Case: Open Innovation for purchasing process automation

100 Open Startups
3 min readAug 29, 2023

Discover the open innovation case of Smarkets, in partnership with Accenture, which implemented the automation of purchasing processes.

Technology and innovation have been fundamental for the promotion of products and services for retail and industrial corporations. With technological evolution and the emergence of new digital solutions, corporations have more and more tools to optimize day-to-day manufacturing processes, for example.

Purchasing process automation is a process that involves using technology to automate repetitive and manual tasks that are common in purchasing departments. This can include everything from creating purchase requisitions to issuing purchase orders, receiving goods, and paying vendors.

Purchasing process automation can bring many benefits to corporations, including reduced errors, greater operational efficiency, complete visibility into all purchasing processes, and savings in time and money.

Smarkets is a reference in the matter. The startup, founded in 2014, innovated by creating a solution to make life easier for different sectors, from industry, retail and the service sector. The startup’s solution aims to transform the supply process, using technology to enable better decisions. Through robots, data analysis and segment strategy, the startup helps corporations in the process of acquiring products and contracting services.

Case Smarkets: Open Innovation for Purchasing Process Automation

Smarkets captures information through automations and concentrates the data on its platform. Based on the data, the startup is able to understand what the purchase demands of corporations are and, thus, the robots start to act in the automation of acquisitions, using collaborative negotiations available to the ecosystem. Many of the processes do not need human intervention. For example, robots can identify products that are purchased on a recurring basis and that have been traded recently. In other stages of the process, human intervention is necessary, when, for example, it is necessary to quote specific products with the supplier market or even make strategic negotiations to establish a partnership agreement. In addition to technology, Smarkets has specialists in trading,

With this experience in the area, Smarkets caught the attention of Accenture, which operated with transformation of supplies, market leader in the segment of tubes, connections and hydraulic materials.

The company’s great challenge was to carry out, in a dynamic and practical way, the purchase of items on the C curve. That is, items that are necessary for the production process, but not necessarily directly within the process, such as parts for equipment maintenance, PPE for employees, office supplies and cleaning, in short, day-to-day purchases. With a huge demand for purchases, the company had thousands of scattered suppliers and managing each and every item to be purchased took a lot of time and the cost was extremely high.

Smarkets started the partnership with Accenture in 2020. Thus, the entire solution implementation analysis process was built on Smarkets’ purchasing automation experience and Accenture’s digital transformation experience.

The implementation of the solution contributed to the reduction of repetitive human work, since the robots took over the process of analysis and curation of purchases of day-to-day items, as well as a reduction in operating costs, agility and a more assertive organization of the catalog of items needed to carry out the company’s daily activities, since, with the platform, Smarkets created a historical database on the items. In addition, the company started to monitor performance KPIs for the proper management of purchases.

Currently, the operation performs more than 4000 transactions per month, with more than 60% being processed with SLAs of 24 to 48 hours. Service with this agility was only possible with the implementation of the robot, combined with the expertise of the Smarkets team of specialists. A request fulfillment process by a collaborator, which would take more than 10 minutes, is done in less than 1 minute by the robot. With the success of the partnership, Smarkets and Accenture have maintained their relationship with the company ever since and are currently developing other projects in the pipeline.

Smarkets was awarded in two editions of the Ranking 100 Open Startups in the TOP Marketplace category. In addition, the startup was recognized as Open Scaleups, which highlights startups that had annual revenue above US$ 2.5 million, accumulated investment above US$ 2.5 million or were acquired in the M&A process.