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Energy provider EnBW enhances sustainability and efficiency by centralising procurement with Unite

EnBW, a leading energy provider in Germany, was looking for a procurement solution that would enhance sustainability and efficiency. They wanted to find a central solution to cover their indirect purchasing needs, reduce maverick buying and support their sustainability strategy, including long-tail demand, all whilst staying in control of pricing. Find out how EnBW is optimising its indirect purchasing and futureproofing its processes with Unite.

Unite Single Creditor Focus

Challenges for EnBW

  • Finding a central solution for the entirety of their tailend
  • Reducing expenses and simplifying buying procedures
  • Lowering the number of creditors
  • Reducing maverick buying
  • Making sustainability an integral part of procurement for all employees
  • Saving process costs

The result

8% savings

Thanks to keeping their conditions with existing suppliers and having access to the Unite product range

Optimised P2P process

Reduced maverick buying, Single Creditor option


All 5,000 employees who make purchases on the company’s behalf can now filter items by sustainability

A central solution for indirect procurement

Jürgen Schuster explains why EnBW chose Unite (video in German with English subtitles)

In 2020, EnBW updated its procurement systems. In the lead-up to that, the publicly listed Karlsruhe-based energy provider had tested a few procurement solutions, but none of them met their requirements. EnBW sought a central and intuitive procurement solution to cover its the entirety of its tail spend. The energy company also wanted a large selection of products instantly available online.

EnBW's procurement department scoured the internet to do some market research and try out different platforms. They compared the cost of the company’s 150 most frequently bought items as part of the process. The result: if EnBW used only a classic marketplace to cover their product needs, they’d suffer a 15% loss compared to what they were paying with the conditions negotiated with their existing suppliers. But if they could maintain these conditions and utilise a marketplace range on top, they’d be looking at an 8% profit. This is where Unite came in. “With Unite, we now have instant access to nearly 30 million items and we can still keep our previous suppliers and the conditions we negotiated with them,” says Jürgen Schuster, Category Manager Catalogues/Marketplaces at EnBW.

In Unite, the energy supplier has found a central platform to cover its entire marginal product range at the best conditions, enabling it to manage all its suppliers from one place via one interface. By making use of Unite’s pre-integrated catalogues (called BusinessShops), EnBW saves time and money. Admin efforts have been cut down drastically compared to classic catalogue hosting systems thanks to standard product ranges that EnBW can activate at their own prices. There’s no need for tedious catalogue checks, which helps EnBW cut costs and simplify the procurement department’s day-to-day operations.

Smart procurement features for more efficient processes

Jürgen Schuster speaks about optimising the procurement process with Unite (video in German with English subtitles)

The savings potential and the large product assortment were just the beginning for EnBW. Another main goal was to save process costs and reduce maverick buying. Unite’s e-procurement solution created the best conditions enabling all employees to place orders via a digitalised and standardised procurement process. EnBW uses Unite’s e-procurement solution via an OCI interface. It seamlessly integrates into the energy supplier’s system and optimises their P2P processes while significantly reducing the number of free-text orders.

Unite’s Single Creditor also freed up some time for the EnBW accounts department. Now EnBW can place orders quickly and easily with any number of suppliers. Plus, with Unite’s credit note procedure, they only have one creditor, i.e. one account to pay.

Embedded in Unite’s e-procurement solution, the Best Basket feature makes the procurement department’s day-to-day work much easier. EnBW employees can choose between a cheaper price, a quicker delivery time or a lower number of partial deliveries – depending on what matters most at any given time. This shopping basket optimisation feature also shows the best combination of price, delivery time and number of partial deliveries. “Unite stands out thanks to its Best Basket feature, which allows for the optimisation of shopping baskets across multiple dimensions,” says Schuster. A reduced number of partial deliveries cuts down on CO2 emissions while also supporting the EnBW procurement department in reaching its sustainability goals.

Making sustainability part of the ordering process

Jürgen Schuster discusses the sustainability goals of EnBW (video in German with English subtitles)

Sustainability is extremely important to EnBW. As part of its overall strategy, the energy provider aims to be CO2-neutral by 2035 and only invest in renewable energy moving forward. By 2025, the carbon footprint of all its procured items will be public knowledge. How can EnBW’s purchasing department support these strategic goals? By starting small: every EnBW employee has to make sustainability an integral part of their ordering process, no matter how small the order. Once you pay attention to sustainability with low-value baskets, youll automatically do so with large orders.

When it comes to sustainability, the Unite platform has an effective way of engaging as many employees as possible. “Now that Unite is part of our ordering workflow, we can positively impact our business. All of our 5,000 employees now use the Unite platform as their central procurement solution, which encourages them to filter products based on their sustainability certificates,” says Schuster.

Transparency is at the root of sustainable procurement, allowing buyers to know which products and suppliers qualify as sustainable. Unite offers the possibility to filter for items with an environmental or social certification from a reputable organisation. The system includes around 40 well-known labels so far. Unite offers this service for over 2,000 of the most popular keywords across its B2B range. As Unite continuously works on trustworthy sustainability features with suppliers, there are more certified products to choose from: Unite offers 1.2 million certified items across all markets. In Germany alone, over 500,000 product offerings feature environmental and social labels.

In the future, EnBW hopes to implement its sustainability goals even more transparently and automatically with the help of Unite. “We need better KPIs for our sustainability measures. This will allow us to present our products and suppliers in the most qualified way possible,” says Schuster. “We’re optimistic. And we also know that Unite is making continuous strides towards a more sustainable future.”

About EnBW

  • Legal form: stock corporation
  • Founded: 1997
  • Sector: energy
  • Headquarters: Karlsruhe
  • Headcount: 26,000 (2021)

Get in touch

Would you like to know more about optimising your procurement processes with the Unite platform? We’re happy to walk you through it.