Business challenge

Facing long delays in setting up purchasing accounts for new customers and converting phone, email and fax-based orders into electronic data interchange (EDI)-compatible files, MISUMI USA needed to upgrade and automate its e-commerce system.


MISUMI deployed a new IBM Sterling e-commerce solution to expedite new customer onboarding and automate order file transformation to create a more frictionless purchasing experience for its customers.


Added 143 new customer accounts in four months

by automating customer onboarding with e-commerce platform

Created more time for staff to serve customers

instead of manually processing orders and fixing order file formatting issues

Accelerated order entries from customers that don’t use EDI

by converting faxes, phone calls and email-based files into EDI formatted files

Business challenge story

Delivering on the promise of automation

When many people think about factory automation, they see an intricate choreography of robots weaving in and out of automobile assembly lines. However, the manufacturing of many other familiar products, including smartphones, aircraft, medical devices and packaged foods, would not be possible without the speed and precision of automation.

Working behind the scenes to keep automated factories running smoothly, MISUMI makes and distributes over 20 million industrial components. These parts can also be customized in up to 80 sextillion variations to meet the exact requirements of manufacturing designers and engineers.

To help its growing number of industrial automation customers purchase components as quickly as possible, MISUMI started to automate its e-commerce portal. The system was set up for large customers using EDI and PunchOut e-catalogs to integrate with MISUMI’s e-commerce platform.

Onboarding new customers was a long, laborious process, complicated by a “patchwork quilt” of EDI and PunchOut solutions. Customers had to be brought into the system manually, one at a time. Customer support was time consuming and expensive, and most importantly, MISUMI was not filling orders as quickly as it could.

When it came to smaller customers that didn’t use EDI and continued to place orders using PDF documents, phone calls and emails, MISUMI needed a faster way to automatically transform paper-based documents into data that its EDI-based e-commerce platform could process.

Realizing a need to change its e-commerce strategy to deliver on the promise of automation, MISUMI’s IT department conducted a thorough review of its IT vendors. “What we found out after a shootout between our top two finalists was that the IBM solution was the right way to go,” says Erik Andersen, Senior Vice President of IT at MISUMI USA. “That’s when we began a process to replace all of the incumbent solutions with IBM solutions.”

It was a true partnership with IBM. Very supportive all the way from strategy definition through the architecture of the solution to implementation.

Erik Andersen, Senior Vice President of IT, MISUMI USA

Transformation story

Smarter onboarding and document conversion

As an expression of its entrepreneurial culture, MISUMI was committed to be a top performer in its industry — not only in terms of the products it delivered, but also in terms of the total purchasing experience it provided to its customers. To support this objective, MISUMI chose IBM Sterling B2B Integrator, IBM Sterling Supply Chain Business Network and IBM Sterling Document Conversion Services.

Implementing B2B Integrator and Supply Chain Business Network solutions dramatically improved how fast MISUMI could integrate new customers into its e-commerce platform. In addition to automating the onboarding process, B2B Integrator made it easier for MISUMI to ingest Ariba, Coupa and other PunchOut e-catalog ordering files and support seamless EDI integration with its largest customers. The IBM solution also met MISUMI’s requirements for a security-rich e-commerce gateway designed for high availability.

For smaller customers still using paper documents to place orders, MISUMI used IBM Sterling Document Conversion Services and IBM Sterling Supply Chain Business Network to automatically convert faxes, emails and PDF files to into EDI format. Document Conversion Services, part of the IBM Sterling Small Partner Automation solution, eliminated manual file conversion and back-end processing to save the company a significant amount of time and money.

“IBM has a strong portfolio of Business Partners offering assistance with strategy, crafting solutions and helping with the design of bringing disparate or different technologies to help solve our business problem,” says Andersen. “This entire initiative for implementing B2B Integrator and document conversion services is IBM, and IBM has created a big brand for itself within our organization.”

Results story

Engineering a better e-commerce experience

Prior to adding the IBM solutions to its e-commerce portal, it took months to integrate a single large customer into the MISUMI system. Within four months after going online with IBM, MISUMI was able to integrate 143 new customers, a significant improvement in its onboarding completion rate. The impact on MISUMI’s business was clear — the faster customers went online, the faster new orders started to come in.

By using an IBM solution to automate paper, phone and fax-based orders, MISUMI was also able to streamline the purchasing experience for its smaller customers, which make up the majority of its accounts.

No longer having to enter orders by hand or dedicate staff to repetitive data entry tasks, MISUMI’s customer service staff now has more time to focus on activities with higher value services to its customers.

“The IBM solutions we deployed showed up on the radar screen in a very positive way because the numbers were so good,” says Andersen. “Whether it is reducing cost or allowing us to be the fastest company in the industry to do business with, it means we are moving MISUMI forward.”

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Based in Schaumburg, Illinois, MISUMI supplies factory automation, metal press, mechanical and plastic molding components to over 28,000 customers in the US, including industries such as aerospace, automotive, electronics, consumer products and medical. MISUMI USA is a subsidiary of MISUMI Group, Inc., which was founded in 1963 and is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. Globally, MISUMI employs over 11,000 people and operates 63 sales offices, 17 logistics centers and 23 manufacturing sites.


Take the next step

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