What is PunchOut and how does it Work?

Blog post   •   Oct 05, 2016 11:00 EDT

As a VAR, if you are looking for a way to simplify your purchasing process with B2B buyers, then PunchOut solution should be your choice. A B2B buyer such as a large company often uses a purchasing software (e-procurement system) to buy products from its vendor or supplier. PunchOut mechanism refers to a set of protocols that enables the buyer to access the supplier’s website without actually logging onto his website. Upon entering the supplier’s website, the buyer will search and buy products from a specific catalog, commonly referred to as a PunchOut catalog. The products selected are then added to the shopping cart. The contents of the cart are then transferred to the buyer’s e-procurement system without checking out from the supplier’s site.

In a PunchOut environment, the supplier provides a link in the buyer’s e-procurement system. Upon clicking or ‘punching out’ the link the buyer automatically logs into the supplier’s website, allowing him to search and select from his catalog

In a PunchOut, purchase orders do not go to the supplier when the buyer checks out from the supplier’s site. On the contrary, the shopping cart that contains the selected items returns to the e-procurement system. The selected items are then added to a purchase order (PO). Once the PO receives approval from the management, it is sent to the supplier. With minimum manual intervention, the buyer can process the purchase orders. All this helps to speed up the ordering process and enhance productivity.

Using a PunchOut catalog solution, the buyer despite accessing an external catalog from a remote site does all his shopping without leaving his e-procurement system. The PunchOut process is sometimes referred to as Roundtrip since shopping begins at the e-procurement system and the items chosen from the supplier’s website are taken back to the e-procurement system.

This interaction between the two applications is done through cXML, a widely-adopted protocol for consistent communication. The data transfer is in cXML messages that support exchange of information. So any updates in supplier’s catalog such as product pricing, availability and current discounts can be accessed by the buyer in real time from his e-procurement system.

In simple words, cXML allows dynamic exchange of data between applications. The buyers always view the latest information available in the supplier’s website. cXML is particularly useful when the catalog to be accessed changes frequently. You will find that e-procurement systems such as Oracle iProcurement, SAP, Ariba, Coupa, and Peoplesoft used by large corporates all support cXML.

PunchOut functionality is considered to be the most efficient purchasing process, hence opting for an affordable PunchOut catalog solutioncan work wonders to improve your organization’s efficiency. It will make your B2B buyers feel extra special as you can customize PunchOut catalog as per their choice, thereby giving a personalized shopping experience.