Smart Logistics: Driving Retail Innovation with AI-Optimized Appointments

Retailers were the first adopters of C.H. Robinson’s AI-optimized appointments for pickup and delivery, and it’s saving them time and money at their loading docks while also improving their speed to market.

As a logistics company that serves 7,500 retailers, the breakthrough technology we created has automated a process that’s done more than 1 billion times a year across the United States. Our technology not only automates the process of booking appointments, but it also uses artificial intelligence to determine the optimal appointment.

Traditionally, people call or email to find an appointment that works for the pickup location, the truck driver and the delivery location. That can take all day. The loading dock manager may be too busy to answer the phone. They may be swamped with requests. It may take several emails back and forth to settle on a mutually agreeable time. Retailers now get the benefit of appointments scheduled in less than two minutes with no manual work and zero time spent.

But it’s not just a faster, more efficiently scheduled appointment. It’s a better appointment. A retailer’s warehouse or distribution center can be only so good at deciding the best time, because they have limited data points. They’re unlikely to know where the truck is starting from or if they’re allowing a realistic amount of time for the truck to get to point A. It’s hard for them to know how long a driver typically waits at point A for loading and or how long it will  take to get to point B depending on traffic, road conditions, the weather or the driver stopping to eat. Tech combined with artificial intelligence can take into account vast amounts of data to choose, request and book the most beneficial appointment.

That reduces the chance of a retailer’s products arriving too early or too late, trucks being turned away or appointments needing to be rescheduled at the last minute. Retailers count on getting the right product at the right time on the right shelf. Only a smoothly running supply chain makes that possible.

Noah Hoffman

VP of retail logistics
C.H. Robinson

Transforming Retail Logistics