ROCKFORD, Illinois – March 22, 2022 -- Brother makes more things go than any of us probably realize – indeed they’ve made their entire business go gangbusters by ensuring Brother is “at your side” in unexpected ways. As a result, their business ecosystem is continuously expanding.
Like the design or message on that hoodie or hat you’re wearing? Brother Industrial Products makes the garment printers that might have made it look cool. Checking into a hospital? Brother Mobile Solutions might have been there to create your wristband or securely label your blood sample bottle. Got a speeding ticket? Your roadside citation may have been printed out on a Brother machine. Admiring an organized pantry with clearly labeled spices? Brother’s Ptouch labelers may have been on the job. Ever enjoyed a slushy drink from your neighborhood convenience store? Brother’s Gearmotors often work behind the scenes to power those machines.
The company has experienced significant expansion in recent years, mainly driven by accelerating growth in their Business Machines unit (printers, fax machines, etc.), the company’s largest division accounting for 50% of annual revenue. But growth is also coming from other lines as well including the company’s Home Appliances, Industrial Products, Gear Motor, and Mobile Solutions units. Brother is even in the burgeoning cannabis industry, supplying energy-efficient gearmotors for automated sorting and trimming products.
The company sells its business products through myriad direct and indirect brick & mortar and online channels, including “big box” retailers like Best Buy, Office Depot and Staples, as well as through Amazon Marketplace. Home products, like sewing machines and embroidery systems, are moved through independent dealers and distributors who sell these devices to crafts and retail stores like Walmart, Target, Michaels, Jo-Ann or Hobby Lobby. Over the past five years or so the company has also seen a 6-fold increase in direct sales of its business printers and home sewing solutions via its increasingly popular website portal.
This multifaceted ecosystem of customers and partners, dealers and distributors, amounts to a complex network of B2B, B2B2C, and D2C (direct-to-consumer) relationships. Each of these partnerships is vital to revenue and valuable to extending the reach and impact of the Brother brand experience. Effectively managing all of them requires a highly dependable digital integration platform solution that delivers agility, visibility, and control over the company’s high volume of EDI-based transactions – over 85% of the company’s total sales volume relies on EDI
– which is where Cleo Integration Cloud comes in. Brother processes well over 25,000 /day or 600,000 EDI transactions per month, and virtually all these are processed through the Cleo Integration Cloud platform.
Brother International started using Cleo back in 2014 as an on-premise integration solution, through a deployment Brother implemented in-house. Impressed with the capabilities and aware that Cleo’s ecosystem integration platform could do even more, in 2019 Senior Director of IT Rich McNaught and his team made the decision to migrate to the cloud version of Cleo Integration Cloud, finding Cleo’s Managed Services offerings increasingly sensible and compelling.
“We wanted to focus on core competencies of expanding our trading partnerships and growing the business through automation and modern ERP integration rather than spend time on the day-to-day management of EDI maintenance and monitoring. But we needed a proven, reliable partner to do it with,” McNaught explained. “Cleo’s team helped us move all this complex integration work out of our in-house data center in favor of a Managed Services approach where we entrust Cleo to do the on-boarding, the map creation -- everything.”
Now what used to be a less efficient and longer onboarding process for new trading partners Brother is able with Cleo’s help to do within a month. Now, not only are timeframes predictable for Brother and its partners, but costs are more predictable too. Given Brother’s agreement with Cleo, there is a fixed-rate schedule in place, so the company knows upfront what a new map will cost, or what the expense will be for onboarding a new partner. Beyond being able to spin up revenue-generating relationships more quickly, there are other financial benefits as well, including fewer charges against Brother for SLA violations.
“Our relationship with Cleo has significantly improved our own customer relationships, because as we deliver a better onboarding and overall EDI experience, we’re seeing huge increases in customer satisfaction. Everybody involved can track the progress in real-time and know the status – no more guesswork,” McNaught emphasized.
Looking forward, McNaught sees more opportunity and potential for Brother to expand its use of the Cleo Integration Cloud platform as the company works to streamline and simplify ever-changing process flows. “I know Cleo can handle more than just our EDI elements and we see possible roles for Cleo within our evolving data transformation, visibility improvement, business intelligence, and reporting initiatives, as well as our whole eCommerce play.”
For Brother International Corporation, Cleo is a true partner that always has Brothers’ interest front and center. “That’s one of the things I’ve appreciated the most,” McNaught said. “Cleo really leaned in and understood our unique situation, then they creatively scoped out a solution. They have been very patient, transparent, and honest all along the way, leading to a wonderfully positive experience that is helping us advance our overall business.”