Krystal Produce implements AI for streamlined order processing – The Packer

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Krystal Produce says it is addressing challenges with order processing by implementing artificial-intelligence technology from Choco.

Choco is a European company with operations in seven countries around the world whose core technology is about making order processing better for restaurants and food suppliers, Georgie Thomas, managing director, head of the U.S. for Choco, told The Packer.

“Our focus lies primarily on order management and processing within the food supply industry, aiming to alleviate the labor-intensive and error-prone nature traditionally associated with these tasks, which not only incur significant time and cost but also contribute to food waste, a major contributor to climate change,” Thomas said.

Our AI product is capable of capturing orders that come through various channels including email, phone calls or texts and processes these orders digitally and feeds them back into the ERP system, ensuring that all orders, regardless of their origin, are handled digitally, he said.

“This enables our partner suppliers to achieve 100% digital order processing,” Thomas said.

Through its technology, the company has effectively reduced error rates to near-zero levels by providing a user-friendly app interface coupled with AI-powered digital processing, tailored order guides based on historical data and the ability to handle orders from various channels seamlessly, he said.

“This not only enhances operational efficiency but also empowers workforce productivity without necessarily displacing jobs, as exemplified by the transformative impact witnessed in the case of Krystal Produce,” Thomas said.

With gradual adoption and expansion of our AI solutions, businesses can experience substantial time savings, cost reductions, and improved accuracy, ultimately leading to enhanced overall performance and customer satisfaction, he said.

(Image courtesy of Choco)

“Like many other food wholesalers, we’ve been battling staff shortages for the last few years. The specific job that Choco AI addresses, logging customer orders, tends to be tedious,” Mike Longo, owner and CEO of Krystal Produce, told The Packer.

“Most people don’t want to transcribe voicemails for hours on end. The manual process of logging orders also tends to generate a decent number of errors, which can lead to lost revenue because we always want to make things right with our customers,” Longo said.
 
Choco AI has improved the efficiency and accuracy of order processing at Krystal Produce, he said.

“Choco’s AI has essentially put our order processing on autopilot, with very little human intervention required. When a customer calls or emails in with their order, the technology automatically captures it, inputs into our back-end inventory system and creates an order,” he said. 

With Choco, the company’s errors have gone down significantly while the number of orders its able to log has gone up — currently averaging about 13 seconds per order — he said. 

“This means that one member of our team can handle an order volume that previously took five people. These freed-up resources have allowed our team to focus on growth-oriented activities, such as improving inside sales and customer acquisition efforts,” Longo said. 
 
Krystal Produce says approximately 150 customers push through 1,500 orders each month via the Choco app. 

“Even with that volume, we’ve seen very few order mistakes, and recently achieved a ‘zero issues or problems’ milestone,” he said. 

In terms of cost and time savings, “we’ve been tracking how Choco AI has impacted one of our biggest customers and found that we save 15 hours per week for our largest client, which comes out to $23,000 in annual savings for this customer alone,” Longo said. 
 
Longo said the features of Choco AI that have been most beneficial for Krystal Produce in streamlining its supply chain management include timing savings and the ability to free up staff to do work that has a greater value for the business.

Choco’s algorithms have been able to gradually learn different language characteristics, languages, and accents across the company’s customers, sometimes even better than a human, he said. Choco AI uses the customer’s order history to ensure that orders go directly into their system without errors that could arise from language barriers or miscommunication. 

“Because many of the people who work in food service aren’t native English speakers, this is huge. This ultimately cuts down on errors, keeps our customers happy and saves us money,” Longo said.
 
The technology is smart enough to understand a variety of different accents and speaking styles and has been able to learn over time what Krystal’s customers want, he said.

“When a regular calls in and simply says ‘give me the usual,’ the AI can look at past orders and know exactly what that means. It allows us to move faster, get orders out the door and reduce errors,” Longo said.
 
Looking ahead, Krystal Produce anticipates additional functionalities from Choco AI.

“We would love to see more features that improve upon what our ERP currently does for us, as well as offerings that empower our sales team, for example by creating more targeted proposals for prospects,” he said. 

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