Punch-Out, Punch-In and Plug-In: What’s the Difference and Why Should I Care?
September 14, 2023

We’ve all been there, restlessly tossing and turning at night when suddenly it comes to you: you forgot to pick up that really important thing for the office tomorrow. A quick foggy-eyed scan through your phone, click a few buttons, and bam- order placed and you can finally relax.

It’s hard to remember a life before online shopping. Its popularity highlighted the inefficiencies of shopping in a physical store; it can be time-consuming, hard to know you’re always getting the best price, and a gambling game knowing whether what you need will actually be in stock.

Online buying has answered the prayers of many, solving these nagging issues and allowing us to shop for anything, anywhere, anytime.

So everyone lives happily ever after… right?

There’s just one problem. While online shopping for your holiday wardrobe or new kitchen gadgets is a breeze, buying online for businesses can be a complicated process and a headache for finance.

The conventional online buying model is a nightmare for the finance department. Orders are totally uncontrolled and disconnected, flying in with no warning.

Each order needs to be manually combed through to decide who bought it, which GL code needs assigning, before sending off for approval from department heads. And then there’s the hours spent raking through expense claims- not to mention the risk of fraud.

Surely the convenient online shopping experience we all know and love should work just the same in the office, too?

A Compleat solution

Well, that’s just what we thought, and after some serious head-scratching, the geniuses from the Compleat team came up with Integrated Online Buying. Taa-daa!

The goal of Integrated Online Buying is simple: life is easier for everyone when you buy directly from your supplier’s website.

We found huge chunks of wasted time throughout the traditional buying process within many businesses, both inside and outside of the finance department. Using integrated Online Buying can result in productivity gains of up to 95%– certainly not to be sniffed at. But how?

To Punch-Out, Punch-In or Plug-In, that is the question…

Our Integrated Online Buying solution is based around three different integration types: Punch-Out, Punch-In and Plug-In (try saying that three times).

But what makes them different, what do they do and how could they benefit your business?

Let’s start with Punch-Out. Those of you with a tech background may know this one as a ‘CXML integration’, but for the rest of us, allow me to translate.

The Punch-Out process would see you opening your iCompleat system before heading over to your favourite supplier’s website and filling up your basket with whatever it is you’re shopping for. But here’s the difference- instead of completing your order through the supplier, all the details are sent back into iCompleat where the system takes care of the rest, automatically sending to department heads for approval and creating a digital order.

Punch-In is a similar story, except we collaborated with Amazon Business on this one to create an even more simplified process. With this one, there’s no need to log into iCompleat before shopping with Amazon Business; the system recognises you’re a Compleat user and passes the information across automatically. It’s a small difference, but we found that reducing any type of friction dramatically drives user adoption.

Finally comes everyone’s favourite little cousin, Plug-In. Compleat has an expansive and ever-growing library of supplier website integrations, from giants like Office Depot, Staples and Screwfix, to your local e-Florist. As long as they have a cart function, Plug-In lets you connect to any online supplier, no matter their size. After the request is approved, the user is automatically directed back to the supplier’s website within Compleat to checkout. Easy peasy!

Who wins?

Whether you’re using Punch-Out, Punch-In or Plug-In, Integrated Online Buying is a win for every business.

The buyer (whether a teacher, builder or office worker) benefits from having the freedom to buy what they need, when they need it, from any device- much easier than filling out an expense report or trying to hunt through stacks of receipts.

Whoever is approving the purchase, whether it be a department head or CFO, can relax knowing there is total visibility and control over all orders before they’re placed, so no nasty surprises will be landing on their desk. Approval workflow email notifications make sure you never neglect an invoice, reducing the chance of things going missing and suppliers getting grumpy.

Finance can *finally* breathe a sigh of relief with real-time visibility over purchases against budgets, and spend time on more important jobs thanks to the automation of invoice capture, matching, GL coding and approval workflows.

Overall, the business benefits from saving staff time, consolidating suppliers for better pricing, and 100% visibility to keep everyone in the know and avoid any human-error slip-ups. Who wins? Everyone wins.

Sounds good?

Book a demo and see Integrated Online Buying in action

Summarise the benefits for me