As a B2B supplier, your sales and order processes are possibly one of the most important aspects of day-to-day operations. Your customers want an efficient, effective service that makes their procurement operations as smooth and intuitive as possible. This desire for simple processes is more important than ever before now that we are firmly in the grasp of a digital-first era. It’s no longer just a suggestion to simplify business processes, it’s an expectation, and one that customers (especially in the B2B sector) place highly on their list of priorities when engaging with their suppliers.
Making efficiency and simplicity your top consideration
As a B2B supplier, your sales process is one of the most vital aspects of your business. Gone are the days of endless phone calls, faxes, mountains of paperwork to keep track of every order. These days, the key to building successful relationships is to deliver a positive experience with your customers. Making your operations more efficient and straightforward is a perfect way to do this. A streamlined way for your customers to buy from you not only provides a generally positive experience, but it instils trust and loyalty in your brand from the businesses who buy from you. This in turn has a dramatic effect on long-term B2B relationships, which as you’re already aware, is a powerful ingredient when it comes to B2B success…
Improving efficiency with punch-out portals and integration
Chances are, you might have heard of punch-out portals and catalogues already. But if you haven’t, here’s a quick rundown to get you up to speed before we start telling you how they can have a significant impact on your B2B sales processes:
What is a punch-out portal/catalogue?
A punch-out system (or punch-out catalogue/website/portal) is an efficient, effective and engaging way for buyers to access a supplier’s inventory and web services through their own procurement application.
It essentially works in the same way as an ecommerce website, but it has the unique ability to communicate with procurement systems (such as Coupa, Proactis, and Parabalis) and ERP systems such as SAP, Sage and Microsoft Dynamics, and many more including bespoke solutions.
These procurement systems are a vital aspect of countless businesses, and a Punch-Out website can work seamlessly within these systems to significantly streamline the entire buying process.
Punch-out systems essentially enable your customers to make full use of your ecommerce offering from within their own procurement systems, providing a dramatic improvement to operational flow on both sides of the buying process. The connectivity of the system is where the magic happens – due to the integrated nature of a punch-out system/website/catalogue, buyers can utilise their procurement software features whilst making purchases, and you as the supplier are able to integrate and automate all of your necessary ecommerce features such as pricing, stock availability, product specifications and content (including visual assets such as photographs and videos), and much more.
How a punch-out portal can benefit your business
Punch-out systems boast a wealth of advantageous features that can transform the way you supply your customers with the products they need and want. We’ve already spoken about their ability to streamline processes, but that’s a very basic explanation of the benefits, and probably a bit of an understatement…
· Your punch-out system integrates with the in-house systems of your business customers
Imagine your punch-out portal as an extension or alternate version of your ecommerce website, only it can communicate directly with your customers’ procurement systems. This communication works with all popular procurement solutions, including Coupa, Proactis, Parabilis and more. It also has the capability to communicate with back-office ERP systems such as SAP, Sage, and Microsoft Dynamics. They can even work seamlessly with bespoke procurement systems, making them extremely adaptable to the many different systems your customers may use.
· You can display your website/sales portal directly to your customers with ease
With the integration we discussed above, your solution can display each and every important detail of your business and your products directly within the systems your customers are using. This includes all on-page content such as sales copy and any visuals, as well as specifications, order details, and so much more. Everything your customers need to make a purchase decision is right there, all easily accessible within their own systems.
· You have full control over pricing, with the ability to display account-specific pricing without manual interference
Pricing can often be a complex characteristic of any buying process. You may have different customers with different accounts depending on their status with you. A punch-out portal can be setup to display the correct pricing to each of your customers, entirely independently, all without the need to make manual changes or adjustments, and it’s all done in real time.
· You give your customers a seamless one-click shopping experience
One-click shopping experiences are no longer restricted to the B2C sector. B2B customers in every industry are rapidly growing to expect these seamless, intuitive shopping experiences in all aspects of their purchasing process. A punch-out portal allows you to give them exactly what they want. Customers can order quickly and easily, and you can process orders with dramatically improved efficiency on your side.
· You can personalise the shopping experience of your customers for maximum relevancy and sales potential
Personalisation is paramount to delivering powerful, relevant, and positive shopping experiences. Punch-out portals allow you to make personalised recommendations to customers through your marketing collateral, tailored up-sells/cross-sells, distinctive branding, and so much more.
· You can show up-to-date stock levels in real time to prevent unnecessary and lengthy communication chains
Nobody likes the lengthy communication processes of trying to determine whether stock is available to order, particularly in a B2B setting. A punch-out portal can accurately display the stock levels of your products without having to rely on manual in-person checks and a handful of phone calls or emails. Everything is easy to view and process with minimal human interference.
· You can take advantage of dramatic cost savings, and pass those savings onto your customers too
Essentially, a punch-out portal enables you as a business to sell significantly more stock. The streamline purchasing process means customers are more likely to order more frequently, whilst the increased efficiency of being able to browse a catalogue or personalised content and products within their own systems makes up-selling and promotional activity much more effective and engaging.
How PureNet can help to create the perfect punch-out solution for you…
We’re proud to have worked with some of the biggest brands across the country for the past 11 years to design, build, and launch effective punch-out systems that have transformed the way these organisations operate. A wide variety of our B2B clients, including Tata Steel, Mitie, Amcor, E.ON, Park Dean, and many others, have all discovered the power and flexibility that a punch-out system can provide for their business.
We’ve worked with these brands to create the ideal system for their needs, providing in-depth consultancy to ensure that the punch-out portal is built around their precise specifications and requirements. Following on from the consultancy, we developed and integrated the solution to work flawlessly with their back-office system. The design and development phase places even more emphasis on meeting the needs of the businesses we work with, and we always make sure that we prioritise quality and functionality of every aspect of the solutions we build.
If you’d like to discover how a punch-out system can transform your business, get in touch with us today.