An important benefit of punchout categories is that buyers can only create and manage their shopping basket within the frame and according to a workflow established by their corporate e-procurement solution.
Rather than shopping on the sellers eCommerce website, which can be complex to track, the buyer is “punched out” to relevant catalogues by the purchasing system and works with them directly from that system.
When the buyer is finished selecting items from the catalogue, the system converts the final shopping basket into a requisition, which is then submitted for approvals by the management.
Some other core benefits for buyers using punchout catalogues include a simplified buying experience, direct access to personalised pricing, automated document flow, the consolidation of multiple catalogues from different sellers and faster, more transparent procurement processes.
Punchout catalogues are a critical step in the B2B eCommerce appropriation for customers wanting to acquire or partner with large clients and government organisations.
With that being said, punchout catalogues are no full substitute for B2B eCommerce websites. They both operate together to ensure your company meets the needs of different types of customers.
Why PunchOut catalogues are Important for Sellers
Just as you would expect, there is an increased demand for large businesses and government bodies to simplify the way they purchase with simple purchasing processes that are quick and straightforward. They rely on e-procurement systems from companies to manage the entire purchase cycle.
For B2B models today, buyers also demand access to eCommerce capabilities offered by B2B sellers. Buyers are looking for eCommerce sellers that have an eCommerce website that they can directly connect with their e-procurement systems. Punchout catalogues is arguably the best way to make this possible.
Being punchout-ready is one of the key requirements for moving upmarket and expanding your marketing opportunities.
Punchout technology enables sellers to optimise their operations and eliminate tedious tasks of importing catalogues into a buyer’s e-procurement system. Once the buyer-seller interchange is in place via punchout catalogues, these catalogues, products and prices can easily and rapidly be updated automatically.
The Great B2B eCommerce Websites Boom
Punchout catalogues have been specifically designated for larger B2B buyers who rely heavily on their e-procurement systems. At the same time, B2B eCommerce websites are designed to streamline the buying process for all types of buyers and sellers.
Essentially, a B2B eCommerce website replicates standard B2C eCommerce capabilities that everyone is accustomed to but also takes those capabilities to a whole new level.
B2B transactions are much more complex than B2C transactions, as they correspond to how companies carry out business with their B2B clients. You will need to be able to offer personalised catalogues and pricing for each client online. You need different levels of access depending on the customer representative’s buying role – can they only submit an RFQ (request for quotation) or actually place a purchase order?
Payment terms (such as net 30 or net 60) also feature a wider range of options compared to B2C. Finally, there is more flexible marketing automation, content management, analytics, and customer relationship management that B2B eCommerce solutions provide to discover and appropriate the unique opportunities with each B2B client.
Over the past few years, B2B eCommerce technology has grown exponentially to become a mainstream solution for sellers. As a result, B2B online sales have skyrocketed; numerous surveys confirm that B2B eCommerce implementation is currently one of the key priorities for B2B companies.
Should your company focus entirely on B2B eCommerce or put punchout catalogues into order first?
B2B eCommerce Websites vs Punchout Catalogues
Both punchout catalogues and B2B eCommerce websites are valuable in the way how they digitise the buying/selling process. With that being said, to understand your priorities, you need to consider their differences.
Punchout catalogues were designed to cater to the needs of the largest B2B customers. However, this technology has certain limitations that pose some inconveniences for a seller. When a buyer comes to a website through a punchout catalogue, they don’t make a purchase; they make a requisition. It still must be converted to a purchase order and approved.
Moreover, while thousands of companies use punchouts, there isn’t one true standard. Companies must decide which customers to support with punchout catalogues, based not only on their purchasing requirements but their choice of e-procurement systems as well. It’s important to note that there are also fewer tracking, self-service, and marketing automation capabilities for punchout catalogues compared to a full-blown B2B eCommerce website.
A B2B eCommerce website is ready to serve large and small companies alike. If your B2B eCommerce website offers custom catalogues and supports multiple levels of user access roles, you actually enable buyers to manage their spend without an e-procurement system or punchout catalogues. A robust B2B eCommerce website combines all the benefits of a content management system (CMS) with a customer relationship management (CRM) system and provides checkout workflows tailored to the buyer’s needs.
Should You Offer B2b Ecommerce Websites or Punchout Catalogues?
While at its core, B2B commerce still relies heavily on relationships with other businesses. It is increasingly necessary to provide self-service buying capabilities and take advantage of every sales tool possible. Current B2B buyers demand an ecosystem that is focused on making their buying experience as easy and efficient as they are accustomed to when shopping online for their personal needs.
Given the rapidly rising popularity of B2B eCommerce, they shouldn’t be your only digital offering. Just as product brochures don’t replace sales representatives, punchout catalogues can’t replace full-scale B2B eCommerce websites.
If you’re looking for the balance of catering to businesses of all sizes, a B2B eCommerce website is key. It should start with robust CMS capabilities, corporate account and access management, and the ability to create as many custom catalogues and price lists as you need. It should provide a checkout workflow that meets your customer needs and support required payment terms and payment providers integrations.
Choosing a B2B eCommerce platform that allows for integration with punchout catalogues will give you the best of both worlds, and really is a match made in heaven.
As a leading B2B eCommerce platform, OroCommerce offers an extension for punchout catalogues and enables you to seamlessly connect them with your buyers’ e-procurement systems. OroCommerce covers all bases to give you the best of both worlds.