Sterling Commerce, an IBM company, has announced that Alba, a global packaging company supplying regional and worldwide beauty brands such as L'Oral, Este Lauder, LVMH and Procter & Gamble, has implemented Sterling B2B Integration Services. The business-to-business (B2B) Cloud Service has enabled Alba to optimize its supply chain operations and accurately meet customer demand, achieving reduced stock levels, local order fulfillment and 'just-in-time' delivery.
Alba opted for an easy-to-implement cloud service able to offer 24/7 support to its factories, distributed across three continents. Previously operating as Alcan, under the Rio Tinto group, the company spun off independently in 2010. At this point, the development of Alba's own B2B integration system became critical as a means of managing stock and inventory. The solution has also enabled the company to set up a B2B integration offering as a service for its customers.
Alba designs and produces high quality, cost-effective packaging solutions for the make-up, fragrance, skincare, personal and oral care markets, covering both niche and mass markets. Sterling B2B Integration Services provide visibility and control over B2B processes that Alba shares with its distribution, retail, manufacturer and logistics partners. Improved integration helps to streamline the sourcing of packaging materials from various locations, allowing customers to constantly replenish orders and stock levels at short notice from multiple fulfillment centres.
The solution is part of the IBM Smarter Commerce offering that integrates industry-leading capabilities and offerings from its software, services and systems portfolio to help companies better integrate and more effectively manage their value chain including buy, market, sell, and service processes putting the customer at the center of decisions and actions to increase revenue, loyalty and agility.
"Our customers throughout the world are looking to keep inventories low while guaranteeing on-time delivery," said Eric Lafarge, chief information officer at Alba. "By synchronizing the high volume of interactions between Alba and its business partners, Sterling B2B Integration Services enable Alba to minimize the time stock sits in the warehouse and in transit. The solution also allows for 'near-sourcing', so deliveries travel shorter distances, reducing waste and improving sustainability by avoiding the transport of air in empty packaging."
A big part of "smarter commerce," involves using software to build a tighter and highly responsive network of suppliers and partners to enable delivery of the right product or service at the right price, time and place. The Sterling Commerce solution offers Alba a competitive advantage enabling the company to provide logistics management as an added value service to its clients.
"We are in a customer-and product-delivery focused business and I am absolutely convinced that within the next five years, supply chain logistics will become the key differentiating lever in our industry," said Eric Lafarge. "In the manufacturing sector, the business survival of suppliers will depend on our ability to provide B2B integration as part of our customer service. Our customers are looking to keep stocks low and inventory moving. Every day we deal with order, inventory, delivery and supply chain issues that can only work effectively through automation. Sterling Commerce was the only vendor that immediately understood our needs."
"Streamlining its B2B communications has allowed Alba to create a more competitive manufacturing organization," said Ronald Teijken, industry executive for manufacturing and logistics at Sterling Commerce. "Alba now also has its own B2B capability which allows the newly independent company to provide its customers with the best possible service."