freight sourcing automation solution.

This latest automation offering helps procurement teams offload work while remaining agile and responsive to dynamic changes experienced by global supply chains - including disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Several blue-chip customers have already employed the solution within their procurement organisations.

Keelvar’s new automation product provides an intelligent sourcing software bot specifically designed for ocean logistics spend and leverages Keelvar’s Sourcing Optimizer platform to improve sourcing decisions. The sourcing bot aims to vastly boost efficiency and quality for both buyers and carriers in handling many of the detailed, repetitive tasks associated with smaller bidding events that arise frequently and often unpredictably for companies shipping goods globally.

The launch of Keelvar’s ocean freight sourcing automation comes in the midst of an interesting time of growth and transformation for the procurement sector. The industry is experiencing a sizable shift towards automation and AI, which is enabling companies to survive uncertainty and assist with business continuity. 

According to recent research from The Supply Chain Management Institute, 97 percent of organizations have already been impacted by supply chain disruptions due to COVID-19. On the back of this, procurement for the ocean freight sector remains hugely important, with studies revealing ocean freight is the most common form of transport for importers and exporters, accounting for 90 percent of goods distributed worldwide. Unexpected changes felt in ocean freight transport have included decreased capacity, rate and demand fluctuations, and carrier limitations. 

Keelvar’s solution meets the need that arises when market changes require buyers to rapidly secure new carrier agreements through spot bidding negotiations. As sourcing teams launch spot bidding events, they benefit from offloading the most time-consuming tasks to the Keelvar ocean sourcing bot while retaining final control of award decisions. Bot-automated tasks can include initiating events with carriers; collecting and validating bid data; communicating deadlines and reminders; analysing bid data against award preferences; and recommending optimal award decisions. Through the use of AI, the bots will learn from repeated processes and buyer preferences over time to further increase efficiency and improve outcomes.

Keelvar implemented its groundbreaking new ocean freight sourcing automation among several early-adopter customers this year, testing and validating the bots in real-world sourcing events, before making a broader market announcement. Some of those initial ocean sourcing automation customers have reported time and productivity savings of up to 93 percent. This allows teams to free up significant time to focus on strategic work and best practices. 

Speaking on the launch of their new ocean freight automation solution, Founder and CEO of Keelvar, Alan Holland said: “The world is changing at an ever-faster pace, and procurement can be an important agent of change, given the trillions of dollars that are overseen by large enterprises. Agility in responding to supply chain disruptions, as we’ve seen in 2020, is crucial to success. Sourcing bots are ready 24/7 to source alternative supply lines when needed. This frees up personnel to build trust and relationships in strategic longer-term negotiations. Sourcing Automation can also help find more efficient and more environmentally-friendly alternatives that lead to win-win outcomes.”

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