Avalon Health Care reaps benefits from updating and automating its procurement process.

Updated business-to-business e-commerce software is making it easier for Salt Lake City-based Avalon Health Care to send purchase orders to vendors regardless of vendors’ technology preferences, says Hyrum Kirton, vice president of alliance services and procurement. With 55 health care facilities in several western states, Avalon is one of several detailed case studies in the newly published 2015 Guide to B2B E-Commerce.

Under Avalon’s old procurement system, Avalon had to maintain two systems: one for vendors who wanted to exchange documents electronically and another for those who wanted to exchange paper documents. But with e-procurement software from Coupa Software, Kirton says, Avalon can arrange through a single software administrative page to send purchase orders via multiple electronic methods, including online XML transactions, e-mail and electronic data interchange, or manually send paper documents.

In yet another method of interacting with suppliers, Avalon can use the Coupa procurement software to let its buyers “punch out” to the e-commerce site operated by an approved vendor, which lets buyers browse product pages rich with images and descriptions instead of the comparatively basic listings in procurement software. When clicking to purchase a product on a vendor’s e-commerce site through the punch-out feature, the transaction is automatically sent back to the Coupa procurement system for approvals from the designated managers and executives.

Coupa provides the software under a software-as-a-service model, in which Avalon pays a monthly subscription fee to access the software through the Internet; there is no charge to its suppliers to use the system. By comparison, Avalon’s former procurement software vendor charged fees based on a percentage of transaction value to both Avalon and its suppliers. Although Kirton declines to comment on the cost of the Coupa subscription, he says Avalon’s suppliers have passed on to Avalon their savings from not having to pay transaction fees.

Kirton says it took about three months to set up the Coupa software to start a pilot project with a vendor, then another three months to get the system operating for most of Avalon’s 6,000 suppliers. “It’s not economically sound to train all vendors on the accounts payable system, such as those who only invoice us a couple of times a year,” he says. “We’re always adding vendors but there’s no need to train them to use the system if it’s a one-time purchase.” About 70% of Avalon’s vendors have access to the system, he says.


Without saying what Avalon spent on set-up costs, Kirton  notes it generally costs from $80,000 to $120,000 to deploy the Coupa procurement software.

Order the first-ever 2015 Guide to B2B E-Commerce today.

Sign up for a free subscription to B2BecNews, a weekly newsletter that covers technology and business trends in the growing B2B e-commerce industry. B2BecNews is published by Vertical Web Media LLC, which also publishes the monthly trade magazine Internet Retailer.