Publishing giant Random House is updating its supply chain systems to boost customer service.

Random House has gone to IBM company Sterling Commerce to deploy a real-time data system to support its book distribution division The Book Service (TBS).

The software improves responsiveness to TBS' supply chain partners' requests, such as demand for self-service capabilities. It also provides TBS with real-time business intelligence to help improve decisions making, said Random.

The Sterling Commerce platform is handling 1,000 files per day across more than 30 partners, which include Amazon, Waterstones, Tesco and other large supermarkets. Random says the system also reduces the time it takes to "on-board" new trading partners to its supply chain.

The software automates the exchange of business documents across several TBS distribution sites, five Random publishing companies and a network of business partners and sales channels.

TBS can now forecast demand-based shipments of books, based on consumer preferences, and it can track and trace customer orders with increased accuracy. It has also improved its activity reporting.

"Now that we have gained end-to-end visibility and are able to track trading partners' orders, customer service levels are guaranteed," said Angus Gormley, applications support manager at Random House Group.

Random is using the Sterling B2B Integrator and cloud-based Sterling B2B Collaboration Network technologies, which Gormley said had "become critical components of the business to support future growth and expansion plans".

Earlier this year, Random House was persuaded to join Apple's iBooks market, bringing more than 17,000 new titles to the electronic store. Random House had been the last holdout among the six major publishing houses to join the iBookstore.