You may not be a big-time distributor with deep pockets, but that doesn’t mean you can’t compete with them in the eCommerce ring. With advancements in B2B technology, even small to mid-sized distributors can have a successful e-business, especially if they offer punchout capabilities.
What once was viewed as a “value-added” feature is now becoming a requirement for distributors, especially for those with customers in the government or higher education fields. Designed to create a direct connection between B2B companies and their buyers, punchout tools give customers the ability to shop for products on a distributor’s website and then purchase them through the customer’s electronic procurement system, without ever having to leave their procurement system.
How do punchouts work?
First, a buyer first logs in to his or her company’s e-procurement system. Once logged in, the buyer “punches out” from his company’s system to the distributor’s web-based product catalog, also known as a punchout catalog. Punchout technology maintains a connection between the procurement system and the distributor’s website so that customer account information, including customer-specific catalog content and pricing, is captured and displayed for the buyer. The buyer then has the freedom to search for items from the vendor catalogs and add them to his shopping cart. Once the buyer is ready to check out, his shopping cart automatically transfers to his company’s e-procurement system where all the items are collected and submitted as an order to the distributor using its normal procurement system methods.
Why add punchouts?
Typically, e-procurement systems do not provide the best user experience for searching, browsing, and accessing product information, so punchouts solve this problem by linking buyers to a better shopping experience via your website. When you provide punchouts as a purchase option for customers, you’ll not only simplify the buying process for them, you’ll deliver a value-added customer experience like the big B2B retailers do. In addition, many customer RFPs for medium to large purchases require punchout technology in order to even do business with them. Because punchout tools provide an efficient and cost-effective purchase method for customers, they are quickly becoming a differentiator for those distributors who offer it. Consider these added benefits punchouts give your customers and your organization:
- Easy, single sign-on through the buyer’s e-procurement system
- Personalized catalogs for quick and easy product searches
- Accurate orders and streamlined workflows resulting in speedy order approvals
- Better purchasing management as all transactions are executed within their e-procurement system
- Eliminates duplicate data entry
- Increased exposure to new users within a single customer account
- The potential to attract new customers and gain more sales with existing customers
- Improved internal efficiencies and cost savings across your organization
- A leading edge over competing distributors without punchout capabilities
If you’re thinking of expanding your eCommerce offerings to include punchout technology, Unilog’s all-in-one eCommerce software provides a self-configurable punchout option as part of its core platform. And, for those businesses who need a more specific or technical punchout solution, Unilog has a Punchouts add-on module that integrates your eCommerce site with procurement systems like Ariba and Oracle to create a personalized user interface with custom product catalogs for your customers. With our powerful digital commerce software and Punchouts module, you’re able to provide the same online experience as huge suppliers, but for a fraction of the cost. Want to go toe-to-toe with the competition? Then get punchouts in your corner today!