For the billions of dollars in annual transactions on Amazon Business, many of them are processed when buyers use punch-out software to connect to the marketplace from their company’s procurement and spend management software.
Now, businesses can give their buyers the option to go straight to Amazon Business to make a purchase and “punch in” to their company’s procure-to-pay (P2P) spend management software to maintain records of their purchasing activity.
Amazon launched yesterday Amazon Business Punch-in, an online tool designed to let companies manage their buyers’ spending even when they don’t start a purchase through their e-procurement software system. Amazon introduced the Punch-in product yesterday with procurement technology vendor Compleat Software. Amazon says it is already adding “new partners” yet to be named.
“This new feature will simplify the buying process for many of our customers,” says Todd Heimes, global director of Amazon Business. “For those companies with buyers who enjoy the familiar user interface and functionality of Amazon Business, Punch-in will enable them to start their journey on our website while remaining within their organization’s buying policy guidelines.”
The Punch-in product was designed in part to take the place of corporate purchasing cards, including P-cards and commercial cards, which typically have built-in controls on how much buyers can spend for approved products from approved suppliers.
Amazon Business and Compleat did not publicly mention the cost to deploy the Punch-in product.
Duncan Jones, a vice president and principal analyst covering procurement technology at Forrester Research Inc., says Amazon’s Punch-in should be an attractive option to many but not all corporate procurement departments and chief procurement officers. “This is a good option for Amazon Business to offer … but most CPOs will want more direct control via their procurement tool of what users buy on Amazon Business instead of from suppliers [CPOs] have chosen and the contracts they’ve negotiated,” he says.
A stronger option for CPOs, he adds, is when procurement systems are integrated with multiple ecommerce sites and online marketplaces so that, when a buyer makes a pending purchase, the procurement systems shows comparable products available from other sellers to let the buyer and their superior choose the best option. “In the punch-in mode, the user never gets to compare Amazon Business’s suggestions with what is available from other vendors,” Jones says.
Amazon doesn’t break out its B2B portal’s sales, but it has said that does more than $25 billion annually, and Wall Street analysts forecast far more growth for it ahead.
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