Finance | Capital Efficiency

From PunchOut Technology to Modern e-Commerce Marketplaces: How Shopping for Lab Supplies Has Transformed for Today’s Consumer

The History of PunchOut eProcurement Software and Rise of E-commerce Marketplaces.

In 1999, when the first PunchOut ordering system was introduced to the public it was heralded as innovative digital procurement technology. The buzz around this new eProcurement software was fueled by the idea that purchasers could access individual suppliers’ PunchOut-enabled e-commerce websites, browse the catalog and add items to the order, then submit the cart as a pending purchase order (PO) which could then be submitted to the procurement system.

Using PunchOut, niche retailers, similar to the experience of shopping online at a store like Williams Sonoma, could finally give their customers the ability to access their product catalog around-the-clock and automate their manual processes through use of purchase orders and invoices. Although it had its moment in the spotlight at the turn of the century, PunchOut is no longer the most efficient method of eProcurement.

This shift is due in large part to how much more informed and experienced the modern consumer is than their previous counterparts. Today’s consumer is largely comprised of millennial B2B purchasers with decades of e-commerce experience behind them. These millennial-led procurement teams not only expect an independent research process, but oftentimes look for easy-to-use interfaces, independently reviewed products, and the ability to easily compare products and vendors. Today’s procurement team for lab supplies expects to be able to see what items are available and how quickly they can receive them. With increased scrutiny of every phase in the R&D and lab experiment process, the need to compare before purchase is at an all time high across the board.

As PunchOut catalogs and PunchOut vendors faded out, eProcurement took the main stage. If you find yourself wondering, “What is e-procurement?” Don’t worry, you’re not alone. An Electronic Procurement System is the purchase and sales of supplies, equipment, or services through a web interface or other networked system with limited supplier management.  Following e-procurement, digital procurement came on the scene. Digital procurement includes additional analytics, automation, and data-driven optimization to help procurement teams stay as efficient as possible.

Benefits of an E-commerce Marketplace for Lab Supply Procurement

In the lab supply procurement industry, PunchOut technology is rarely seen anymore due to its inability to adapt to the needs of the modern consumer. On top of being outdated software that lacks integration, PunchOut technology is time consuming and manual with limited access to marketplaces and products. The bottom line is, PunchOut technology is not intuitive enough for today’s buyer and the requirement of multiple apps and interfaces has turned consumers away from PunchOut technology and toward e-commerce marketplaces.

For everything PunchOut software lacks, e-commerce Marketplace makes up for in technological leaps and bounds. By offering product comparison, product availability, and products specs e-commerce marketplaces save you hours of time during your lab supply product searches. It also gives you the ability to quickly adapt, change out a product that’s not available, and ultimately save money and complete research faster. Think about the experience shopping at a niche store like Williams Sonoma compared to Amazon. Amazon gives you a searchable catalog, offers multiple suppliers, and gives more insight into the procurement process.

Don’t just take our word for it, Ryan Chappell, the operations manager at Platelet BioGenesis, agrees that when it comes to e-commerce marketplaces, adaptability is everything:

We needed something that would grow with us because we often don’t know what our company’s going to look like six months from now. (...) And we needed a platform that would allow us to change things constantly, and ZAGENO [a lab supply e-commerce marketplace] has. That adaptability is probably the main driving force for why it’s been so helpful and why we’re still using it every day to this day.

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