In B2B Commerce, What’s In is Punchout

February 9, 2023

I’ve said it once and I will say it again: B2B commerce is NOT B2C commerce. Need proof? Let’s talk about procurement.

When we talk about the digital buying experience today, here is what we tend to picture: 

Buyer has a need.
Buyer researches brands.
Buyer reads product reviews.
Buyer does basic price comparison.
Buyer buys.

I was this buyer yesterday when I bought new swim goggles for my upcoming tri training this year. You were likely this buyer recently, too.

The problem is that this buyer analogy is very B2C. And B2B buying is a different world. A world where buying isn’t a hobby, but a vital profession and one that requires education and certification. B2B buyers are sourcing vendors, goods, and services, monitoring supply and inventory levels, navigating agreements, contracts, and managing suppliers. This is procurement, a complex element of B2B commerce.

As with most complex areas of business, technology can automate and bring efficiencies to procurement. E-procurement can facilitate the solicitation of bids, manage orders, and take payments. But how can e-procurement fit in seamlessly with the rest of the B2B commerce experience? 

In a word, punchout.

Let’s explore this.

In this post, we’ll review:

  • Why many B2B companies are dependent on procurement systems;
  • What is punchout in B2B commerce;
  • B2B buyer demand for punchout capabilities within procurement systems;
  • The benefits of integrating procurement systems to enable better buying workflows.

B2B + Procurement Systems

When we talk about B2B procurement and commerce, instead of solely navigating the consumer journey, we’re also talking about manufacturer efficiencies. E-procurement systems are an important tool in helping manufacturers optimize operations, freeing up procurement employees and allowing them to focus on more innovative tasks. 

In procurement, some of the biggest challenges include accessing a wide range of products, sourcing suppliers, and anticipating supply demand. That’s where e-procurement comes in. This technology boasts pivotal capabilities to streamline procurement, including:

  • Product and supplier e-sourcing;
  • E-tendering, digital negotiation, and contracting;
  • Dashboards and analytics to track performance and monitor supply.

At Zaelab, we see many large B2B organizations manage procurement through e-procurement systems like Ariba, Coupa, Jaggae, and more. Not only do these tools streamline buying, but they also reduce risk by eliminating manual processes. 

These systems cannot and should not be operating in silo — yet for many organizations, they do. This lack of connectivity makes for a broken journey, redundant processes and information, and in fact, many of the benefits that e-procurement technology brings are simply kiboshed without connectivity. 

What is Punchout in B2B Commerce and Why Does it Matter?

Let’s talk about punchout. What is it and why does it matter in B2B commerce?

Punchout refers to e-procurement and commerce integration. With the commerce site embedded within the e-procurement system, businesses can browse catalogs and purchase supplies without leaving their own e-procurement platform. With punchout, procurement specialists can use the same software for searching and ordering products within the e-procurement experience that tracks all transactions.

This brings many benefits:

  • Procurement organizations have qualified vendors, pricing, and approval workflows;
  • Buyers and end-users alike can procure supplies in real-time;
  • Enhanced order accuracy;
  • Simplified supplier transactions;
  • And more.

E-Procurement System Integration

Many of our B2B clients have customers that require them to enable punchout within their procurement systems. Naturally, this makes sense given the operational benefits of integration. It’s a technical integration, but the benefit upon completion is a direct integration that would enable a B2B business to grow within the organization's buying workflows. 

With punchout, maintenance is essentially nonexistent. Because these catalogs are managed by the vendors, this alleviates responsibilities on the buyer side as the suppliers are responsible for ensuring catalog accuracy including supply, pricing, discounts, and shipping logistics. 

Goodbye manual order processing and sayonara duplicate orders, pricing oversights, and misconfigurations. Punchout eliminates the back-and-forth between e-commerce and e-procurement experiences, simplifying and speeding up the buying process while enhancing visibility.

Is punchout a capability you’re exploring at your B2B organization? Talk to us at Zaelab about how a technical integration can enable a seamless procurement and buying experience.

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