Chatbots in Procurement: Now and the Future

Explore how chatbots in procurement have begun to reshape the industry and the exciting possibilities that come along with this technology.

By Hugo Britt | October 17, 2023


“Hey, Procurement?” 

“Yes, Dave?” 

“Contact Supplier X’s chatbot and see if you can negotiate a 15-day increase on payment terms for all products.”

“Sure, Dave. What is your BATNA?”

You’ve probably interacted with several chatbots as an online customer, but have you ever used a procurement chatbot to make your job easier? The integration of AI and chatbots into procurement processes has begun to reshape the industry, and the potential benefits are vast.

In this article, we explore where we are now in terms of procurement chatbots and predict some exciting possibilities for the future.

The current state of chatbots in procurement

Chatbots are intelligent systems, designed to assist procurement teams by automating tasks, providing real-time support to end-users, and enhancing overall efficiency.

Here’s a glimpse of where we stand now:

Automating Routine Tasks
Chatbots can handle repetitive and time-consuming tasks such as order processing, invoice validation, and supplier communication. This frees up procurement professionals to focus on strategic activities.

Enhancing User Experience
Procurement chatbots offer a user-friendly interface that simplifies the procurement process. They can guide end-users through catalog searches, item selection, and purchase requisition submissions, improving the overall experience for employees. Learn more about why UX is important in procurement.

24/7 Support
Chatbots are available round the clock to assist users with their purchasing requests and inquiries. This ensures that procurement support is readily accessible at any time, increasing efficiency and reducing delays.

Data Insights
Chatbots can analyze procurement data in real-time, providing valuable insights to procurement professionals. This data-driven approach helps in making informed decisions, optimizing supplier relationships, and identifying cost-saving opportunities.

Training and Onboarding
Endlessly patient, chatbots can assist in training and onboarding new procurement team members or anyone who requires a refresh. They provide instant access to training materials, answer questions, and facilitate the learning process, reducing the time and effort required for training.

Chatbots in procurement are currently being used to modernize the industry by helping provide 24/7 support, training and onboarding assistance, data insights and more.

The future of chatbots in procurement

The future of chatbots holds even more exciting possibilities for procurement. Here are some potential benefits that organizations can expect in the coming years:

Advanced Conversational AI

We’ve all seen the capabilities of ChatGPT. Future chatbots will boast improved natural language processing capabilities, allowing for more sophisticated and context-aware conversations. This means they can understand nuanced requests and provide more precise responses.

Predictive Analysis

Chatbots will leverage predictive analytics to anticipate procurement needs. They will be able to suggest alternative suppliers, forecast demand, and proactively identify potential supply chain disruptions, allowing organizations to take proactive measures.

Integration with Emerging Technologies

Chatbots will seamlessly integrate with emerging technologies such as blockchain and IoT to enhance supply chain visibility, traceability, and security. This will help in building trust with suppliers and customers alike.

Cost Optimization

AI-driven chatbots will continuously monitor procurement processes and expenses, identifying areas where cost savings can be achieved. They will also have the potential to negotiate with suppliers (or suppliers’ chatbots) in real-time to secure better deals.

Cross-Functional Collaboration

In the future, chatbots will help facilitate cross-functional collaboration. They will connect with finance, legal, and other departments to ensure that procurement activities comply with regulations and financial objectives.

Enhanced Training and Development

Procurement chatbots will serve as personalized virtual trainers, adapting to each team member’s learning style and needs. They will simulate real-world scenarios for training purposes, ensuring that procurement professionals are well-prepared for any situation.

Chatbots in procurement are poised to greatly impact the function in the future. They'll be used to promote collaboration, predict sourcing needs, monitor expenses and identify savings opportunities.

Want to Chat?

Una has been using chatbots on our site for a few years now. The technology gives visitors an easier and quicker way to consume content, schedule meetings with our Sourcing Advisors, and contact our Member Experience department. As procurement continues to evolve, we’re always looking for ways to remain agile and incorporate tools that facilitate sourcing success for our Members.

Even so, there is still something to be said for having real conversations – with real people! If at any time you’re looking to reach our team, please feel free to skip the chatbot and fill out the Contact Us form. One of our team members will personally reach out within 24 hours. 

Looking for more insight into procurement software and IT spend solutions? Check out some of our recent guides 👇 

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