The PunchOut protocol is the key to B2B ecommerce success. The protocol is designed to be compliant with the B2B purchasing process. B2B suppliers commonly use Ariba PunchOut catalogsolution to connect with their large customers. This is because big customers do not follow the traditional checkout methods of online shopping. Their approval process is different from the one followed by B2C customers. Also, unlike B2C customers, B2B customers use a specific software to conduct purchasing activities, which is commonly referred to as procurement system.
The procurement manager is assigned the task of completing the purchasing process. He acts as the point of contact between a business and its suppliers. Through this purchasing software, the manager logs into the supplier’s site. After the items have been selected, the manager however doesn’t have the authority to make the payments, unless he gets the shopping cart approved from the higher authority. This is where the PunchOut catalogcomes into picture.
A PunchOut user after adding items to the cart does not go through conventional checkout process. He clicks on ‘PunchOut your Order’ which causes the shopping cart to return back to the procurement system. From the procurement system, the shopping cart is then transmitted to the approver. So you see the PunchOut protocol is designed to fit into the approval workflow of B2B customers. Upon receiving cart approval from the concerned authority, a notification email is generated and sent to the supplier indicating that the order is confirmed. No wonder, it is rightly said that PunchOut catalog solutionprovides a customizable buyer experience.
As far as B2B suppliers are concerned, they too have different prices for different customers. The products are sold at a contract price which is not the same for every customer. This complicated pricing strategy can also be easily implemented using PunchOut.