Afternoon Coffee: AI to Help U.S. Grocery Chains; Marijuana Businesses Get Boost From Congress

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Some of the biggest grocery chains in the U.S. are turning to artificial intelligence.

Grocery chains owned by conglomerate Koninklijke Ahold Delhaize NV, such as Food Lion and Stop & Shop, are turning to artificial intelligence to boost performance. The system used will give Ahold a better view of inventory in their stores and warehouses, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The AI will also be used for forecasting demand, improving precision, and cutting down on safety stocks. This will give Ahold greater visibility across their brands, an important asset in modern sales.

Companies Pressing Congress to Allow Marijuana Businesses to Use Banks

While marijuana use and distribution is now legal in increasing numbers of US states, it remains illegal at the federal level. This means that marijuana businesses are unable to use banks, and must work on a cash basis.

Fertilizer and beverage companies, as well as financial firms, are now pushing Congress to allow the use of banks, as this effectively locks them out of business with marijuana companies, according to the WSJ. They want a change in federal law to allow marijuana-related transactions within banks.

Canadian National Railway Company Acquires Trucking Firm

The Manitoba-based trucking firm, TransX, has been acquired by the Canadian National Railway Company for an undisclosed sum. The two parties reached a deal back in October 2018, with completion coming last week.

TransX has been partnered with CN for a number of years now. As part of the deal, CN will now gain 1,500 trucks, 4,000 trailers, 1,000 containers/chassis, 12 terminals, and 3,000 employees.

Enterprises’ Use of Contingent Workforce Grows and Business Case is Strong, Research Finds

Spend Matters Analyst Andrew Karpie recently covered the Economist Intelligence Unit’s February 2019 report, “Sourcing and Managing Talent in a Gig Economy,” which found that employing contingent workers can have a significant upside for companies despite some costs and a fair amount of preparation, according to Karpie (and likely no surprise to most procurement practitioners and contingent workforce managers).

"While contingent workforce can deliver many kinds of significant benefits to organizations, everything comes with off-setting costs," Karpie writes. "And many of these costs arise because organizations today have quite some way to go in establishing the right processes, capabilities and culture for effectively engaging contingent workers."

Read Karpie's full breakdown of the survey and his analysis right here.

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