Cortilia: the e-commerce company using AI to upgrade its services and be more sustainable

Cortilia, the first Italian e-commerce company for fresh foods with short supply chains, is using artificial intelligence to help its clients select their preferred products and improve its logistics services. Set up in 2011 with the goal of delivering the finest quality foods from small local farms directly to its customers’ homes, the online platform created by Marco Porcaro now has more than 40 employees and sales totaling 9 million euros. Cortilia carefully selects its suppliers among its partners: farmers, breeders, producers and artisans in Italy. The goal is to deliver the food that customers have selected online in less than 20 hours. To optimize its services, Cortilia uses artificial intelligence and Google TensorFlow to predict purchases and to help select the preferred products.

What made you opt for AI?

“Our biggest challenges are delivering products that are very perishable and not always available, since our supplies are linked to small producers who have seasonal crops and therefore choose what to cultivate and when to do it. Cortilia promotes a company culture that is based on environmental sustainability, without overlooking the financial aspect. To do this, it is fundamental to adapt technology to the company’s specific needs while respecting its values. This improves customer service and minimizes food waste. In order to achieve these goals, artificial intelligence was of great help to us and delivered good results. From the very outset, we have developed our business through data analysis. By trying to find the most effective way to draw useful information from data, two years ago we started using artificial intelligence by developing machine learning, deep learning and reinforcement learning algorithms”.

How does the technology work?

“The technology is used in several company processes. By analyzing historical data, the algorithms elaborated with Google TensorFlow help us to give customers personalized suggestions when they are buying and to predict what they will buy with a high degree of accuracy. The same technology also helps us on the supply side, by allowing farmers to know in advance what is bought most frequently and, at the same time, to inform Cortilia of the seasonal products that are more readily available, so as to make demand meet with supply and really cut down on waste”.

What were the results?

“We were able to optimize the way we manage stocks from suppliers, reduce warehouse stock and increase sales. In fact, our recommendation algorithms enabled us to double post-checkout orders (those suggested based on consumption, before payment). And thanks to the recommendation systems, our customers shop for products that are in line with their preferences. But the result we are definitely most proud of is having cut back on surplus food to just 1%. And nothing is wasted: because even that small percentage of food is donated to the Food Bank to help people who are most in need”.

Would you recommend it to other entrepreneurs?

“Definitely. This was by all means a positive experience for us: AI makes for efficient and precise business management, so we recommend it to any company, of any size. Investments are definitely necessary, but over time these new tools bring results and improve how you do business from all points of view”.

Artificial intelligence algorithms help us to predict customer purchases very accurately and provide personalised suggestions during the buying process. Thanks to this shared predictive data, the producers only prepare what will be ordered and transported, resulting in food waste reduction to only 1%.

Marco Porcaro, CEO, Cortilia




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