Traditional B2B sales depended entirely on maintaining one-on-one relationships with procurement professionals.
While these sales procedures had the age-old charms of human touch and close-knit business relations, today’s world is keener on faster solutions that achieve their end result with precision.
Manual B2B trading is time-consuming, has miscommunication tendencies, and is highly error-prone.
Since the eCommerce boom, B2C companies have leveraged the ease-of-use and wide-ranging advantages of selling online. Not too far behind, B2B eCommerce has also seen an upsurge in demand in the past few years.
With new technological innovations elevating the B2B trading landscape, we’ve seen a multitude of software tools that have redefined how business is conducted at large.
For example, SaaS eProcurement platforms have automated the entire procurement process for businesses, right from the selection of goods to the creation of requisition orders to invoicing.
If you’re a seller aiming to enhance the procurement capabilities of your business and eliminating supply chain impediments, then a level 2 PuchOut catalog system might just be the answer. It merges eCommerce with eProcurement platforms to give you and your B2B buyers a centralized and seamless sales/purchase experience.
Let’s see how:
How does a PunchOut System Work?
A PunchOut Catalog is essentially an interface between an eProcurement solution and a suppliers’ eCommerce website, facilitating account-based trading between the two parties. Meaning, a buyer on an eProcurement platform can shop directly from an approved eCommerce supplier without having to visit their website.
Let’s see how this process works:
- An online catalog or a PunchOut catalog is displayed on the eProcurement website. Companies or interested buyers can view the offer that has been negotiated with the supplier. On selection, the end-user leaves or ‘punches out’ of the procurement platform, and is redirected to the supplier’s online store. Following automatic authentication, they can browse, compare, and select products on the store like regular shoppers.
- Once buyers are through with their shopping, their cart items are sent back to their procurement solution, and a requisition or purchase order is created.
- A PunchOut catalog connects to the supplier’s database. This means that the supplier will create the catalog, ensuring that all classification standards are met and relevant information (company details, available stock, price changes) has been updated.
Level 1 PunchOut Catalog
A Level 1 PunchOut catalog is available to the buyer on their eProcurement framework in two ways:
- The supplier appears as a list of items in the master catalog of the procurement system.
- Or as a link to a PunchOut website, to which the buyer will be redirected on clicking.
So, the buyer can either search through their eProcurement solution’s master catalog for the supplier name or visit the supplier’s website and view their PunchOut catalog to place an order.
The drawback here is that users generally don’t know which supplier sells the product they need or which supplier’s catalog will list that product. This is why they prefer the best of both worlds, which brings us to our next section-
Level 2 PunchOut Catalog: Everything you Need to Know
A. What is a Level 2 PunchOut Catalog?
A level 2 PunchOut catalog is a cut above its predecessor in the sense that it offers an advanced catalog searching experience, making it significantly more convenient for buyers.
It allows buyers to directly search for products and items from their procurement platform itself. Meaning, they don’t have to redirect to the supplier’s product catalog first, only to discover that it does not list their desired product.
This is beneficial, especially when the e-procurement system has pre-established connections with multiple suppliers. We know that suppliers provide their own distinct catalogs to these platforms. When the customers want to purchase a product, they will be clueless as to which catalog they should be scouting for their wanted product.
In a Level 2 PunchOut, suppliers provide their product catalog in a Commerce eXtensible Markup Language, (cXML) file. A cXML and PunchOut mechanism displays products without pricing and other information, and buyers can search for products straight from the procurement system’s search tool. Instead of a static CIF catalog, buyers can access a PunchOut catalog version of the supplier’s eCommerce website.
B. How does Level 2 PunchOut Work?
Here’s how the experience will look from the buyer’s perspective:
- The buyer will enter the product in the eProcurement platform’s search bar.
- Multiple PunchOut Catalogs containing that product will be displayed in the search results.
- The buyer will choose one of the products and click on the subsequent product catalog link.
- The buyer will be redirected to the supplier’s PunchOut website and can view the prevailing price, and other important product details.
- The buyer will then enter the quantity they want, and either go back to the procurement platform to place an order or continue browsing for more products.
Benefits of a Level 2 PunchOut Catalog
1. Access to real-time information
It should be noted that Level 2 PunchOuts aren’t static, but dynamic files where information is updated in real-time.
The buyer essentially visits the supplier’s eCommerce store directly after finding their product, and thus the information that they see is entirely up-to-date. Any changes made in any pertinent information (prices, discounts, availability, shipping costs, etc.) are automatically updated on the interface of the PunchOut catalog by the supplier.
2. Convenient search functionality
Level 1 PunchOut’s major drawback is that the customer might have to visit various supplier catalogs just to find out if their product is available there. Level 2 overcomes this shortcoming completely by its efficient search functionality.
The customers can search for products directly from the eProcurement framework, making their shopping painless and swift.
3. Increased buyer satisfaction
Improved customer experiences have a high chance of translating into buyer satisfaction and retention. Level 2 PunchOut reduces acquisition costs for buyers as well as sellers. Buyers can easily avail latest product and seller information from a single platform.
B2B eCommerce sellers can adapt PunchOut integrations and expand their customer base through eProcurement platforms. Clearly, a Level 2 PunchOut catalog is profitable technology for all the parties involved.
4. Better Expenditure management
B2B purchases are facilitated through one platform, where they are simplified and streamlined. Companies or buyers regularly take advantage of special or adjusted prices on various products through negotiation.
5. More accurate sales-cycle
Traditional order processing methods are vulnerable to costly errors like mistaken pricing, wrong quantity, inaccurate delivery schedules, misconfigured products, and much more.
Level 2 PunchOut eliminates these errors at the root level, by automating and computerizing tasks that are risk-prone. This way, customers always get access to clear-cut information and can place orders without making any mistakes.
6. Feasibility in procurement
Manual purchase transactions for B2B businesses involve higher overhead costs, dramatically raising the overall expenditure for all the parties involved. Since trading through PunchOut software is entirely digitized, the cost of transacting is notably less, thanks to reduced labor charges and easy procurement of information.
Create a PunchOut Software System with VARStreet
1. Ready-made PunchOut
VARStreet has pre-built PunchOut software with many popular procurement systems, including Ariba, Jaggaer, Oracle, Coupa, Workday, and more. Your customers can easily link your VAR eCommerce store to their eProcurement systems.
VARStreet helps sellers create and set up PunchOut catalogs within a fortnight, in accordance with their customer demands.
2. Single Sign-in
Buyers don’t have to sign in to the system twice, as the seller’s eCommerce store is launched and approved within the eProcurement system of the buyer.
3. Pre-configured stores
VARStreet’s default functionality enables suppliers to configure the catalog and pricing shown on the store for every login. Landing page configuration is also supported, which means that suppliers can edit the front end of the store according to the tastes of the visiting customer. This helps businesses provide highly personalized experiences to their buyers, increasing their chances of converting.
4. Round-the-clock Support
VARStreet offers top-class customer service that is ready to assist suppliers and offers solutions 24×7. Suppliers can get in touch with the support team to request PunchOut implementation. They will either work with the supplier’s end customer directly in order to fulfill their requirements perfectly or use the documentation provided by customers to build seller catalogs.
Either way, sellers need not worry about setting up, testing, and launching their PunchOut catalog, as everything will be handled by VARStreet’s support team in a matter of few days.
A market report by Kenneth Research revealed, “The advantage of using the procurement software is that it reduces the external cost associated with the process and also enhances process efficiencies.”
This is why buyers increasingly require sellers to integrate their eCommerce business with eProcurement systems. And any business selling through their customer’s preferred channels is bound to attract buyers in large numbers and close more deals.
B2B PunchOut catalogs are undoubtedly the future of online procurement, helping you expand your user base by leveraging eProcurement systems.