B2B Integration

Automate onboarding and collaboration with smaller trading partners

By Brian Bailey posted Fri June 05, 2020 01:43 PM


In times of great change companies must be agile and responsive to ensure that they maintain their businesses, which includes connecting and trading with all customers and suppliers, even the smallest. Automation can help. While disruptions, like the current global pandemic, increase the need and urgency for automation, they don’t resolve the challenges that keep many organizations from automating B2B transactions with their smaller suppliers and customers.     

An IDC report shows that more than 33% of organizations still use manual forms and fax for their business transactions1. Among the biggest reasons they cite for not addressing these situations with automation is “IT spending priorities” (54%) and “Lack of tools” (33%)2.   There are also the complications that smaller customers and suppliers may lack the technology required for traditional B2B integration, possess insufficient skills and/or be unwilling/unable to change the way they do business.  If there weren’t challenges, these partners would be automated already.  

To help you digitize and automate B2B transactions with every trading partner – including smaller partners that lack the technology and expertise to support EDI transactions – we offer the following solutions.

  • IBM Sterling Supplier Transaction Manager, formerly IBM Sterling Web Forms Supplier Community
  • IBM Sterling Customer Transaction Manager, formerly IBM Sterling Web Forms Customer Community
  • IBM Sterling Catalog Manager, formerly IBM Sterling Web Forms Supplier Catalog and Customer Catalog

Your partners only need internet access to start connecting and collaborating efficiently and cost-effectively with you. Here are three ways these solutions help you and your smaller suppliers and customers work better together: 

  1. Automate the onboarding process. Automate registration and information gathering of suppliers and customers through the IBM Sterling Transaction Manager powerful web portal. There’s no need to manually contact partners, form partner agreements and collect information.

  1. Digitize and automate transactions. Create, exchange and view documents without asking your partners to change their way of doing business. Sterling Supplier Transaction Manager allows you to submit documents, such as a Purchase Order (P.O.) in EDI format, via the web portal to your suppliers and converts into a format they can view and use. They can create and send back P.O. acknowledgements, advanced shipping notices (ASNs) and other documents, either uploading documents to the web portal or entering the data directly into an online form. The solution ensures compliance with EDI and business rules and handles the document conversion so that supplier documents can be brought into your systems for viewing and processing without manual intervention. Use Sterling Customer Transaction Manager to adopt the same processes in reverse with your smaller customers and gain similar efficiencies. Smaller retailers can generate a P.O. more easily in a format your systems can use, which streamlines your sales process.
  2. Share product information easily. With Sterling Catalog Manager, smaller suppliers can share their product catalogs and updates with you, uploading detailed product information such as models, configurations and prices through a web portal. The solution generates an EDI product catalog or other structured file for use by your enterprise’s ERP system. You can also make it easier for your smaller, non-EDI customers to order products from you by distributing curated product catalogs via the web portal, including business rules and the ordering process.

As we move to the “next normal,” the ability to adapt to change, including churn and shifts in trading partner networks, will be part of every business’ strategy. Our focus here at IBM is on supporting you as you accelerate your path to resiliency and agility. To help, we are offering eligible organizations special discounts on 12-month contracts for Sterling Transaction Manager.

If you want to learn more about IBM Sterling Catalog Manager read the blog "Now You Can Also Use Web Forms to Support Customers and Catalogs" and if you want more information on SCBN watch “See what's new in Sterling Supply Chain Business Network” in the Supply Chain Academy


1 Data Exchange in the Era of Digital Transformation, An IDC InfoBrief, sponsored by IBM | April 2019

2 Manual Documents Processing Pain Points, Aberdeen Survey, sponsored by IBM | November 2019