Getting a Punchout Catalog: A Supplier's Journey
The supplier’s journey to getting a punchout catalog often it comes as a “good news/bad news” call from a customer or potential customer.
Customer: “Yeah, hey, we’d love to do business with you, but our vendors are required to set up a punchout catalog to connect to our ePro system.”
Seller: “OK, but what’s a punchout?”
Customer: “I’m not really up to speed on all the technical details, I just know it connects you to our system so we can buy from you there. Google it, I’m sure you’ll figure it out. Let me know when you’ve got it sorted out so we can place Enormous Order #1 with your company. Talk soon! Bye!”
Seller: “OK. Bye.” You hope you sounded like you know what to do. You know all about your products, selling them, and how to provide amazing customer service. But integrating an ecommerce site into an eprocurement system? Not so much.
Now you’re sure about your very next step (searching for punchout catalogs on Google) but beyond that? It’s even more perplexing when you start your search. Googling turns up all kinds of arcane B2B e-commerce terms: cXML, hosted catalogs, Level 2. What does any of that even mean? How do you figure out what you really need, let alone what punchout company to choose?
The most important thing to understand is this: do your homework. Don’t settle for what looks like a quick fix or solutions that may seem the simplest. Many punchout solutions promise to be selling superhighways but turn out to be time-sucking and resource-draining dead-ends.
Punchout catalogs and integrations are not one-size-fits-all. Requirements for punchout catalogs vary from one buying organization to the next. Just like you, they have preferences and specific business needs that need to be addressed. For this reason, the ability to provide useful, intuitive punchout catalogs with the innate flexibility to adjust to the buyer’s specific needs is key to your success.
The lack of detail early in the process can really bite you if you aren’t working with a punchout provider that understands the ins and outs of punchout integration and can deliver the flexibility needed to meet your client’s needs. This is your business and your customer. Make sure that the punchout catalog solution you choose comes from an experienced punchout provider who has seen it all. You’ll know by the questions they ask you.
Then, when you call your customer back, you will know what you’re talking about and can confidently say that you are getting a punchout catalog, the implementation is proceeding smoothly, and when you’ll be ready for them to place Enormous Order #1 (of many).
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