The world of eCommerce continues to grow and change at a rapid pace. We can even argue that it changes each second, as new companies pop-up and the marketplace expands exponentially. As eCommerce continues to expand, certain – and sometimes common – practices become outdated, a relic of former industry standards. One of these is the lazy, annoying use of PunchOut for procurement practices.
Downsides of Punchout
For those unfamiliar, PunchOut sites are used for supplier procurement. Either a supplier or a third party (this is the most common) will have a very basic, plain site set up. The site will host a list of products, pricing, vendors, etc. Buyers – which are usually other businesses – will have login info and (potentially) negotiated prices for products. Assigning products to the cart is very limited, as checkout will redirect visitors to the vendor page to complete checkout.
“So, what’s the issue?” Well, as you may guess, there are several unnecessary steps in this process on both sides. First, let’s dive into the buyer side of things. Let’s say that Steve needs 20 of Item X and 30 of Item Y. Items X and Y are from different vendors. This will ultimately create two different checkout processes, which is redundant. Also, moving from the PunchOut site to the vendor site can be confusing, and drastically bring down customer engagement. From a visual standpoint, most PunchOut sites are unimpressive. “But if he gets what he needs, then who cares how it looks?” Yeah, well, looks matter. This draws in newer businesses/customers and can help drive brand loyalty.
Now, let’s examine the downsides from the other end of the spectrum. For example, let’s say you are running a site, that houses several products from multiple vendors. Your reports are spread out by vendor, as well as sales. This is simply a low-tech, needlessly complicated process. The cookie-cutter, bland pages will not be doing you any favors, as it lacks rooms for improvement or innovation (not to mention, people want to see a pretty site!). And, simply put, this is a lazy, lackluster way to conduct procurement.
Switch to a Better Platform
Some will argue that the PunchOut process has several benefits. Now, many bosses will have employees buy the necessary items. Before a purchase it made, however, the boss will need to approve the transaction. PunchOuts are usually able to hold a purchase, for this reason. Magento is currently working on a solution to this, and, to be really fair, it’s not difficult to create a system in M2 to fulfill these needs.
Others will argue that Magento offers PunchOut integration. Why fully migrate to Magento, when you can use the basic structure? While true, the platform offers a better setup for PunchOut, the pitfalls still remain. And here’s the serious question: Why limit the capabilities of your site, and in turn, your business?
“Yeah, yeah, but why would I want to build a full site? What’s the point, if it ends up working the exact same way?” First, and foremost, building a full, working site will allow for a better appearance (hey, I said aesthetics matter!). But beyond the good looks, there’s a wealth of benefits, particularly if you are using the Magento 2 platform. Instead of dealing with the limits of a PunchOut, your B2B customers can create wishlists, re-order products based off previous orders, and save payment methods. The customer experience alone will see a vast improvement. And, with the M2 platform, custom reports are available. Oh, and the biggest benefit? Customers need not worry about an off-site redirect for checkout, while their frustrations grow. They will go through checkout on your site, vendors/manufacturers will be notified, and life will go on.
Instead of relying on the outdated and frustrating PunchOut system, build a site, fill pages will a robust catalog, and sell products. Stop relying on an annoying PunchOut site and make something that clients will actually want to use. B2B doesn’t need to stay in the dark ages, while the rest of the eCommerce world continues to gravitate toward innovation. Take advantage of Magento’s full capabilities, and leave PunchOut in the past.