Glass and glass ceramics manufacturer Schott AG produces products for multiple industries: pharmaceuticals, healthcare, consumer electronics, energy and automotive, among others. In this Q&A article, Schott senior buyer Jackie Primus reveals how the Mainz, Germany-based company handles procurement for an organization with more than 17,000 employees in production and sales operations in 35 countries.
DC360: Tell us a little about Schott and your role there.
Primus: Schott is a specialty glass and glass ceramics manufacturer, and we serve a number of global industries including healthcare, consumer electronics, energy and automotive, to name a few. The company was founded in Germany, and today we’re a global corporation with production and sales units in 35 countries with more than 17,000 employees.
I’ve been with Schott for more than seventeen years and am based in Indiana. As a senior buyer, I’m in charge of buying operations in Indiana and Kentucky, while administrating much of our work with Amazon Business. Recently, Schott acquired a company called Applied Microarrays Inc. in Arizona, a manufacturer of DNA and protein biosensors, and other microarrays, and I have been working to integrate them with Schott’s policies, procedures and systems.
DC360: Please briefly describe your procurement operation.
Primus: Schott has been using Amazon Business for nearly five years. Amazon Business offers a wide variety of products from a diverse array of selling partners and allows us to streamline the procurement process, freeing up time to focus on larger capital expenses rather than products like pens, staplers or Post-It Notes. Each department has a procurement specialist that takes questions from employees and provides them with purchasing approvals, helping us keep track of spend without having to manage purchases through the larger purchasing department.
DC360: Does Schott use punchout software to link from procurement software to preferred suppliers’ online product catalogs?
Primus: For internal procurement operations, we use a punchout system with certain catalogs available to certain users. Each location has users set up as punchout buyers, which varies by site. I have 12 to 15 set up in Ohio, for instance. We use the system to procure everyday purchases such as industrial MRO items, office supplies or electrical supplies, rather than big-ticket items. Anything that we can send through this punchout system is advantageous to us. The system allows us to spend more purchasing time on tactical areas like cost savings, for example, rather than spending time on everyday orders of supplies.
DC360: When and why did you start using Amazon Business Punch-in?
Primus: Before using Punch-in, our procurement team was required to start the purchasing process in our own e-procurement system to remain compliant. Now, we can start our purchasing journey directly on Amazon Business and submit the cart to our e-procurement system, Onventis, for reconciliation. Although Punch-in is a new tool for us, Schott has used Amazon Business connected to Onventis for a while. Having this tool available for Applied Microarrays has been hugely helpful in onboarding and integrating them to Schott. They are a smaller location, so they were putting all their purchases on a credit card. Now, it’s a whole different buying experience for them.
Schott has a global, multi-level reach as far as purchasing. We have global category managers, so if we’re working on, for instance, safety supplies, we have global contacts that specialize in sourcing those items. And if I have trouble sourcing in the U.S., I can find global suppliers to help me locate that item. Punch-in allows us to improve compliance with our company’s buying policies, while helping our administrators across the globe keep more of their spend in one place.
DC360: How else is Punch-in different from traditional procurement systems?
Primus: For us, Punch-in gives our employees the ability to log right into Amazon Business. They don’t have to go to our Onventis system first, then get exported. They can go directly to Amazon Business, put items in their cart, go through checkout, and then it kicks them back to Onventis for approval. We aren’t losing the approval process, but we’re allowing our employees to take some steps out of the mix, which is more efficient and saves time.
DC360: What did you have to do to get set up with Amazon Business Punch-in?
Primus: Because we had already integrated Amazon Business with our Onventis system as a punchout catalog, the technical switch to Punch-in was no big effort. Our e-procurement specialists made all necessary settings together with experts from Amazon Business and Onventis up-front without any additional costs.
At the local level, the process was simple. We created training documents to show employees how they can log in and use the Punch-in system and distributed that to all users in North America. I got on the phone with Germany and Amazon Business, did a short test to make sure everything was working correctly, and by the next day, we had the training pushed out to all of our employees.
DC360: How well are your procurement employees responding to the Punch-in service?
Primus: Our employees don’t have to wait for an administrator to put their order in the system or wait for purchase approval ahead of time, which tends to slow things down. They can simply log in directly to Amazon Business, add their products to the cart, check out, and be done with the process. Legacy systems can slow down the process. With Punch-in, it’s instantaneous. Our employees love being able to log in and get the job done quickly.
DC360: Please describe any challenges or difficulties you had in setting up and using Punch-in.
Primus: We haven’t had any difficulties with implementing Amazon Business Punch-in to our Onventis system. The final integration test was more difficult compared to punchout solutions because administrators do not have users’ Amazon Business access data. In the final testing, we had to involve one end-user to place a real order, but that was hardly an issue.
DC360: What benefits are you realizing in purchasing and spend management?
Primus: On the purchasing side, the benefit is that we don’t have to approve smaller orders for employees when they need something — they can purchase the products themselves, while using the familiar features and functionality of Amazon Business. Through the Guided Buying tool, procurement managers can easily implement spend policies to maintain compliance, while search and filtration features help employees find the products they need.
Through the reporting feature, we can download and review all purchases and spend at our North American sites, and those business analytics help inform our purchasing strategy in the future. The Spend Visibility tool gives us more control over spend, informing budgeting decisions, and managing compliance with purchasing policies. Punch-in allows us to optimize time and cost savings rather than allocating time to locating the items we use every day.
Sign up for a complimentary subscription to Digital Commerce 360 B2B News, published 4x/week, covering technology and business trends in the growing B2B ecommerce industry. Contact editor Paul Demery at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @pdemery.
Follow us on LinkedIn and be the first to know when new Digital Commerce 360 B2B News content is published.Favorite