A punch card system is a digital storefront designed for B2B companies, government purchasers, hospitals and universities that allow various departments to make purchases from previously approved products and/or approved vendors. As demands for bulk ordering, product customizations and configurable options grow more complex, many B2B organizations want to offer their own punchout card eCommerce capabilities for valued customers so that they don’t need to leave the company’s website. Shopping lists, stores-within-stores and specialized ordering catalogs are all forms of the same thing--a punch card system that delivers bulk prices and easy ordering for items that are approved for authorized buyers within a given company.

 

The benefits of eProcurement software for managing these types of orders--both internal and external--include creating customized displays for each customer and authorized buyer, speeding procurement processing, curating products from multiple vendors so that customers never need to leave the company’s website and managing complex purchasing with ease. This improves the re-ordering experience, lowers errors and ensure that clients are getting what they purchased before.

 

Modern eProcurement Software Facilitates One-Stop Shopping

Digital technology facilitated importing supplier catalogs into eProcurement systems. Ariba designed and coded the Catalog Interchange Format (CIF) in 1996, which eliminated the need to make manual entries or convert files to different formats. [1] This method of electronic data exchange worked well for static catalogs but created lots of work for large vendors with thousands of products.

 

Customizations also introduced problems in catalog management, so the cxml.org industry consortium introduced a new interchange for document exchange called the Commerce eXtensible Markup Language (cXML) and PunchOut concept. In today’s customer-friendly and rapidly evolving electronic catalogs, a punchout website enables real-time updates and pricing, custom product configurations and customer-friendly self-service applications. However, a robust system depends on managing lots of data from both internal and external sources. That’s why integrating all software systems into the marketplace, like Clarity eCommerce, is critical to deliver a seamless and satisfying user experience.

 

The Benefits of Enabling Punchout Card eCommerce

Few B2B vendors offer a comprehensive and cohesive system for ordering all the products that department heads, maintenance staff and special teams need regularly. The benefits of a seamless and integrated punch card system include:

 

No Maintenance for External Links

  • Systems that access third-party products handle their own publication strategies and catalog maintenance, so B2B organizations don’t accrue any expenses in these areas.

Centralization

  • All catalogs for preferred suppliers are concentrated in one application, which promotes better consolidation.

Increased Sales

  • Punchout eCommerce software can put catalogs in front of thousands of the world’s biggest buyers in eProcurement marketplaces, so companies gain captive audiences.

Shopping Convenience that Rivals B2C

  • The more simplified the buyer’s experience, the faster and more convenient B2B online ordering and re-ordering will be. Buyers can buy products and conduct searches within a familiar user interface, or UI. This kind of user experience rivals what retail shoppers get from marketplace platforms such as Amazon or Google.

Faster Processing

  • Buyers can speed processing, order fulfillment and special requests with an integrated punchout system. The whole purchasing cycle is automated, optimized and accelerated.

Reduction of Paperwork

  • Purchasing is electronically automated, so the paperwork necessary for purchase orders, invoicing and returns is greatly reduced.

Better Enforcement of Buying Policies

  • Using Punchout re-ordering gives customers the ability to enforce their buying policies, obtain faster approvals on all orders and integrate catalogs with dozens of preferred suppliers.

Access to Negotiated Prices

  • Procurement managers and authorized users gain access to the negotiated bulk prices of preferred vendors right on the B2B company’s catalog pages or user interface.

Ability to Perform Multiple Business Tasks

  • An integrated procurement system enables customers and users to process integrated purchase orders, return products, get order confirmations, monitor shipping, send orders, receive invoices and access vendor bills.

Fully Integrated Catalogs

  • Multiple types of catalogs can be integrated into the system including punchout catalogs, hosted catalogs and internal catalogs, and authorization protocols can be set to meet any contract-compliance requirements.

Automated Status Reports

  • Buyers can be alerted early in the buying process when fulfillment issues arise, which reduces disputes, returns and delays.

Custom Content

  • Customers can access custom content using the punchout eCommerce system’s integrated website, including past invoices, orders and quotes.

Marketing Opportunities

  • Punchout catalogs enable expanded marketing and branding opportunities, and customers have access to almost limitless collateral content and information.

Competitive Advantages

  • Suppliers that offer seamless eProcurement benefits to their customers gain control of the entire procure-to-pay process and deliver B2B automation to their valued customers, which grows sales, lowers costs and drives higher customer-satisfaction rates.

 

Recent surveys show that eCommerce is evolving rapidly. About 46 percent of eCommerce C-suite executives say that more than half of their customers will be buying online in three years, and 69 percent of companies plan to stop printing paper catalogs within five years. [2] Only those companies that are willing to make ordering easy for their customers will enjoy a competitive advantage.

 

Integrating Internal Software Creates a Formidable System

Unfortunately, no matter how advanced the eCommerce Punchout software might be, there will probably be information delays and gaps after implementation unless all systems are fully integrated. Knowledge and experience are essential for integrating systems as well as handling the technical requirements of any software implementation. The right development partner can help any given company, train staff in best practices and make user-friendly applications available within the user interface. That’s why Clarity also has an in-house integration platform (Clarity Connect) that’s built with eCommerce business automation in mind.

 

When shopping for a solution, find a company, like Clarity, with a vigorous API layer (over 6,300 endpoints exposed) for making trouble-free, integrated connections. Find a marketplace provider that can integrate with solutions such as SAP, Oracle, Ariba, SciQuest, Unimarket, Oracle Punchout and many others.

 

An integrated B2B eCommerce re-ordering system can segregate customers based on their buying profiles, spending limits and ordering categories that are specific to each customer based on UNSPSC and NAICS codes. The user enjoys a fully integrated shopping experience with multiple payment options and the ability to invoice the order. A facilities manager can order soap, toilet tissue and paper towels, and a lab assistant can order beakers and pipettes. FOH restaurant managers can order table supplies, carryout condiments and other essentials. Built-in contract and spending limits prevent users from ordering unauthorized items and quantities, but users can employ all the research tools they need to finish their orders.

 

Clarity eCommerce provides six different out-of-the-box re-ordering capabilities within their platform, to provide an easy-to-use and expedited punchout experience, no matter the order.

 

Choosing a Development Partner to Integrate a B2B eCommerce Re-Ordering System

An integrated punchout eProcurement offers your customers the same excellent user experiences that your website visitors receive. Purchasing databases can interface seamlessly with other systems within your own user interfaces or customer applications, but you need an experienced development partner to ensure full integration of inventory control, accounting, shipping and customer-facing applications. Your B2B customers can manage their accounts with self-service, assign rights to authorized users, set spending limits and establish buying rules. Integration provides a premium user experience that encourages long-term business relationships and extreme customer loyalty. Give us a call and let us help you improve conversions with your customers through better re-ordering.

 

References:

[1] Essent.com: What is a PunchOut Catalog?

www.essent.com/What-is-a-PunchOut-Catalog.html

[2] Digitalcommerce360.com: Signs point up for B2B e‑commerce

www.digitalcommerce360.com/2013/11/21/signs-point-b2b-e-commerce/

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