IBM > Case Studies > IBM Sterling B2B Integration Services: A Game Changer for Bonnie Plants

IBM Sterling B2B Integration Services: A Game Changer for Bonnie Plants

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Technology Category
  • Application Infrastructure & Middleware - Data Exchange & Integration
  • Application Infrastructure & Middleware - Middleware, SDKs & Libraries
Applicable Industries
  • Consumer Goods
  • Retail
Applicable Functions
  • Sales & Marketing
Use Cases
  • Retail Store Automation
  • Supply Chain Visibility
  • System Integration
About The Customer
Bonnie Plants began in 1918 in a backyard and has grown to include 68 growing stations around the country. The company currently has 450 sales representatives servicing more than 13,000 accounts. As a national plant wholesaler based in Alabama, Bonnie is dedicated to supplying retail stores throughout the United States and Canada with the best herb, flower, and vegetable plants available. As part of Alabama Farmers Cooperative (AFC), a regionally federated supply and marketing agricultural cooperative, Bonnie has brought top-quality plants to gardeners across the country throughout the company’s history. AFC acquired its most profitable division, Bonnie in 1975.
The Challenge
Bonnie Plants, a national plant wholesaler based in Alabama, was grappling with the challenges of manual data processing which made them vulnerable to human errors and long delays. The company was using IBM Sterling's Gentran:Director® for EDI and Sterling Collaboration NetworkSM for their VAN services since 1994. However, the sales data took up to three days to process, leading to a feeling of being overwhelmed with data. The processing of sales orders could take an entire day and was subject to human error. After pulling information across a dial-up modem, Bonnie often discovered the data was incomplete. The company was continuously facing the challenges of trading electronically with little visibility. Moreover, 70 percent of their business occurred between the months of March and May, which required a scalable solution that could handle a large influx of data during a short period of time.
The Solution
In 2007, Bonnie Plants recognized that Sterling B2B Integration Services would allow them to remain competitive while reducing their overall costs. The implementation process began in September, and by December, all trading partners were moved. The solution was deployed in phases to ensure Bonnie’s business would not be interrupted during implementation. Sterling B2B Integration Services now enables Bonnie to connect people, processes, and technology across boundaries. Each time a Bonnie product is scanned at a retail store, the information is collected, put into a common layout, and then processed immediately. This real-time visibility allows salesmen to drop off new plants where and when they are needed. Sterling B2B Integration Services processes invoices, adjustments, payment orders, remittance advice, purchase orders, product activity data, and customer text messages for Bonnie. Bonnie now processes, on average, 90,000 documents per month, with around six million transactions during their peak season of March through May.
Operational Impact
  • The implementation of Sterling B2B Integration Services has brought about significant operational improvements for Bonnie Plants. The company now has the technical ability to meet their customers’ requirements pertaining to data translation. They have been able to increase profitability by reducing costs and increasing reliability of their B2B operations. The onboarding of new trading partners, which was once a daunting task, has now become faster and more accurate. The company also uses Sterling B2B Integration Services to ensure business critical documents are processed on-time, which allows for better service and faster sales turnarounds. The ease of implementation ensured that their business was not affected during the implementation process. A high degree of proactive support through a single-point-of-contact for all business issues, escalations, and questions, as well as an assigned customer service representative, ensured a smooth delivery of the solution without interruption to their business.
Quantitative Benefit
  • Bonnie now processes, on average, 90,000 documents per month, with around six million transactions during their peak season of March through May.
  • Bonnie has gained real-time, end-to-end visibility and control over their business processes internally and external trading partners.
  • Bonnie adds customers faster and more accurately.

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