Welcome to PunchOutCommerce.com! The goal of this site is to be a resource for buyers and suppliers looking to learn more about PunchOut commerce. This technology offers many benefits to both buyers and suppliers, but adoption has been slow due to a lack of understanding, innovation, and documentation. We plan to address these issues at PunchOutCommerce.com, with a focus on documentation of integration standards, tools for developers, industry news, and a directory of solution providers.
PunchOut commerce is a collection of standards that facilitate integration between suppliers eCommerce sites and their buyer’s eProcurement systems. PunchOut commerce technologies enable employees to purchase goods and services from suppliers, from within their organization’s eProcurement application.
PunchOut commerce appeals to buying organizations because it streamlines purchasing processes. Organizations can easily enforce approval workflows and track spend on purchases made in their eProcurement system. As cost-effective eProcurement solutions with cXML support gain market share, we expect the number of buyers with access to PunchOut commerce technologies to increase significantly.
PunchOut commerce presents a huge opportunity for suppliers to integrate directly into their customers' eProcurement applications. Suppliers with eCommerce sites that are integrated to an organization’s eProcurement system are more accessible to shoppers and tend to receive more orders. B2B commerce integrations should be viewed by suppliers as another channel for receiving orders, in addition to their eCommerce website and phone sales. Suppliers who ignore the importance of integration with their customers’ eProcurement systems will leave their buyers frustrated and possibly looking for another vendor.
As large retailers expand their B2B presence, they too are looking to integrate with their customers through PunchOut. Amazon recognized the potential of PunchOut commerce and in 2014 added support for PunchOut and cXML orders. Furthermore, Amazon became the first supplier to offer a self-service PunchOut setup process which significantly reduces the costs of adding Amazon to an eProcurement system – no emails/phone calls required.
Shopping from within an eProcurement system was initially accomplished by loading suppliers' catalogs into the eProcurement system. CSV is the most common file format used to exchange catalogs, despite its many shortcomings. A number of file formats have been developed to fix the problems with CSV files, but few have managed to gain traction. . In addition to these catalog file issues, importing catalogs is typically a manual practice in most eProcurement systems - automated imports are treated as custom integrations. The lack of adoption of standards and the manual effort required to maintain catalogs places a significant burden on both buyers and suppliers. It doesn’t have to be this way - Amazon has millions of sellers managing their own catalogs. In the late 90’s, PunchOut was introduced as an alternative to managing catalog files.
Following SAP’s acquisition of Ariba in 2012, SAP is now in control of the two dominant PunchOut technologies: cXML PunchOut and OCI RoundTrip. Usage of OCI RoundTrip continues to decline over time, as SAP was the last major eProcurement application to lack support for cXML. That leaves cXML as the de-facto standard for PunchOut catalogs.
The cXML standard also supports electronic orders and invoices, as do two EDI standards which compete with cXML: ASC X12 and EDITFACT. These EDI standards are significantly more complex than cXML, typically cost more to integrate, and do not address PunchOut catalogs. This leaves cXML as the most attractive B2B integration standard. However, there are still a number of problems that have not yet been addressed by cXML that were solved by other standards that competed with cXML at one time. We don’t need yet another standard, but we do need cXML to evolve.
The cXML user guide documents the official specification of the cXML standard. While the user guide is well-written and complete, it includes many document types and features that are rarely used in practice. At over 500 pages, the guide can be overwhelming for suppliers looking to add basic PunchOut/order functionality to their eCommerce site. Beyond the official cXML documentation, most of the information on cXML that’s available online comes from solution providers. This information tends to be focused on creating a sale for the solution provider rather than educating the buyers and suppliers. Comprehensive, yet manageable, documentation for cXML that remains objective has long been a gap that we hope to fill with this site.
Despite the challenges presented above, the future for PunchOut commerce is bright. Low-cost PunchOut eCommerce solutions, as well as, readily available PunchOut plugins for popular eCommerce applications have made PunchOut more affordable for suppliers than ever. Amazon’s adoption of PunchOut commerce has increased buyer demand for PunchOut and driven niche eProcurement companies to add PunchOut support to their applications. We’ve seen increased interest in PunchOut commerce from suppliers as they become aware of the potential of being fully integrated with their customers' eProcurement systems. Our hope is that by educating buyers and suppliers on what PunchOut commerce can do for them we can increase PunchOut commerce adoption by suppliers and their trading partners.