Frequent B2B Mistakes, Part 1: Catalog Management, Pricing

For 10 years I’ve consulted with B2B ecommerce businesses globally. I’ve assisted in the installation of new B2B websites, in optimizing existing B2B websites, and with continuing support for B2B websites.

This post is the first in a series where I tackle common mistakes of B2B ecommerce merchants. With this setup, I’ll review mistakes related to catalogue pricing, management, and user experience.

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B2B Mistakes: Catalog Management, Pricing

Product mismatch. A B2B website will sometimes not incorporate the goods from a customer contract. Other times the website includes the merchant’s full product catalogue rather than the chosen products the customer contracted . This mismatch results in much confusion because the client might select products which aren’t a part of the contract, or she can’t locate products that are in the contract.

Pricing mismatch. Product pricing is often not aligned with the contracted price. The most common mistake is to find the listing price on the website rather than the contracted price. This makes the purchase procedure more cumbersome as each transaction should experience a price adjustment before the order could be fulfilled.

Incorrect landing page from punchout. Many B2B sites encourage punchout in which a purchaser lands on the merchant’s website after choosing a product on his institution’s procurement website. Ideally, a punchout application will take the user to the chosen product’s page on the merchant website. But far too often punchout asks take users to the principal product catalog page. This forces the user to look for the product on the merchant’s website.

Retired products. It’s not uncommon for B2B merchants to retire goods. But often merchants don’t inform their customers. Consequently, customers continue to attempt and buy products which are no longer marketed, leading to more time spent in manual resolution.

Lack of cross-selling. When a buyer comes to a B2B website, it’s a chance for the merchant to recommend additional products by cross-selling or up-selling. Many merchants miss this chance by not revealing these recommendations.


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Outdated contracts. Some B2B contracts are for several years. But merchants’ products and pricing change regularly. Because of this, customers might see another set of goods or alternative pricing on the merchant’s website, leading to confusion.

Inconsistent customer experience. The perfect B2B experience is to customize the site based on client requirements. This could mean using colours and designs suggested by the client, including the client’s logo, and customizing the whole punchout experience. Many B2B sites don’t do any of this.

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Performance challenges. Punchout is a real time call from the client’s environment to a merchant’s website. It requires the merchant’s site to load quickly so clients can take products without flaws. But frequently, B2B punchout transactions run into performance challenges, leading to timed out transactions.

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Lack of cross-border localization. B2B websites are often accessed by international customers. It’s necessary to localize the expertise with the local language, date format, and money.

Security glitches. B2B websites can have several kinds of security. Sometimes it creates problems. Some sites require users to log in each time they get it. Some attempt to read from a cookie cutter and neglect the punchout transaction if the cookie doesn’t exist. And some provide complex, multiple roles and permissions, like allowing a user to add products only up to a certain price point. In my experience, the websites that have the fewest security glitches automatically log in the user at punchout and provide two roles: buyer and approver.

Essential Guide to Ecommerce Punchout

“Punchout” refers to the digital communication between a corporation’s internal procurement systems and its providers. Using punchout, a purchaser can get suppliers’ catalogs and then buy products seamlessly, within his inner infrastructure.

Thus B2B ecommerce merchants that ease punchout make the buying process easier for their clients. In this guide, I will discuss my experience with punchout, including what it is, how it functions, and how merchants can deploy it for achievement.

What’s a procurement system?

Procurement is a general name given to a lot of distinct systems that streamline the purchasing process, including the management of purchasing policies, spending controls, and stock levels.

There are 3 broad classes of e-procurement systems.

  • Conventional e-procurement performance within an enterprise resource planning system. A good example is the”Materials Management” module at the SAP ERP system.
  • Add-on e-procurement that’s been bought and attached to an ERP system to expand its capabilities. Adding SAP’s”Supplier Relationship Management” to its ERP platform is a good example.
  • Cloud-based e-procurement services could be integrated with most ERP systems. Some even have their own market of providers that have uploaded catalogs to create sourcing new things easier for buyers. Cases of cloud-based procurement services are SAP’s Ariba Network and Coupa eProcurement.

What’s a punchout?

A punchout sets your online shop inside your client’s e-procurement system. By way of instance, if your client uses an ERP system, such as SAP, to handle purchases, the client’s employees could access and store your online shop without leaving the SAP platform. There are many advantages to being incorporated into your customers’ e-procurement systems. I will address them later in this report.

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How can punchout work?

After a B2B ecommerce website has punchout integration using a purchaser’s e-procurement system, these steps will occur when the buyer places an order.

  1. User logs into her e-procurement system and selects your business as the vendor to place an order with.
  1. Your ecommerce shop will (typically) appear within a window from the consumer’s e-procurement system. The consumer will have the complete shopping experience your site offers. She could search, browse categories, see product content, and add things to her cart. The only difference to the consumer is that rather than checking out, she’ll click a button to move the items from the cart for her e-procurement system.
  1. Following the items are moved , the consumer will place a buy order in her regular procedure.

What are the typical kinds of punchout?

  • Catalog interchange format documents aren’t technically punchouts. However they come up regularly in punchout conversations. CIFs are no more than the upload of product information to an e-procurement system. The information is static, meaning that adding to or changing it requires manual work. I rarely suggest this choice and resort to it only when clients demand it. CIF is one of those standardized document formats for these kind catalogs.
  • cXML, OCI punchout. Commerce eXtensible Markup Language” and”Open Catalog Interface” will be the two criteria for communicating between ecommerce platforms and e-procurement systems. CXML is the most commonly used standard outside of SAP, which uses OCI.
  • Level Two punchout. This procedure combines your ecommerce website with a catalog file that offers the identical information as CIF. Supplying this extra file to buyers’ e-procurement systems means that they can get your punchout site in two ways. First, a buyer selects your business as a vendor and stores on your site via the punchout. Secondly, a buyer searches for and locate things directly in his e-procurement system and then clicks to chalk out into the corresponding product page on your site.

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Who uses punchout?

B2B providers, particularly medium-to-large ones, probably use or intend to use punchout. Roughly half of B2B companies, allegedly, use an e-procurement system and 33 percent have plans to implement one. If your B2B customers utilize an e-procurement system, you should discuss punchout together. Larger B2B suppliers like Staples, CDW, Amazon Business, and Grainger ease punchout.

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How can punchout assist my organization?

  • Punchout is fast becoming a necessity for B2B businesses. Punchout is often a necessity in RFPs for medium-to-large purchases. It’s crucial that B2B ecommerce merchants offer it.
  • Punchout enhances the consumer experience for your clients. E-procurement systems normally do not offer the best user experience for browsing, searching, and accessing product info. Punchout overcomes these challenges by providing users access to your site. Punchout also streamlines the procure-to-pay procedure by enabling all steps in the procedure to be finished within their e-procurement system.
  • Punchout helps gain exposure with new users within a single client account.
  • Punchout contributes to more sales with existing clients and provides the abilities to attract new clients of any size.

How can my company get started with punchout?

  • Find out if your clients could benefit from punchout. Can they currently use or intend to utilize an e-procurement system? Are you currently using punchout with different vendors?
  • Be sure to have the ideal technology to construct and encourage punchout as a revenue channel. Option one is to utilize your existing ecommerce platform. Enterprise-level ecommerce offerings frequently implement and encourage punchout. The second option may be a third-party punchout support. It can connect your ecommerce platform and your clients’ e-procurement system. In my experience, these third-party providers operate with virtually all platforms and systems.
  • Teach your sales staff on the advantages of punchout and invite them to make it a normal part of the dialog. Explain to your team why buyers are making the change to e-procurement over conventional procedures of purchasing. As soon as your team appears to understand punchout, have them explain it to you.
  • Make offering punchout to clients a necessity for the sales staff. If a staff member is not comfortable pitching it in detail, then encourage him to start the conversation. Then bring in somebody who’s better positioned to pitch it. Invite the staff to”sell up,” to locate the decision maker that could approve a punchout integration. In my experience, that decision may involve a number of people at multiple levels.

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