AI and Procurement

Manufacturing & Service Operations Management

36 Pages Posted: 5 May 2020 Last revised: 7 Dec 2020

See all articles by Ruomeng Cui

Ruomeng Cui

Emory University - Goizueta Business School

Meng Li

University of Houston - Department of Decision & Information Sciences

Shichen Zhang

Nankai University - Business School

Date Written: April 7, 2020


In a world advancing toward Artificial Intelligence (AI), we explore how AI creates and delivers value in procurement. AI has two unique abilities: automation and smartness, which are associated with physical machines or software that enable us to operate more efficiently and effectively. In this research, we study how buyers' usage of AI affects suppliers' price quoting strategies. Specifically, we study the impact of automation — i.e., the buyer uses a chat-bot to automatically inquire prices instead of asking in person — and the impact of smartness — i.e., the buyer signals the usage of a smart AI algorithm in selecting the supplier. We collaborate with a trading company to run a field experiment on an online platform in which we compare suppliers' wholesale price quotes across female, male, and chat-bot buyer types under AI and no recommendation conditions. We find that, when not equipped with a smart control, there is price discrimination against chat-bot buyers who receive a higher wholesale price quote than human buyers. However, signaling the use of a smart recommendation system can effectively reduce suppliers' price quote for chat-bot buyers. We also show that AI delivers the most value when buyers adopt automation and smartness simultaneously in procurement.

Keywords: Artificial Intelligence, Procurement, Wholesale Pricing, Automation, Smartness

Suggested Citation

Cui, Ruomeng and Li, Meng and Zhang, Shichen, AI and Procurement (April 7, 2020). Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, Available at SSRN: or

Ruomeng Cui (Contact Author)

Emory University - Goizueta Business School ( email )

1300 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States


Meng Li

University of Houston - Department of Decision & Information Sciences ( email )

United States

Shichen Zhang

Nankai University - Business School ( email )

Baidi Road
Tianjin, 300071

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