How do Punchout eCommerce Work?


eProcurement has revolutionized how businesses handle their procurement processes. It helps them automate purchase order creation, approvals, and other procurement steps.

If you are an engineering startup trying to create revolutionary technology, eProcurement can help you simplify the buying process and concentrate on your business.

However, the best way to enjoy the benefits of eProcurement is using eCommerce Punchout by integrating the system with your supplier's eCommerce platform.

In this article, we dig into B2B punchout eCommerce.

Table of contents:

  1. What is B2B Punchout in eCommerce?
  2. How does eCommerce Punchout Work?
  3. What is a Punchout Website?
  4. The Punchout Process from the Buyer's Side
  5. Benefits of punchout

What is B2B PunchOut in eCommerce?

The biggest problem you'll face as a buyer is switching between your procurement platforms and the supplier's eCommerce platform to look at products. It slows down the procurement process and opens room for errors.

B2B punchout bridges this gap and connects the supplier's product catalog to your purchasing system. As a result, you'll handle the procurement process in a single controlled environment. You'll search, browse, compare, and buy products without switching platforms.

How do eCommerce Punchouts Work?

Adopting an eCommerce punchout means integrating your eProcurement system with your vendor's eCommerce software or application. This integration allows for a smooth flow of data and information between the systems. As a result, you, as the buyer, get real-time information about your sellers' catalog.

However, B2B punchout integration is a challenging task. You'll face many potential platform combinations, including eProcurement, spend management, and ERP platforms.

Each platform utilizes various communication protocols and APIs that are usually incompatible. This incompatibility means you'll have to use a system compatible with your suppliers' eCommerce platforms which may also vary. It may mean getting a new eProcurement system or using multiple.

These systems' most common communication protocols and APIs include cXML Punchout, OCI, EDI, iDOC, CSV, and email.

Using different platforms, you will have to use compatible software or translators to translate the machine-readable data to human-readable data.

Approaches to Integration

There are two ways to carry our eCommerce punchout Integration:

1. Custom Integration

Custom integration requires you and the seller to collaborate in developing and hosting software that enables your eCommerce and eProcurement platforms to communicate with each other successfully.

However, the process is slow and will dig into your operating budgets. Software development takes months of code writing, testing, and deployment. Additionally, you'll have to invest in resources and external expertise to handle the custom integration.

2. Cloud Gateways

You can use the cloud gateway if you don't wish to go the custom integration route. It involves the gateway existing in the 'cloud': a third party(B2B eCommerce punchout integration provider) builds, manages, and hosts the gateway.

The service provider will ensure that they develop a gateway that can process data from various eCommerce and eProcurement systems. This ensures that the gateway is mediating communications between incompatible platforms.

Third-party-managed punchout gateway is simpler and more cost-effective for you and your business partners. You'll not need to hire experts to develop and handle the system and have more time to concentrate on more urgent engineering matters.

One of the most common eCommerce Punchout integration providers is PunchOut2Go. It is a managed cloud service that ingests data from hundreds of eCommerce applications and eProcurement platforms and translates it as it moves from one platform to another. It enables punchout catalogs for BigCommerce and any cXML or OCI eProcurement platform.

What is a Punchout Website?

A punchout website is a part of a vendor's eCommerce website that is accessible from the buyer's eProcurement platform. It lets the buyers start and complete the procurement process without leaving their purchasing systems.

As a buyer, you'll not host the website on your platforms. On the contrary, the eCommerce site is owned, managed, and hosted by the seller. The odd thing is that you can access it from your eProcurement platform.

You'll only access your eProcurement system, where you'll view the supplier's catalog without importing or hosting their catalog. Instead, the vendor hosts it, but you enjoy the benefits of a personalized eCommerce store.

The only way your eProcurement system accesses the seller's eCommerce platform is through the integration of the platforms.

If you use a cloud integration gateway, it will manage data interchange, purchase orders, invoices, and the whole purchasing process.

Alternatives to Punchout Websites

Before the advent of punchout websites, buyers used catalogs hosted on their infrastructure or platforms. The problem with these catalogs is that they would quickly get outdated and are less user-friendly.

The supplier needed to send you their updated catalogs which were tiresome to host.

The Punchout Process from the Buyer's Side

Here is how the eCommerce punchout process will look for you, the buyer.

  1. You'll log into your eProcurement system and search or browse for a preferred supplier among the pre-approved.
  2. You will be sent directly to the supplier's eCommerce store.
  3. The system automatically handles your authentication, and you'll access your account on the eCommerce store.
  4. You'll add the items you need to the cart and will have no power to change or edit the seller's catalog. You'll also access custom product selection and personalized discounts from the seller.
  5. After filling the cut, you'll punch out instead of checking out. The order data is automatically transferred to your eProcurement for approval.
  6. Once you approve the data, a purchase order is created in your supplier's eCommerce store.

Benefits of Punchouts

Punchout catalogs revolutionized the procurement system. Here are some of the benefits of adopting punchout catalogs.

Up-to-Date Information

Punchout catalog allows your sellers to manage their catalog in real-time. So if they make a change or add or remove a product, it is reflected on your side.

You'll see the difference in available products, prices, discounts, promotions, and relevant information without the challenging task of importing and hosting a catalog. Instead, all you have to do is access the supplier's punchout website from your eProcurement platform.

Cost-effective Purchasing

While eProcurement helps an organization reduce expenditure and manage procurement data and process consolidation, you can't enjoy all its benefits minus integration.

Integrating your eProcurement to your vendor's eCommerce platform lets the systems automatically process thousands of transactions. Unfortunately, when these transactions are manually handled, they attract high expenditures.

Additionally, the seamless flow of data and information between platforms means no paperwork, which reduces cost and frees you and your staff to work on world-changing technologies.

Reduced Error and Increased Accuracy

Manual handling of processes is prone to various critical errors. For example, you may make duplicate orders, use the wrong price, quantity, and delivery time, and forget to add information.

Purchasing errors can have dire consequences like late delivery, overpayment, underpayment, and wrong deliveries.

Punchout catalogs automate the procurement process eliminating any space for errors. As a result, all the data exchanged between you and your supplier is always accurate.

Improved Supplier Relationships

As competition becomes stiff, buyers and sellers will prefer working with businesses that make it easier to cooperate. So using punchout catalogs can improve how your partners view you.

Punchout Integration allows you and your supplier to collaborate smoothly without problems. In addition, automating the purchasing process eliminates errors, which means fewer conflicts between you.

The reduced costs also mean that your suppliers can give you reduced prices and discounts, making your business more profitable.

Improve your Engineering Procurement Process with Punchout 

The punchout catalog has revolutionized how businesses handle their procurement processes. It will help you access your supplier's catalog at any time while also allowing your customers to view your catalog at any time.

You'll have a faster, more efficient, and error-free procurement process that will improve business operations.

While catalogs were deemed expensive, they are now a cost-effective way to handle procurement. Ensure you integrate your eProcurement system to your supplier's eCommerce platform. Managed third-party integration will do the work for you.

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