Frequently Asked Questions
What's "Punchout" (aka cXML Punchout, Procurement Punchout, OCI Roundtrip)?
A B2B industry standard protocol that enables secure online shopping and ordering between a seller’s e-commerce web store (Magento, Woo, Opencart, Shopify, Oro Commerce, Prestashop, etc.) and buying organization’s e-procurement system (Coupa, SAP Ariba, SAP SRM, Oracle, Jaggaer/SciQuest, Birchstreet, iValua, etc.) The Punchout specification was first published in 1998.
Why is my customer (the buying organization) asking for Punchout?
Your customer is using, or planning to use, an e-procurement system (Coupa, SAP Ariba, SAP SRM, Oracle, Jaggaer/SciQuest, Birchstreet, iValua, etc.) to order online from suppliers. Supplier onboarding is a key part of the e-procurement system implementation process, and is typically done in groups, starting with the highest volume suppliers (20% of suppliers, 80% of spend), and then working downward toward tail spend suppliers (80% of suppliers, 20% of spend.) It’s done this way because e-procurement ROI (Return on Investment) is based on maximizing the number of orders processed by the e-procurement system – in other words, they want ALL of their suppliers onboarded into the e-procurement systems ASAP!
How long will it take my customer to have “Punchout” capability in his end?
Why can’t they just use my current online web store?
Unlike the normal online ordering process, the e-procurement system ordering process requires pre-approval of the shopping cart prior to the placing the order – that’s where Punchout comes in. Click here to see an infographic that shows the difference between the two processes.
What are the benefits of having Punchout capability?
Among the benefits of having Punchout capability in your online web store are increased brand exposure to customers, lower order processing costs, a reduction in errors and exceptions, improved customer intelligence, and tighter integration to customer systems and processes. Very quickly, all of the above add up to increased overall customer satisfaction.
Can Punchout increase my sales?
Yes. Using Punchout, your web store is now accessible right from your customer’s e-procurement system desktop – you’re basically just a click away from their users. This is important because using the e-procurement system to place orders is typically a mandate within buying organizations. By being Punchout-ready, you’ve also made it easier, and also compliant, for them to order from you than your competitors who don’t have Punchout capability.
What about new sales?
Punchout capability adds one more effective tool to your sales team’s toolbox. Large, global 2000-type companies are the biggest users of e-procurement systems. If you plan to sell to them, you’ll need to be Punchout-capable. Not convinced? Click here to see an infographic showing how one well known e-commerce company’s sales increased 10X in the two years after they made their web store Punchout-capable (hint – the company’s name starts with an “A”.)
What happens if I ignore my customer’s request to provide Punchout capability?
Again, using the e-procurement system is typically a mandate within the buying organization because the ROI (Return om Investment) is based on maximizing the number of orders processed by the e-procurement system. If you don’t comply, your orders can’t be processed by the e-procurement system, and they may have no choice to find another supplier that has Punchout capability, or as shown previously, order what then need from Amazon Business. The simple truth is they’re not going to spend millions on an e-procurement system, and then make an exception for you.
Can I expect more requests from customers to provide Punchout capability in the future?
Yes, there’s no doubt about it. Buying organizations started digitizing their businesses in the late 1990’s when the first generation of e-procurement systems hit the market. According to The Hackett Group, e-procurement system usage will triple by 2021. Now is the time to act, or possibly get left behind.
My customer specifically asked for cXML Punchout – is there more than one version of Punchout?
Yes. There are different iterations of the XML Punchout standard. The most widely used iteration is cXML Punchout (www.cxml.org), which is supported by most, if not all, e-procurement and ERP systems. Another common iteration, OCI Roundtrip, is specific to the SAP SRM e-procurement applications and derivative systems based in SAP SRM. Some e-procurement applications support both, but cXML Punchout is considered more robust and easier to support, so is often the choice when both are available.
Note also that e-procurement system vendors each have their own sub-versions of each iteration. For example, Ariba’s sub-version of cXML Punchout, though similar, is not the same as Coupa’s sub-version, which is different than Birchstreet’s, and Oracle’s, and so on.
Lastly, because of the outstanding flexibility built into the XML Punchout standard, it can be customized (field sizes, extrinsics, document sets, network security rules, etc.) by a buying organization to suit their specific business needs, so Ariba cXML Punchout for Customer A will be slightly different than an Ariba cXML Punchout for Customer B.
My customer asked for Level 2 Punchout – what’s that?
In a Level ll Punchout implementation (OCI5 in the SAP SRM world), the user shops his e-procurement system’s built-in e-catalog (versus initially Punching Out to shop your web store), and when he/she finds what’s needed, Punches Out directly to the item details page in your web store. After that, the process is the same as regular Punchout. Level 2 and OCI5 are not widely used due to the amount of extra work and expense required by both the buyer and supplier to create, test and maintain the search index in the e-procurement system.
My customer also told me to join his e-procurement vendor’s supplier network - why?
Some e-procurement vendors (Ariba, Coupa to name two) route all Punchout requests through their Supplier Network. It typically takes a few minutes to register and has little impact on your Punchout implementation.
Ok, I’m in, how can I get Punchout capability built into my web store?
If you have a fully operating web store today, you can build it yourself – but this can be technically challenging, time consuming, resource intensive – and expensive, especially if your IT department, Agency or Service Provider has no prior experience with Punchout. Anybody who has implemented Punchout themselves will tell you that it’s a lot harder to actually deliver than it looks on paper!
Its faster, better and much less expensive to engage a Punchout Solutions Vendor, whom on a daily basis implement Punchout across a myriad of e-commerce platforms, e-procurement and ERP systems and supplier networks, and have proven, reliable technology platforms. Punchout Solutions Vendor offerings are typically Cloud-based, and fall into two categories:
- Punchout Plugin: If your web store is stable and has B2B functionality like customer groups and commodity codes, a Plugin-based solution makes it Punchout-capable with any e-procurement system
The benefit of a Plugin-based solution is that it leverages the investment you’ve already made in e-commerce, and all your customers, whether they are accessing your store via Punchout or directly, have the same user experience, branding experience, and its controlled by you!
- Punchout-ready Web Store: If you don’t have a web store, or your current web store is unstable, or lacks B2B functionality, a Punchout-ready Web Store that can also support web orders gets your business Punchout-capable quickly.
The benefit of a Punchout-ready Web store is speed and simplicity. If you don’t have a web store today, but have requests for Punchout coming in from customers, in most cases you could be up and running in weeks using a Punchout-ready web store.
Also note than many B2B sellers start with a Punchout-ready Web Store while implementing their multi-channel e-commerce platform; then convert to a Plugin-based solution once it’s in place.
Is there any downside to implementing Punchout?
No. The benefits speak for themselves. Punchout should never be considered an incremental business cost, but a key part of a multi-channel selling strategy. Punchout is an investment in your company’s future, just like new cutting-edge machinery, or a super-efficient distribution center.
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