Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

IBM enhances capabilities of supply chain platform

Steve Rogerson
January 28, 2020

At this month’s National Retail Federation Big Show in New York, IBM announced that enhanced capabilities are being developed with other providers for its Sterling supply chain platform to help quickly solve returns, omnichannel and logistics problems to improve the customer experience.
Salesforce, Publicis Sapient, IBM Services, Project44 and Flooid are developing ways to help accelerate retailers' digital transformation initiatives at scale using the recently launched open Sterling supply chain platform.
The expected improvement to front and back office omnichannel connectivity, optimising and orchestrating returns, can help drive greater logistics insights and fulfilment enablement, to help retailers remove friction and anticipate increased customer engagement and profitability.
"The retail industry is poised for a renaissance as companies move away from siloed and legacy applications towards scalable, enterprise-tuned platforms that can holistically address customer-facing and supply chain operations challenges," said Jeanette Barlow, vice president at IBM Sterling. "This shift is likely compounding the industry's need to quickly innovate across traditional functional domains and deliver new capabilities that span operations and even third party supply chain partners. To create the seamless and personalised experience customers expect and provide a true first-mover advantage, companies should modernise supply chains on top of open platforms that can harness technologies such as AI, blockchain, IoT and hybrid cloud. Our relationships in this space can help our clients to make this shift more quickly."
IBM through its subsidiary Bluewolf is developing a connector with the support of MuleSoft that will integrate the IBM Sterling supply chain suite with Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud and Marketing Cloud. The enterprise-grade, platform-to-platform integration can help retailers deliver consistent and personalised shopping moments by blending the online and offline shopping experience.
"By integrating with IBM Sterling through the MuleSoft Connector, retailers can deliver omnichannel customer experiences to help reduce operational costs," said Neeracha Taychakhoonavudh, executive vice president at Salesforce. "Salesforce is excited to collaborate with IBM to help enable a scalable, efficient, profitable and trusted way to unify digital and physical store operations."
Publicis Sapient – the digital transformation hub of Publicis Groupe – is extending its relationship with IBM piloting the Sterling developer hub with support and resources provided by the Powered by IBM Sterling programme. Having built a skilled order management practice, Publicis Sapient plans to bring additional supply chain technology to the market using the Sterling supply chain platform.
One of the innovation areas for the relationship is in returns optimisation. Publicis Sapient plans to extend Sterling AI capabilities for returns with a control tower blueprint and practice. This is being designed to help retailers simplify consumer returns orchestration, while bringing products into available-to-promise inventory at the desired location.
"The complexities of the retail industry are fundamentally driving a shift towards being able to quickly tailor solutions specific to the enterprise's unique supply chain," said Chris Davey, chief strategist at Publicis Sapient. "Being able to incorporate third-party applications and data into innovative supply chain capabilities provides our clients with a potential competitive advantage, while bolstering our supply chain practice's capabilities."
Project 44, via its Advanced Visibility Platform, helps retailers, manufacturers and distributors transform the customer experience and automate inefficiencies across the entire supply chain. Project44 plans to integrate its fast-growing global carrier network with the Sterling supply chain suite, to help clients obtain more accurate shipment ETAs, identify vital up and down stream impacts to their inventory and orders, and quickly respond to relevant supply chain events.
"This relationship between Project44 and IBM Sterling supply chain insights combines the most precise transportation data and AI to unlock the value of supply chain visibility in an entirely new way," said Will Hansmann, chief technology officer at Project44. "Together, we can enable companies to take advantage of a transparent, scalable and connected supply chain that can help deliver predictive and actionable results in step with their rapidly evolving business needs."
Working with IBM to realise the retail store of the future, Flooid – a provider of resilient basket functionality – now offers a seamless omnichannel experience across store and online sales channels. The Flooid platform, which was recently rebranded from PCMS, lets retailers transact across channels and devices, such as registers, kiosks, self-scanners, mobile devices and ecommerce, helping them innovate and differentiate their customer shopping experience.
"IBM Sterling and Flooid have a long history of collaboration and highly complementary offerings to help retail clients create a single platform for customer experience and order fulfilment inside the store," said Tony Houldsworth, CEO of Flooid. “This can empower store associates to provide customers with the services and choices they want. Flooid's highly specialised platform provides a seamless connection to the basket, which is a key component of successful store and digital transformation."