Introduction to SAP Ariba PunchOut
SAP Ariba PunchOut gives you a way to leverage your existing e-commerce investment by enabling customers with procurement systems to use your website as a catalog. With PunchOut, you maintain a single online catalog that all your customers can access, eliminating the need to create separate CIF (catalog interchange format) catalogs that you upload for each customer.
How can PunchOut catalogs benefit your business?
PunchOut catalogs provide a wide array of advantages over paper or CIF catalogs, including:
- Exceptional ease of use. The more your customers make personal purchases on consumer websites, the more they want the same user-friendly experience for business procurement. With PunchOut, that’s exactly what they get. By providing a PunchOut catalog, you make business purchasing faster and easier—increasing the likelihood that they’ll buy from you.
- Built-in marketing and branding consistency. PunchOut catalogs let you take advantage of the marketing already built into your website to promote your products and services. This means customers experience the same navigation flow, color palette, and marketing style that make your site unique, reinforcing your brand in the market.
- Personalization for each customer account. With PunchOut, you gain the flexibility to customize which items and services are visible to each client, enabling you to better meet their needs and requirements. You can also adjust pricing in accordance with specific customer agreements.
- Automatic updates and up-selling opportunities. The ability to automate price changes and show accurate, real-time availability of what you sell is another PunchOut advantage. You can also cross-sell and up-sell by displaying items often purchased in conjunction with products a user is buying or listing items viewed during previous PunchOut sessions.
Is PunchOut right for your company?
While PunchOut can be effective for any supplier, it’s especially valuable in the following circumstances:
- If you offer a large number of products. PunchOut is far more efficient than CIF if you sell office supplies, MRO products, or any other category that involves hundreds or thousands of items. While CIF requires you to manually update every item within your spreadsheet application or product database and then upload each catalog file individually, PunchOut lets you handle these tasks in one place—through your website. This saves you significant time and money and makes it far easier to keep your catalog up to date.
- If you sell services. Negotiating terms and prices for services typically requires lengthy information exchanges between buyers and suppliers. With PunchOut, you can use your Web forms to collect much of this data, helping you see early on whether your capabilities match what the customer needs and supply a more accurate quote faster.
- If your products or services are configurable. PunchOut makes it easy for your customers to configure products online, reducing or eliminating the need for manual paperwork and in-person exchanges. If you sell printing, marketing materials, build-to-order equipment, or other products with many options and characteristics, this can save huge amounts of time for you and your customers.
- If your products require extensive documentation. PunchOut enables you to provide self-service capabilities to customers by giving them access to product documentation, reviews, or decision-support material on your website. This lets them research potential purchases thoroughly before they buy, saving time for your sales team and reducing the likelihood of mistakes and returns.
Drive better PunchOut results
Whether you’re just launching PunchOut or have used it for years, these best practices will optimize your results.
- Line up resources before you start. If you already have an e-commerce website, use it; this lets you capitalize on your existing branding and process flow, which your customers are already familiar with. Then assess whether you have the in-house expertise to implement PunchOut, keep your website updated, and handle new integrations, or if you should outsource these tasks.
- Keep navigation simple. Set up navigation to minimize opportunities to exit your site. Suppliers sometimes make the mistake of giving users too many places to go, resulting in lost sales when customers wander off to other sites or activities. Instead, offer just two options: “Cancel Shopping” and “Checkout.” Be sure to hide fields on your site that are already built into the customer’s procurement application, such as user IDs and passwords, shipping and payment, cost centers, and approvals. (You should also avoid having a “Buy” button, since the actual purchase does not occur during the PunchOut session.)
- Set aside testing time. Thoroughly test your catalog internally and with your customer to ensure everything works right before go-live. Ariba® Network provides a PunchOut test application you can use to complete this essential step.
- Develop a customer guide for your site. Creating a well-organized, user-friendly online guide is a great way to introduce your PunchOut site to prospects and customers. It can also save significant amounts of time you’d otherwise spend answering questions. Include high-level information about how your site works, the network topology, security measures you employ, whether you monitor user sessions, times the site is unavailable due to planned maintenance, and similar topics. Update your guide whenever changes occur.
- Aim for back-office integration. Though you may wish to start off with a simple PunchOut catalog that provides basic functionality, fully integrating it with your back-office systems will maximize the value your catalog delivers. For example:
- Tying your ERP systems or product database directly to your PunchOut catalog enables you to automate changes in pricing and product availability.
- Integrating with your sales forecasting and marketing systems gives you greater visibility into customer shopping patterns, providing valuable data you can use to hone your strategies and practices.
Where can I learn more?
To get additional information about PunchOut catalogs, take any of the steps listed below.
- Watch the “What Is PunchOut?” tutorial available by logging into your Ariba Network account, clicking Documentation at the bottom of the Help Center sidebar, then clicking the appropriate titles under Tutorials