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Procurement’s journey of transformation and digitization


Procurement’s role in Edgewell’s transformation and digitization WRIT TEN BY



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With the motto of ‘challenge to win’, Edgewell Personal Care has been on a journey to transform its procurement function to enable a consumer-centric, sustainable future. VP Global Procurement Nirav Mehta tells us more…

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he procurement function has evolved from purely transactional – such as managing purchase orders, pay-

ments and invoices – to a strategic role across organizations. Shifting its value proposition to become an integral part of a business, procurement is expected to deliver a significant impact on bottom line margins using innovative sourcing strategies and cost saving levers. The value proposition is evolving even further, where procurement has sought to impact the top line of an organization by delivering supplier-enabled innovations, forming an integral part of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability objectives, mitigating all kinds of external risk to supply continuity, finances or even brand equity. A clear example of that is how businesses, presently faced with political uncertainty, government regulations and ongoing trade

wars on a global scale, are looking at the procurement function. Such volatility has put unprecedented financial and supply chain risks on businesses, which is where procurement needs to be in driver’s seat. On top of this, the ongoing digital disruptions impacting every industry, has resulted in increased pressure on businesses to transform their models. The procurement function must play a critical role in digital transformations of businesses, while also transforming itself. “I believe these are significant challenges, but it makes our role in procurement very exciting and valuable at the same time,” reflects Nirav Mehta, Vice President of Global Procurement at Edgewell Personal Care (EPC). Joining the business four years ago and appointed as Vice President in 2018, Mehta’s diverse background in the consumer goods industry made him the perfect choice to take the business on its next stage of growth. Working for Coty, Avon and L’Oréal amongst others, he reflects that he joined “this gem of a company” due to its “phenomenal culture” and its “collaborative and down-to-earth people.” With several w w w.e dge well. com




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“We have deployed technology-enabled solutions at every stage of the procurement value stream, with the objective to reduce redundancies, and automate and streamline processes” — Nirav Mehta, Vice President of Global Procurement at Edgewell Personal Care (EPC)

“We like to call ourselves a small big company. It also describes our culture and our entrepreneurial mindset to a great extent. Like a startup, perhaps, but with the resources of a large organization,” he says wistfully. “We are not so big that the bureaucracy and politics of decision making, or lack of empowerment can stifle our growth and innovation. I believe this is a great asset that we have, and we try to leverage it. Our company’s motto, in simple words, is ‘challenge to win’. We consider ourselves challengers to our competitors in the industry.” Technology continues to accelerate

strong fundamentals in place for the

the transformation of every industry,

business to succeed long-term, including

and the consumer-packaged goods

strong personal care brands under its

(CPG) and personal care sector is no

umbrella, Mehta is enthusiastic about

exception. Whether it is e-commerce

the role procurement and supply chain

or direct-to-consumer type business

is playing in its transformation.

models. EPC was previously geared

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towards competing with larger CPG companies and serving large, brickand-mortar type retailers. As digitization continues to shift the goalposts, a significant number of niche brands are not only challenging market share and the price positioning of bigger players, but also the traditional business models which have remained relatively unchanged – until now. “I would say even consumer behaviors are changing,” observes Mehta. “In the past, consumers used to be 08

a lot more loyal to big brand names, but nowadays are looking for more personalization and are more willing and open to try new brands and new products that appeal to their individuality, that the values of these brands align with the values of themselves.” “You see this huge influx of really small, niche piranha brands in every consumer goods sector. That niche value proposition is targeted to a very specific segment of consumers, appeals to them and is successful in grabbing pieces of market share. At the end of the day, when you add all that up, it becomes a challenging marketplace for incumbent players.”

With shifts in consumer behavior, an

amidst changing market trends.

evolving landscape from brick-and-mor-

The procurement team at EPC is

tar to e-commerce, as well as business

at the front and center of navigating

models changing to direct-to-consum-

through these complex challenges.

er and subscription-type models, these

Recently, the business effectively

tensions, on top of such geopolitical

managed an ongoing threat posed

uncertainties, has created a hotbed

by the steel import tariffs by the US

of challenges for companies like EPC.

government. Due to its proactive

EPC is undergoing a journey to transform

approach, the business was one of

each area of the business. From taking

the first to be granted exemptions by

a closer look at changing consumer

the US Department of Commerce.

behaviors and delivering agile innovation

“When the US government an-

through simplified ways of working, the

nounced the 25% tariff on imported

business is also deploying new digital

steel, it was one of the key challenges

tools to become increasingly proactive

we were facing in our shaving business


Nirav Mehta Nirav is a veteran of CPG industry. In his 20 years of experience, he has worked across numerous leading global CPG companies like Coty, Avon, L’Oreal and Edgewell. He brings significant cross-functional leadership experience in Plant Engineering, Manufacturing, Package Engineering, Supply Chain, and Procurement. Nirav is passionate about Procurement, as it demands a combination of soft skills like Negotiations and relationship building, as well as sound business acumen, financial skills, macro-economics, and category expertise.

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because our razors are manufactured

of steel is the tariff being applied for?

with imported blade steel. It was

What countries are exempt? What

a challenging situation because

countries are not exempt? What are the

something like that can immediately

criteria for exemption? These tie back

have a big impact on the margins of

to our category expertise as well, where

that line of business. We took a very

we had a very in-depth understanding

systematic, and what I would consider

of the macroeconomics, the cost

a very organized approach towards

drivers and the marketplace for blade

managing that risk in a four-step

steel. This really helped us to incorpo-

approach,” he explains.

rate a sourcing strategy that would

“The first step was to really under-

allow us to manage some of these risks.

stand the policy, go down to the details

“The second step was assessing the

and really understand what the tariff

risk exposure, understanding the full

is being applied on. What categories

value stream within our supply chain

“I n the past, consumers used to be a lot more loyal to big brand names, but nowadays are looking for more personalization and are willing to try new brands that appeal to their individuality” — Nirav Mehta, Vice President of Global Procurement at Edgewell Personal Care (EPC)

CLICK TO WATCH : ‘EDGEWELL’ 11 where there could be an impact. After that, step three was taking some immediate actions. We were very proactive in terms of filing a petition, we were in very close contact with our suppliers and made sure that we aggressively appealed and made our case with the US Department of Commerce. We also sought advice from experts within the trade field,” he continues. “As a result of all these efforts, we were one of the first to be granted an exemption for the blade steel category. As a final step, we are considering our long-term strategic decisions and how we can build more flexibility and agility within our supply chain and mitigate w w w.e dge well. com

such impacts in the future. Whether it is alternative sourcing and manufacturing strategies, or changing up product strategies or our specifications. However, we are not done here, as there are still ongoing efforts to ensure we strategically manage impact of tariffs on various other categories, including imports from China.” EPC Procurement Managers are tasked with not only understanding EPC’s business needs, but also develop their expertise on macroeconomics, cost drivers, competitive benchmarking, external innovations and more. 12

The procurement team is then able to utilize this insight and intelligence to implement multi-year sourcing strategies. These multiyear strategies will then define how to deliver further value within the different lines of businesses at EPC. The team is also driving value through commodity risk management across all lines of business. By implementing strategies for most of its commodities to share, transfer, operationalize, deflect or even hedge ongoing risks, EPC has different strategies dependent on each commodity and what is happening in the supply markets. Taking advantage of these levers has allowed the team to provide increased visibility to its business stakeholders. “It’s understanding where an impending

$2.3bn Approximate revenue


Year founded


Approximate number of employees 13

significant business risk is and being proactive about mitigating and managing such risk,” stresses Mehta. “It also helps us provide a more accurate and consistent picture to our shareholders and our investors in terms of what they can expect from our financials. I think that’s been a great value that the procurement team has been able to deliver.” To support this further, EPC has placed significant investment in new technologies to transform its procurement and supply chain capabilities. Focusing first and foremost on the basics, the business is presently upgrading its ERP systems and overhauling w w w.e dge well. com

“We want to align with suppliers that really share our vision and values and to include more active participation from suppliers in terms of sustainability” 14

— Nirav Mehta, Vice President of Global Procurement at Edgewell Personal Care (EPC)

its digital foundations to provide the right

possible and streamline processes.”

level of data integrity and governance.

“We have digitized our sourcing

“If you don’t have sound fundamentals

capabilities to a great extent by imple-

to build upon, you can easily end up

menting new technological solutions

spending millions of dollars on some

for Spend Analytics, eRFx, Contracting

technology and spinning your wheels but

and Procure to Pay solutions. We are

not get the most out of it,” reflects Mehta.

also looking to transform our vendor

“We have deployed technology-enabled

life cycle management,” says Mehta.

solutions at every stage of the procure-

“What constitutes the onboarding of

ment value stream, with the objective

new suppliers, vendor master automa-

to reduce redundancies, automate where

tion and self-service, to performance


management of our suppliers, to

individual within procurement. The

offboarding and exiting suppliers upon

technology will aim to develop a consist-

the ending of a relationship. We are

ent level of competency across a number

utilizing digital solutions not only to

of important focal areas, where the

make the procurement function more

existing skills and knowledge of every

efficient and streamlined, but also to

employee is assessed against the

develop and train our colleagues.�

competencies and skills required for

Introducing a web-based learning

their position, Mehta explains. The

and training platform, EPC has sought

technology will then illustrate a set of

to provide a personalized capability

interactive courses each employee

assessment and training plan for every

must take online to close any skills gap. w w w.e dge well. com

“All in all, we’ve been utilizing technology solutions to a great extent. People, skill and capability development, while having streamlined, automated processes are enabling faster decisions,” he says. EPC’s technological focus has even extended to towards its supply relationship management (SRM). Developing sophisticated criteria around segmenting its supply base to gain a greater understanding of its strategic suppliers, as well as ones which are critical to the business, EPC has issued scorecards 16

to measure supplier performance, drive collaboration and improve the overall performance and relationship with its key partners. EPC Procurement is also playing a critical role in adding value to EPC’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability priorities. “We have a pretty strong supplier code of conduct but we have also developed a sustainable sourcing policy, where we’ve made sustainability and corporate social responsibility key factors in determining our supplier selection and onboarding criteria,” says Mehta. “We do evaluations of our key suppliers based on their commitment to their people, their


CSR, and how well they are managing

products and the planet, EPC has

their environmental footprint. We want

a number of success stories highlighting

to align with suppliers that really share

its commitment to ensuring a sustainable

our vision and values and to include more

future. Its recent Banana Boat sun care

active participation from suppliers

line, Simply Perfect, now has 25% fewer

in terms of sustainability. We in EPC

ingredients. Its Bulldog skincare brand

Procurement are in a unique position to

has also recently launched an original

influence our suppliers to do the right

natural bamboo razor instead of using

thing for the people and for the planet.�

plastic, which has been met with

Through three main pillars: people,

applause. “For Bulldog, we have also w w w.e dge well. com


• EPC adopted a hands-on mitigation and trade tariff management strategy, leading the business to be granted exemptions by the US Department of Commerce • EPC is upgrading its ERP systems and overhauling its digital foundations to provide the right level of data integrity and governance 18

• EPC is exploring innovative technologies, such as robotic process automation to automate manual and repetitive tasks, such as contract and shopping cart reviews

moved from sourcing fossil fuel-based plastic to bio-based plastic. When you look at activities like the sourcing of our palm oil, we have also made a commitment to source 100% of our palm oils from sustainable sources,� adds Mehta. By making a significant effort to transform the procurement function and working to ensure all its supply sources are fully accountable, EPC continues to do the right thing. Serving local communities and developing sustainable products and services which promote innovation, passion and creativity across all avenues, the company will continue to challenge convention to drive future growth, harness an agile mindset as the CPG industry continues to evolve, and deliver on its long-term vision, placing consumers at the core and supporting their overall wellbeing.

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Edgewell Personal Care 6 Research Drive Shelton Connecticut 06484

Profile for Supply Chain Digital

Edgewell Personal Care brochure – March 2019  

Edgewell Personal Care brochure – March 2019  

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