Signed just hours after sending.

The Otto Group brings digital collaboration to a new level with Adobe Acrobat Sign.

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Established

1949


Employees: 50,000 (2021)

Hamburg, Germany
www.adobe.com

Signature processes reduced to just a few hours versus up to three weeks

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Objectives

Faster procurement processes to create an agile business environment

Increased capacity for key strategic purchasing

The same legal value as handwritten signatures

Low training costs and high acceptance among employees

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Results

Signature processes completed in a just few hours make ad-hoc procurement easier

Saving time enables more effective purchasing consultancy for business-critical projects

Standard compliant and secure signatures meet the strictest compliance requirements

Users love the intuitive experience and minimal support required

The path to a digital future

The Otto Group is on a clear course to a digital future. The retail and service group has successfully developed from a traditional mail order company to one of the largest online retailers in the world. The Otto Group aims to consistently expand and grow its role as a digital leader across multiple specialisms — as an e-commerce marketplace, electronic payment specialist and app developer for positive customer experiences. To achieve this, the Group is investing heavily in the digital transformation of its internal processes. As well as the OTTO headquarters, Group companies such as myToys, ECE, WITT and Bonprix are simplifying their signature processes by using time-saving e-signatures through Adobe Acrobat Sign.

The paper hurdle for agile working

Time is important to Lukas Lübberstedt. As a strategic purchaser in the Otto (GmbH & Co KG) Corporate Procurement department, he procures digital tools to support in-house software with the company’s rapid transformation from a mail order business into a digital marketplace. “As a tech company, we develop on the basis of agility. The sprint working style means that the company needs to be able to achieve rapid procurement as well. Our aim for the purchasing department is to optimize our processes and, if possible, to speed them up with new solutions — in this case, with Acrobat Sign,” explains Lübberstedt, who is responsible for introducing the electronic signature tool at OTTO.

Handwritten signatures on supplier contracts have long been slowing the strategic purchasing team down. Sending contracts over long distances in the mail and then through multiple levels of hierarchy can take up to several weeks — which isn’t compatible with a modern growth strategy. When the eIDAS Regulation defined legal standards for electronic signatures in 2019, OTTO finally had the all-clear to gradually replace handwritten signatures.

 

As well as its ease of use and high compatibility with the existing IT landscape, Acrobat Sign was a solution that was able to meet the Group’s compliance requirements.


“Acrobat Sign is very intuitive and easy to use. You don’t need to be an IT expert to get started, which immediately convinced almost everyone that it’s ‘cooler’ to sign documents electronically rather than by hand.”

 
Lukas Lübberstedt

Strategic Purchasing Manager IT, Otto (GmbH & Co KG)


Scaling with speed

Acrobat Sign was introduced at the Otto Group in March 2020. Originally planned as a pilot project for the procurement department at the Group’s headquarters, it was immediately obvious how scalable the solution was. When the pandemic placed new demands on digital collaboration, large parts of the OTTO campus in Hamburg quickly said “Goodbye pen and paper, hello e-signatures.”  Many other locations quickly moved to adopt Acrobat Sign as well.

 

Services and goods purchasing, finance and event organization: By the end of 2021, 30 of the Group’s departments and companies across Germany, Austria and Switzerland were on board, with around 500 documents signed using Acrobat Sign. And these numbers are only rising.

 

When onboarding lots of new users over a short period, Lukas Lübberstedt can count on the Adobe solution: “Acrobat Sign is very intuitive and easy to use. You don’t need to be an IT expert to get started, which immediately convinced almost everyone that it’s ‘cooler’ to sign documents electronically rather than by hand.” says the purchasing expert.

 

Even the Qualified Electronic Signature (QES) was accepted right from the start. Because of the identity verification, it takes more steps to set up. However, as the most secure type of e-signature, the QES allows the Otto Group to sign off on employee transfers and financial matters with Acrobat Sign.


“In purchasing, we can focus more on the truly important tasks thanks to the time saved through using Acrobat Sign, meaning that we can contribute even more to the company’s success.”

 
Lukas Lübberstedt

Strategic Purchasing Manager IT, Otto (GmbH & Co KG)


Greater performance in digital competition

With Acrobat Sign, the Otto Group has significantly accelerated its procurement processes. “Acrobat Sign has reduced weeks into mere hours. It no longer matters where the authorized signatories are. If it’s needed quickly, a signature can still be formally equivalent when the signatory is out of office,” explains Lukas Lübberstedt.

When purchasing professionals don’t have to chase after signatures, it’s easier for them to execute short-term procurement orders themselves at the Otto Group’s high growth rate. More time also means more valuable capacity for the purchasing department to offer strategic consultancy. The right selection of tools is important for achieving the best possible performance, making it a key competitive factor. 

 

“In purchasing, we can focus more on the truly important tasks thanks to the time saved through using Acrobat Sign, meaning that we can contribute even more to the company’s success,” explains Lukas Lübberstedt.

Next objective: digital workflows

To convince users, Lukas Lübberstedt plans to use Acrobat Sign as a foundation for building a digital future for OTTO purchasing. This means that use will be expanded to include international Group contracts. Integrating digital workflows into office solutions will also become more important in the future. The Otto Group has already successfully tested initiating signature processes directly from Microsoft Teams, for example, thanks to Acrobat Sign interface.

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