As businesses and operating models grow and evolve, managing purchasing processes can become increasingly complex. How can you gain oversight and control over purchasing processes and spending, while managing the vendors your team purchases from? One solution to simplifying this process is to implement an eProcurement system that enables PunchOut catalog integration.
In this article, we’ll cover everything a finance or purchasing professional needs to know about a PunchOut system and its benefits to a company.
What is PunchOut?
PunchOut is a term that defines integrated access to a vendor's eCommerce catalog directly from an eProcurement application. A PunchOut catalog enables software users to "punch out" from their eProcurement system and browse and shop directly from an approved vendor's online catalog and complete the purchasing process in the eProcurement system.
How PunchOut works
Let's explore how a PunchOut system works. When an employee (buyer) looking to purchase business goods logs in to the eProcurement system, they can select and gain direct access to a PunchOut catalog and browse items from that vendor's catalog. This could range from a single PunchOut catalog to a range of integrated strategic vendor catalogs. These could include Amazon Business and Staples, or industry-specific vendors such as ThermoFischer Scientific or McKesson (Healthcare and Biotechnology) for example, the options are endless. With PunchOut catalog integrations, business leaders can manage which vendors their staff purchase day-to-day goods from.
The buyer can browse and select the items they need to purchase and add them to their shopping cart - an easy and familiar eCommerce shopping experience. After submitting the items for approval, the integration goes to work, instantly transferring the selected items and listing them in a purchase request in the eProcurement system. Within seconds, the user is redirected to the eProcurement system.
Purchase request and approval
The buyer can now submit the itemized purchase request for approval, including a relevant tax rate and currency. The request is routed through a pre-defined workflow configured in the eProcurement system. These workflows can include policy compliance checks, budget availability review, and single or escalating multi-level approval workflows.
Purchase order automation
Once the request is approved, the eProcurement system automatically generates a purchase order, and auto-emails it directly to the vendor for fulfillment using a company-branded purchase order template.
The order is billed by the vendor according to the payment method configured in the business account.
The vendor fulfills and ships the order using their established infrastructure, providing fast, efficient delivery.
Once delivered, items can be electronically received in the eProcurement system and invoices can be matched to the purchase order, ensuring accuracy, and preventing the risk of overpayment, or paying for goods not received.
In recent years, PunchOut systems have transformed the way businesses approach procurement and purchasing. PunchOut catalogs have helped companies balance purchasing efficiency and control by providing an automated and streamlined way for employees to easily purchase products directly from approved vendors, while business leaders maintain visibility and spend control via internal purchasing policies and procedures, configured in the eProcurement system.
Let's explore the benefits of implementing a PunchOut system.
Ease of use and a streamlined procurement process are key benefits that drive user adoption. By integrating a vendor's catalog directly into the eProcurement system, it eliminates the need for manual product data entry and reduces errors in the ordering process. Additionally, the online catalogs are managed by vendors, with no need for employees to self-manage or upload product catalogs manually. Buyers have access to up-to-date pricing and stock levels when purchasing goods.
The purchasing process is further simplified for buyers, as they can access multiple suppliers' catalogs through a single interface, making it easier to compare products and prices, this combined with the automation of the purchase requisition-to-PO process significantly reduces the time and administration required to manage the purchasing process, allowing employees to focus on more pressing or strategic tasks.
Another benefit is that PunchOut catalog software helps with adherence to purchasing policies. It allows businesses to set up custom workflows and approval processes, ensuring that purchases are authorized by the appropriate managers and that all necessary documentation is recorded, accessible, and auditable. Processes are automated and tracked, promoting accountable spending behavior. System-configured internal policies ensure that purchases occur with approved vendors and in compliance with company purchasing policies.
Improved spend control
PunchOut catalog software can help businesses save money and reduce the risk of overspending. By streamlining the procurement process, it can reduce the time and resources required to manage purchasing, which can lead to time and cost savings. Moreover, by granting buyers access to multiple vendors in one central place, it can assist businesses in accessing the most competitive prices for the products they require.
Ensuring that your team purchases from approved vendors is also centrally controlled, giving you access to more favorable terms and discounts. The budget review capabilities in the approval process help managers proactively manage their department’s spending and make informed decisions that keep spending on track, and on budget.
PunchOut catalogs provide increased transparency across purchasing processes. Users have real-time visibility into the status of orders, making it easier to track the progress of purchases throughout the transaction’s lifecycle. Buyer and approver activities are also tracked with date and time stamps and accessible for auditing purposes.
Improved vendor relationships
PunchOut catalogs improve vendor relations. By integrating strategic vendor PunchOut catalogs, employee spend is directed to approved vendors. With visibility into purchases, products, and pricing, business leaders can direct more business to high-performing vendors that offer the best value. This can lead to volume discounts and eligibility for business-only pricing.
Spend visibility and analytics
Analyzing PunchOut spend via an eProcurement system’s analytics and reporting tools can provide valuable insights into purchasing behavior. Analyzing PunchOut data can help identify cost savings and process improvements. Key metrics to track include the percentage of overall spend through PunchOut catalogs, which PunchOut vendors users are purchasing from, and the items they are purchasing. Insights gained from analysis can be used to encourage users to utilize PunchOut catalogs, negotiate better pricing with vendors, and consolidate orders to achieve better pricing. Overall, PunchOut spend analysis can provide valuable insights to improve procurement processes and reduce costs.
Transform your purchasing process with eProcurement and PunchOut catalog software
In conclusion, eProcurement with PunchOut catalogs are effective systems for businesses that want to streamline and simplify their procurement processes and reduce operational costs. These software solutions provide a centralized platform for easier procurement management and enable vendor selection and authorization, purchasing and approval automation, receiving and invoice matching with end-to-end visibility.
By leveraging eProcurement and PunchOut catalog software, businesses can increase efficiency, proactively manage spend, reduce costs, and gain valuable insights into their purchasing behavior, to identify opportunities to save and improve efficiency.
Looking for an eProcurement solution, with PunchOut capabilities and embedded spend analytics? Fraxion can help! The user-friendly eProcurement system provides complete purchasing efficiency, spend management, visibility, and analytics. Furthermore, Fraxion now offers PunchIn, an efficiency enhancement to the Amazon Business PunchOut process.
Get in touch to discuss your purchasing needs or book a demo to see eProcurement and PunchOut efficiency in action.
Watch the PunchOut explainer video below.