The digital era has redefined buying and selling; a projected USD $4.13 trillion was transacted via online sales over the last year alone. Companies looking to adapt and thrive need to carve out space and recreate sales cycles virtually.
The objective is;
- Form an easy to use, yet aesthetic, purchasing system
- Ensure it offers comprehensive information
- Maximize customer service
How are organizations achieving these goals? Through the incorporation of eCommerce platforms and eProcurement systems.
B2B resellers, in particular, translate value that exceeds the provision of goods or services down to the customer. The investment into your purchasing portal could be the reason you close a sale.
However, it is critical to understand the difference between PunchOut catalogs and B2B eCommerce sites before taking a call.
eProcurement vs eCommerce
Electronic procurement (eProcurement) and electronic commerce (eCommerce) are used for B2B transactions. The similarities between the two are minimal.
The first being all eCommerce systems can process online transactions but a limited amount of eProcurement systems do the same.
Second and lastly, all eProcurement systems are able to process RFQs (Request for Quotation) but a small number of eCommerce systems perform the same task.
The core difference between the two lies in the reason the software is built. eCommerce platforms are designed with the needs of the supplying company in mind.
eProcurement platforms are built for customer ease. Businesses use them to process B2B purchasing. Supplying companies learn the needs of the business and create custom catalogs and pricing.
Additionally, the processes to complete the transaction can be fully customized based on what both companies need.
The buyers get to streamline the suppliers that are part of their eProcurement system. Access to the catalogs is provided to select employees who monitor expenditure and budgets.
PunchOut catalogs help buyers breeze through the purchasing process including;
- Task flow management for pre-purchase approval
- Lists of suppliers categorized by preference or approval by the buyer
- Creation of purchase orders
- Managing goods/services delivered against a purchase order
- Access and permissions
- Mechanisms for budgeting
- Monitoring overall expenditure
B2B vendors use eCommerce platforms to market and retail their products. The systems optimize seller activities.
eCommerce platforms help businesses process orders, manage customer relationships, introduce new marketing strategies, break into new markets, emphasize corporate identity and finally create more value for existing customers.
For buyers, it makes the purchasing process simpler. They are able to enter a unified platform to contact the company, place orders or send in RFQs.
Common capabilities of eCommerce software include;
- Managing content
- Handling online purchasing with a shopping cart
- Creating and managing custom catalogs
- Customer access hierarchies
- Creating and managing several pricing lists
- Personalization and customization
- Virtual RFQ and RFP submission
- Workflow management
PunchOut systems and eProcurement systems are designed to interact with each other. B2B eCommerce sites fall under eCommerce modules.
What is a PunchOut System?
- When eCommerce systems meet eProcurement systems, punchout catalogs are born.
- PunchOut catalogs are portals with streamlined inventory at subsidized costing. They offer a unique selection to buyers based on the needs discussed with the supplier. As a result, buyers always see relevant products and are more likely to transact.
- B2B PunchOut systems get their name from how they redirect customers. Buyers are “punched out” of their eProcurement system and moved to the sellers digital purchasing portal.
- PunchOut systems act as an intermediary between the eProcurement and eCommerce systems. When the buyer is ready to complete the transaction, a purchase order is sent to the buyer’s eProcurement system from the PunchOut system.
- The buyer is then able to conduct all the back end activities required to complete the purchase order.
- PunchOut systems offer an efficient, time and resource-saving method of sharing inventory and special services. Buyers no longer have to download heavy PDFs or send requests for concessions on large orders.
Sellers can automate the entire selling cycle and ensure it works cohesively with the customers existing systems, making messy back and forths a thing of the past.
What is a B2B eCommerce Site?
B2B eCommerce sites sit at the foundation of moving buying and selling to a virtual space. eCommerce sites act as the interface between a supplier and a customer.
Customers access inventory, pricing, marketing efforts, communication with the company and check out all from the same portal.
For the seller, this helps centralize all business-related information and transactions to one customizable location. Customers can create an account on the eCommerce platform enabling a single point of access for all information relating to their activities.
Once logged in, they are able to view special perks and features offered to them based on their purchase history.
Depending on how the B2B eCommerce site is built, customers create purchase orders or complete the transaction within the same portal.
Large scale B2B purchasing has never been more visually appealing, easy to use or versatile.
Making A Decision
B2B PunchOut systems and B2B eCommerce platforms optimize buying and selling. While PunchOut catalogs are buyer-centric, eCommerce portals are seller centric.
How do you decide between the two? Don’t. Consider catalog integration.
Many large businesses now demand PunchOut from their suppliers. B2B sellers who want to conduct business with these companies need to offer PunchOut.
The PunchOut catalog is held on an eCommerce platform. The supplier is able to either send out a PO or complete the sales cycle.
PunchOut catalog integration with an eCommerce site offers a comprehensive B2B experience. A customer can ‘punch out’ to your easy to use website through their procurement application.
The PunchOut offers them access to a customized PunchOut catalog and general inventory. Depending on their requirements, buyers can look through bundles, items and create custom packages.
With a PunchOut integration in an eCommerce B2B platform, clients can move back and forth to edit their cart. Robust systems are able to grant approval at different levels and considers the number of stakeholders involved in completing the purchasing process.
Allow for the buyer to move things along at their pace, but ensure firm workflows and an easy to use interface is present to equip decision-makers with the information they need.
Create a unique purchasing experience with a number of on-market solutions that offer PunchOut integration with their B2B eCommerce building tools.
B2B businesses are dependent on offering comprehensive information in a palatable format. With high volume orders at stake, sellers have to optimize their offerings.
Creating custom pricing and inventory access to customers based on purchasing power and necessity helps buyers understand your concern. PunchOut catalogs fulfil this requirement.
However without a dynamic eCommerce portal, where do your customers look for move information? For customer service? And to checkout?
Bringing the two together offers your organization a leg up. Offer your customers a well-rounded purchasing experience. The investment into integration could be the difference between a smooth sale and a lost client.