Tony’s Chocolonely meets demanding ethical KPIs through Boomi integration

Gary Flood Profile picture for user gflood February 27, 2024
The use of Boomi’s low-code platform at Tony’s Chocoloney helps users at all level of skills manage 200-plus back-end business software integrations

An image of a Tony’s Chocoloney chocolate bar with a red wrapper
(Image sourced via Tony’s Chocoloney)

Integration technology from Boomi is helping Netherlands-based ethical chocolate brand Tony’s Chocolonely seamlessly connect a wide range of back-end data and business feeds.

These include, says the company, major ERP platforms, like Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, and Salesforce, but also its global set of web shops, point-of-sale EPOS systems, and logistics partners.

That means, says Tony’s Chocolonely Middleware Specialist Abhinav Gaur, that it can now exchange data in real-time and operate much more efficiently as a business.

That matters, he says, as the company’s whole ethos is to ensure the company gets as much money it can back to the farmers and suppliers in markets like Ghana and the Ivory Coast. 

Best intentions

The company’s ethical ethos is landing with confectionary buyers, as the firm is now the largest chocolate brand in the Netherlands.

Its products are also now available in the US, UK, Germany, Belgium, and Scandinavia.

Specifically, the brand promises consumers that it is striving to make “100% (modern) slavery free” the norm in the global chocolate sector.

To do that, says Gaur, the Amsterdam-headquartered firm needs to invest in long-term partnerships with farmer cooperatives.

Through these it pays cocoa farmers higher prices than other buyers, invests in agricultural knowledge and training to help farmers improve productivity on their farms, and says it makes all its chocolate with fully traceable cocoa.

To meet this set of demanding KPIs, Tony’s Chocolonely has tried from the start to be careful about its internal processes.

However, like many fast-growing organizations, despite the best of design intentions it has ended up with several disparate business packages. Gaur says:

We have databases, interfaces, and applications and a mix of both traditional on-premises software and modern cloud solutions that need to link to both our ingredients system, but also all our third-party logistics partner systems.

However, a recent move to better connect the company’s technology landscape and enable the orchestration of all business data has changed the picture completely, he explains: 

Like a lot of organizations, we need middleware because there are so many systems to be connected and there must be some process to connect all those systems.

When an organization starts, it starts with a few systems, but when it grows there are a lot of systems to be connected. So, middleware is something that often sits at the heart of a company, because you have to connect all the systems.

No system can understand the language of all the other languages modern business needs. I build processes so that our systems can connect with other systems not just inside Tony’s Chocolonely but also with outside organizations.

Gaur stresses that this complexity would not be somehow magicked away just by a move to cloud:

Even if you are hosting it on Amazon, you’d still have to synchronize all your systems and they need to communicate with each other. Hosting it’s not the problem, communication is.

A common issue, for example, used to be all that went on behind the scenes of a customer or partner making an order online. He explains: 

That web shop order has to be sent to our ERP; after creating that order in the Tony Chocolonely’s ERP, it must be sent to a third-party logistics company to deliver it, and you have to create an invoice, and then you have to send that invoice to the web shop which will eventually share it with the customer. 

There has to be some mechanism that will pull and push data from one place to another in the right and secure way.

Two years ago, Boomi was selected to provide that mechanism. Key to that selection process was the combination of high functionality and ease-of-use of the product, according to Gaur: 

I’ve worked with other tools where, even for simple jobs, you have to create extra components. If one business system has 5 fields and the other system needs only 4 fields, you need to create a mapping for all five.

He and the rest of Tony Chocolonely’s middleware team also like the vendor’s approach to licensing, which operates on an actual per-use basis: 

That is a major difference, because no businesses will require all the functionalities of a tool all the time - they only need maybe two, and the other eight are not useful for them, but when you purchase the tool, you still have to pay for all ten.

The product has now been live at the organization for 18 months, and Gaur says that there is a definite ‘before’ and ‘after::

When I started here, middleware was not set up properly - we were still in the building phase, and there was a lot of clutter.

Now, everything is streamlined. Previously, every country used to have a separate process, but we are operating all over against the same standard, so everybody has clarity, and things can be replicated in another one with minor differences, which means when we are going to launch something new, then we are confident that we can do it.

Positive impact

Standardization also supports other efficiencies, he adds. To take just one example, it is now much quicker and easier using the tool to automate the correct population of all the EDI fields a retailer may require as part of fulfilling an online transaction. In many cases, says Gaur, that means that a workflow that would have taken as many as five hours gets done in more like 15 seconds.

And as many retailers insist on EDI, this helps the business secure and build the relationships it wants, he adds:

If you are creating a process for one retailer, it will be a replica for others and so we are distributing a lot of chocolates just because we have this EDI process in place.

Summing up the positive impact of enterprise integration across his environment, for Gaur:

Senior management is happy because revenue is increasing because we are selling more. And how are we selling more? Because of the more streamlined, more standard, and faster back-end processes.

Our tagline is that we are an impact company which makes chocolate; I would say that this software is making an impact in the impact company.

And I think the fact that we are changing up our e-commerce platform to Shopify but not even thinking of replacing the middleware says all you need to know.

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