Successful business to business (B2B) ecommerce is all about streamlining processes to improve efficiency and reduce costs, both for suppliers and buyers. Can punchout make a difference to your business?

Punchout is one of several names given to the technical protocols or routines (for example cXML or OCI) that allow suppliers to directly connect their product catalogues to a buyer’s e-procurement system (such as Ariba, Oracle or SAP). A punchout catalogue is really a dedicated website created specifically for that customer’s e-procurement system.

Buyers leave or ‘punch out’ of their company’s procurement system and go to your catalogue to find and order products, while their application stays connected with your website to collect relevant information.

Once a basket of items has been created it is transferred back into the customer’s system to build a purchase order which, after internal approval, can be sent back electronically to you.

Should you be considering investing in a new B2B ecommerce platform or buying a stand-alone punchout solution to remain competitive or to grow your business?

Companies that have integrated new purchasing technologies are certainly making it into a competitive advantage.

Large organisations awarding new contracts are increasingly specifying punchout as a requirement to help reduce their costs of purchasing.

Typically, a supplier supporting purchasing through punchout is considered to be 15% cheaper than a competitor who doesn’t. Streamlining processes benefits you and the supplier too.

Options to integrate with your customer’s purchasing technology can also help to build long-term relationships. Better still, once established on an approved supplier list, spending with other suppliers will be minimised.

However, each buyer’s e-procurement system will be different and this can make the punchout connection challenging for suppliers. If you intend to offer it as an option, you will need to be able to accommodate everything from a spreadsheet to real-time integration with your own ERP and financial systems.

There are different approaches including direct point-to-point connection (such as Electronic Data Interchange) between the buyer and seller sites, hosting your information on the customer’s site or organising information from multiple suppliers into an application on the buyer’s server.

Punchout allows buyers to access information on your website, rather than collecting information for the buyer’s application. It is better than the line-by-line Catalogue Interchange Format (CIF) because it creates a user-friendly buying experience that is personalised and customer-specific. You can expand your product descriptions, recommend accessories and related products and control tiered and custom pricing or contract specific pricing.

In short – you’re making it easy for buyers to do business with you. And that can mean the difference between buyers selecting you or one of your competitors.

Williams Commerce has an experienced support and development team that can help you to define and develop a punchout solution to get your business punching above its weight. Support can be flexible, ranging from fixed support contracts to pay-as-you-go.

Get in touch to discuss your options.