Many companies today require that an order go through their own purchasing system and then a so-called punchout solution can be a way to simplify purchasing for this type of customer. Punchout is a technology that enables purchasing systems to collaborate with e-commerce stores.
A punchout solution means that the customer starts in their purchasing system and from there clicks on to the e-commerce page where they will buy their goods. The customer puts the products in their shopping cart just as usual, but when the order is executed, the customer does not pay in the online store, instead the order is automatically sent back to the purchasing system. In the purchasing system, the customer's normal purchasing process takes over and the order is completed there as usual.
The right range with current prices and promotions
The advantages of providing a punchout, compared to uploading the product range to the customer's purchasing system are many. Among other things, you do not have to update the catalog in the purchasing system, as long as the right products are available in the e-commerce store, the customers sees what they should see, with current prices.
With a punchout solution, you can via your own e-commerce give the customer a better user experience and work more with personalization of both products, campaigns and prices. There is also the possibility to show more information about the products than in a purchasing system. Accessories or other products that fit together are often information that you already have on the e-commerce site that can be automatically displayed to the customer.
Some systems lack a good search function and the ability to filter and group, something that an e-commerce site can visualize in a good way. The supplier has full control over how the products are presented to the buyer. There are endless possibilities with pictures, video, descriptions, manuals, variants, combinations and which products should have extra visibility compared to just uploading the products to the purchasing system.
Standard for communication between e-commerce and the purchasing system
There are different standards for punchout solutions where the most common are OCI and cXML. The standard describes how the purchasing system and e-commerce communicate with each other.
OCI (Open Catalog Interface) is a standard that SAP has developed that is most used by their solutions. cXML (Commerce eXtensible Markup Language) is the second major standard that many of the non-SAP systems have implemented.
If you are going to compare the different standards, they solve the same problems with the same mindset, but the data that is sent is a little different so you will have to implement them in a little different way. Some purchasing systems also have slightly different technical requirements for how e-commerce is set up for them to be able to communicate with it, but this is something that can be discussed with the respective purchasing system supplier.
Implementing a punchout solution
When implementing a punchout solution for your online store, you must first find out which punchout standard the customers use in their purchasing systems.
During a development project, the standard or standards needed to be able to provide a punchout are implemented. Once you have a punchout standard in place, you have support for integration with several purchasing systems (and customers) that use that standard. After that, just get the customers to join and set up a punchout for the customer in the purchasing system and e-commerce solution.
Explain the benefits of the solution to your customers and ask them to test to see how flexible and user-friendly the system is. It is likely that customers will buy more through your e-commerce and that the relationship and cooperation will be strengthened.
Contact us to hear more about the punchout solutions we have built together with our customers.