Within the field of supply chain management, procurement, and logistics work hand in hand to maintain the efficiency of the entire system. Procurement focuses on the acquisition of goods, while logistics deals with its transport and movement. As Inbound Logistics notes, it is becoming increasingly vital for procurement and logistics teams to work together closely.
One of the advancements that have been aiding companies to create a more reliable link between their procurement teams and logistics teams is the use of the PunchOut catalog or website. SAP Ariba, the company who has spearheaded the development of the technology, defines the PunchOut catalog as a system that allows for requisitioning of goods within the business’s own procurement software. PunchOut catalogs have changed the way procurement systems operated in the past and offer businesses a new way to develop requisitions and purchase orders that can be automatically updated within the company’s software.
PunchOut Catalogs vs. eCommerce
Already, many logistics professionals would be considering that a PunchOut catalog might just be a fancy name for an eCommerce website. This misconception undermines the advancements that PunchOut has brought to procurement as a whole. While both PunchOut and B2B eCommerce sites digitize the purchasing process, they approach the solution in different ways.
B2B eCommerce websites are designed to make purchasing easy for consumers. They can operate multiple custom catalogs and can even limit views to different consumers depending on their access level. These sites can offer various levels of service, and the final order may be assigned as a sales order (SO), a purchase order (PO) or a cash sale, depending on the needs of the client. Some of these sites were initially designed for b2C sales, so their systems may not be on par with what one would expect for a B2B eCommerce website. They are better suited to B2C companies that need to update their offerings as production changes.
Conversely, PunchOut catalogs are designed with procurement in mind. They also suit businesses that don’t need to change their item listings all that often. The flexibility that PunchOut offers comes from its ease of interfacing with procurement software suites. This simple interaction allows the software to import the catalogs of suppliers quickly into the software itself. With the inclusion of Commerce eXtensible Markup Language (cXML), businesses now have the opportunity to send data back to the website to complete purchase orders. These completed purchase orders can then be forwarded back to the company to update its procurement software and keep the entire supply chain system informed.
An Easier Process Than Ever Before
Online procurement systems that have opted for the PunchOut catalog have made life a lot easier for the procurement departments that deal with them. Through PunchOut, a procurement manager can log in to a supplier’s website, browse their catalog, make purchases, and complete the purchase order, all from the convenience of their own procurement software. With automatic updating through cXML, the procurement manager doesn’t even need to update his local records. The supplier’s website forwards a copy of the purchase order to the system, which reads and updates the order details immediately. Through this methodology, the company can realize more accurate reporting and faster approvals of purchase orders than ever before.
Suppliers are in the position of trying to make their systems more comfortable to deal with if they want to get and retain customers. A company that invests in the technological advances of PunchOut stands to gain a lot from its inclusion since it makes the entire purchasing system a lot easier. For a buyer, PunchOut changes how the company deals with acquisitions and automates the updating of records within the company’s procurement system. From a supply chain management perspective, this makes for a much more streamlined process for being aware of the state of a specific order. PunchOut catalogs haven’t just changed how companies think about procurement, but its effects reverberate throughout the supply chain system.
Samantha Wallace is a veteran tech writer and editor who has worked in several eCommerce companies. She has been covering technology online for over five years. She is the Content Advocate for Greenwingtechnology.com.