Sauder embarks on digital cloud initiative
November 16, 2021 | 5:54 pm CST
Sauder embarks on digital initiative.

Sauder embarks on digital initiative.

As part of its digital transformation initiative, Sauder Woodworking has embraced eCommerce, implemented omnichannel ordering and fulfillment, and made their supply chain more agile through modern integration technology.

With headquarters in Archbold, Ohio, Sauder Woodworking products have traditionally sold its ready-to-assemble furniture through brick & mortar stores and through online eCommerce platforms. Global digital marketplaces like Amazon and Wayfair are among its biggest customers.

“We consider ourselves an omnichannel fashion-furniture manufacturer,” said Jan Arvay, vice president of IT, at Sauder Woodworking. “Our more than 2,500 employees produce hundreds of new products for the home, office, educational, health care, and worship industries every year through both the domestic and import sides of our business.”

From a B2B and B2C perspective, the company has hundreds of suppliers and thousands of customers (wholesale, retail and direct) throughout the world, and it’s here, with Sauder’s resolute focus on delivering exceptional customer experiences, that the real value of the company’s ecosystem-minded approach to integration technology comes to light.

From a B2B and B2C perspective, the company has hundreds of suppliers and thousands of customers (wholesale, retail and direct) throughout the world, and it’s here, with Sauder’s resolute focus on delivering exceptional customer experiences, that the real value of the company’s ecosystem-minded approach to integration technology comes to light.

“We rely on supply chain agility, end-to-end process visibility, and real-time data insights to understand our customers,” Arvay explained. “Because providing a personalized customer experience for all types of customers both drives us and gives us competitive advantage.”

To execute on this customer-centric business strategy, as part of its digital transformation initiative Sauder has increasingly adopted cloud technology, including a modern ecosystem integration platform, Cleo Integration Cloud (CIC). Sauder also has analytics tools and uses SAP S/4 Hana as its ERP system. Plus, they have a great logistics operation so they can ship directly to retailers, distributors, or consumers straight from their distribution centers.

“Over the past few years, we’ve adapted our organization to fit the new mold of what consumers need,” Arvay said. “Cleo is core to that, and since 2019 we’ve counted on Cleo Integration Cloud for making every revenue-critical interaction with our external trading partners, retailers, and eCommerce systems work as they should, end-to-end, with our internal systems of record.”

EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) is a critical integration requirement, as over 90% of Sauder’s customers do all their transactions through EDI. The company has more than 170 trading partners, and those relationships call for over 30 different document types, reflecting well over 200,000 transactions every month. But it’s not just about mastering EDI. Ever more frequently, as cloud adoption proliferates for its speed, accuracy and security, data exchanges between Sauder and its customers, suppliers, and trading partners are trending into APIs.

“With Cleo Integration Cloud we have one cloud-based platform that offers every type of transaction processing that we need, whatever our customers are asking for. We don't have to build custom solutions or find a different tool,” Arvay explained.

Previously Sauder used IBM Gentran and a custom connector tool as their on-premise integration solution, but wanted a more automated, business-process oriented approach. “When we evaluated Cleo, we made sure it had all the functionality to meet our EDI requirements, and it does that. Plus, since CIC is an ‘all in one’ platform, we feel confident knowing we can leverage CIC’s rich API integration capability when we need it, as our business evolves. And their ability to let us blend self-service and Managed Services is unique in the industry.”

The Cleo Integration Cloud platform gives Sauder Woodworking the control it needs over rapidly changing market dynamics. For example, in light of COVID, Sauder has had to reprioritize some of its projects to keep up with changes in supply and demand. With more people suddenly working from home, demand spiked for commercial-grade home office products. In response, Sauder introduced three new product lines – Sauder, OfficeWorks by Sauder, and Worksense by Sauder – that offer different ways of imagining commercial office furniture to meet the diverse needs of today’s consumer and business customer.

Enabling a company like Sauder to turn on a dime, deliver the expected level of customer experience, and outsmart market volatility requires tightly integrated IT systems that are robust and nimble. With Cleo’s ecosystem integration platform now core to its strategic cloud initiatives, Sauder Woodworking can outsmart market disruption and remain competitive while fully embracing eCommerce-driven digital transformation.

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About the author
Larry Adams | Editor

Larry Adams is a Chicago-based writer and editor who writes about how things get done. A former wire service and community newspaper reporter, Larry is an award-winning writer with more than three decades of experience. In addition to writing about woodworking, he has covered science, metrology, metalworking, industrial design, quality control, imaging, Swiss and micromanufacturing . He was previously a Tabbie Award winner for his coverage of nano-based coatings technology for the automotive industry. Larry volunteers for the historic preservation group, the Kalo Foundation/Ianelli Studios, and the science-based group, Chicago Council on Science and Technology (C2ST).