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Customer Snapshot

Doing Things Differently to Make a Big Difference in the World

>2  billion people

use products from >400 brands
each day

Long before the phrase ‘corporate mission’ became popular, William Hesketh Lever developed Sunlight Soap to promote cleanliness and hygiene in Victorian England. Across three centuries, Unilever’s continued success has been based on creating products that help people get more out of life. Today Unilever is still building on this heritage, inspiring people to take everyday actions that can add up to a big difference for the world.






Customer Website


Number of Employees


Line of Business

Sustainability, Finance, Supply Chain, Information Technology


Consumer Products

Featured Products

Ariba Network, SAP Invoice Management by OpenText, SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA


Creating a better future from the beginning


  • 1885Two companies started up in different countries: Margarine Unie in the Netherlands and Lever Brothers in the UK. Both founding companies produced products made from oils and fats, principally soap and margarine.
  • 1920Margarine Unie and Lever Brothers merged to create Unilever.
  • 1940The business continued to expand into the foods market and Unilever increases their investment in research and development.
  • 1950Business boomed as new technology and the European Economic Community lead to rising standards of living in the West and new markets opened up in emerging economies around the globe.
  • 1960As the world economy expanded, so did Unilever. They developed new products, entered new markets, and embarked on a highly ambitious acquisition program.
  • 1980Now one of the world's biggest companies, Unilever decided to focus on core products and brands.
  • 1990The business expanded into Central and Eastern Europe.
  • 2009Unilever announced a new corporate vision - working to create a better future every day - and entered the 2010s with a new strategy.
  • 2010Unilever launched their Sustainable Living Plan.

Business Model

Deep roots and diverse product spread

From face cream to ice cream, Unilever products can be found in homes around the world. These include famous brand names such as Dove, Knorr, Lipton, Omo, and Hellman’s. By combining their multinational expertise with deep roots in diverse local cultures, Unilever provides a wide range of products to suit a wealth of consumers.


Unilever operates in more than 190 countries and manufactures over 400 brands. They employ more than 6,000 scientists, engineers, chefs, and technicians in research and development centers around the globe.

Success Strategy

Follow the compass

Unilever launched “The Compass” strategy in 2009, with the vision of sustainable growth that makes a positive impact on planet earth, and that will double the size of their business.


That stragegy includes their "Sustainable Living Plan" which plans on:



unilever’s positive

social impact



1 billion people
improve their health
and well-being



their environmental


For example, Unilever wants to sustainably source 100% of their raw agricultural materials.

The Challenge

Fast growth means data explosion

Unilever’s ambitious growth plan also means handling volumes of data that are growing at an extremely fast rate. This data growth results in system and footprint growth, bigger networks, and more and more points to connect.


With an organization as big as Unilever, simplifying core processes can be a real challenge.

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They have more than 4 million invoices to process each year…

Historically, Unilever also had many back office processes that were cumbersome and could only be run quarterly. Often it could be a 3-week activity to create certain reports and analyze the results. Just running reports was a very manual process with some reports taking in excess of 16 hours to process.

Enter SAP

Going way back together

Unilever and SAP’s history together stretches back over 10 years, with SAP software supporting Unilever’s end-to-end business operations. During this time, the two companies worked together to consolidate almost 200 instances of ERP to 4 regional instances.


At the core of this journey was Unilever’s desire to accelerate the business while simplifying and improving the user experience.


Faced with massive and still growing data sets, Unilever became an early adopter of the SAP HANA platform. During a Design Thinking workshop, Unilever recognized the potential for even greater acceleration and simplification of their core processes. People across the organization started to investigate scenarios where SAP HANA could drive real value to the business in areas such supply chain, finance, and marketing.

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Thinking differently with SAP HANA

The SAP Experience

Facing reality, focusing on opportunity

Unilever and SAP have strengthened their partnership further with a completely aligned set of metrics, a common understanding of the challenges at hand, and a focus on future opportunities. Unilever continues to rely on their core IT platform to drive innovation and continuous improvement. They also developed a Unilever Centre of Expertise in Bangalore to help roll out new programs seamlessly and offer comprehensive support to end users.

Better Business

The compass is accurate

Unilever has seen many benefits from their SAP HANA implementation that directly support the goals laid out by The Compass Plan.


Resource and process refinements

Unilever has simplified and accelerated many of their core processes. Some of those reports that once took weeks to compile, for example, can now be run in under 1 day. This, in turn, has significantly reduced the resources required to run these activities.


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Accelerating month-end closing steps

With more than 4 million invoices from suppliers annually, and 90% being paper, Unilever needed a way to streamline management and improve efficiency. To support multiple channels, suppliers, and geographies, the company implemented a global invoice management solution that integrates the SAP® Invoice Management application by OpenText with the Ariba® Network.


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A solution that supports 380,000 suppliers

Unilever is also seeing huge benefits in simplified user interfaces that are more intuitive to use. Not only is the interface increasing productivity and improving data qualify, but it reduces training costs across the organization. The best part is that users are asking for more.


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Delighting the end-user

Run Simple

Creating one Unilever

Technology is at the heart of Unilever’s continuous improvement plan. Integrating end-to-end solutions that improve access to information and change the way the company is able to make decisions will break down barriers and enable Unilever to take their business to the next level.


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Strategically driving into new territories

Journey Ahead

Reaching the billion mark!

By 2020, Unilever hopes to help more than one billion people take action to improve their health and well-being. To reach that goal, technology will be at the heart of everything they do.

Unilever and SAP will continue to collaborate to exploit all the benefits the SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA can offer to their core operations. And Unilever is pursuing other projects focused on user interface, mobility, and cloud solutions.


Unilever is committed to delivering benefits quickly with processes that are simpler, faster, and more agile. This can make a big difference to the business, and to consumers around the world.

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