Coupa’s Open Buy Solution with Amazon Business is a Game-Changer for Unified Catalog Management and Real Guided Buying [PRO]

Electronic catalogs are a pain in the ass. Twenty years ago, early e-procurement implementations were always dragged down by the work required to build electronic catalogs. And things haven’t changed that much. The problem is that you force suppliers to publish (i.e., replicate) catalog content to their buyers’ various system or to electronic marketplaces — unless you use supplier-hosted catalogs that you “punch out” to. This is nearly always implemented as a Level 1 punch out, where the poor buying employee has to click on various supplier icons to get to the right websites where their buying experiences are controlled by the seller (i.e., “guided selling”) rather than the chief procurement officer (CPO) preferred metaphor of guided buying.

The next level of sophistication is a Level 2 punch out, where supplier catalog content sits next to internally curated corporate catalog items before a punch out occurs when the right item is found. The problem, however, is that a supplier still has to syndicate (replicate) all of the content that a CPO wants to expose to corporate employees. And it’s even worse because the type of catalog items in question are broad assortments of infrequently ordered items that make up tail spend. Are you really going to get someone like Amazon Business to syndicate content from hundreds of millions of items to your buy-side catalog? No. Also, the number of suppliers that support Level 2 punch out is extremely low (perhaps fewer than 100 suppliers globally), which is not surprising given that they have to syndicate massive catalogs to multiple channels. Syndication/replication is not a great long-term answer for anyone when an API can be built to serve up the content on demand.

Speaking of Amazon, Coupa has worked with Amazon Business to develop a Coupa solution called Open Buy. The offering changes the paradigm to allow “guided buying” through a more unified experience that actually implements Level 2 punch outs properly in a way that’s palatable to the CPO, employees and the supplier (i.e., Amazon Business doesn’t currently support the existing Level 2 punch out scheme — and we don’t blame them). In this Spend Matters PRO brief, we’ll examine how Coupa Open Buy works, how it’s different and some strategic implications for the market.

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