We Create Solutions for Buyers & Suppliers Via Punchout Catalogs

Punchout Catalogs create a secure, easy, simplified and centralized purchasing experience with your customers e-procurement system and your product catalogs

What is a punchout catalog?

Punchout catalog diagram

PunchOut Catalogs are a tool with which your electronic procurement system allows your buyers to access your suppliers’ websites directly from their own purchasing applications.

That is where the term “PunchOut” comes from.

Your customers “punch out” from your eProcurement system, and enter your supplier’s web-based catalog.

This integration of your procurement application and your vendor’s catalog happens over OCI or cXML standards.

The first step in the PunchOut process is the creation of a shopping cart in your catalog.

This cart can then be transferred to an external system – typically your vendor’s – so that the PunchOut process can be completed.

The integration of these systems allows users to select items on an external system and transfer the item to your platform for: accounting assignment, approval, or any other additional step necessary.

If approved, the shopping cart is then converted into a purchase order and sent back to your procurement application.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are eProcurement systems?

An eProcurement application is a web system that businesses use for electronic purchases.

It is a system that provides valuable insights on a company’s spending and how contracts and vendors are managed. This makes it easier for those overseeing the company’s purchases to match orders with invoices and vendors.

This is particularly important given the fact procurement officers are often tasked with eliminating off-contract spending, also known as “maverick” spending.

As a means of reducing these maverick purchases, companies often require their employees to only make purchases through their procurement applications.

A typical procurement system allows staff members within a company to search online vendor catalogs and order items from multiple vendors.

The way this all works is rather simple.

The employee adds whatever product the person is interested in purchasing unto a shopping cart, and then submits a purchase request through the eProcurement system.

That request is routed to whoever is in charge of approving purchases in the company, who then decides if the request is approved or not.

If the order is given the green light, an electronic purchase order is created by the eProcurement system. That order is sent electronically to the vendor who then fulfills the order.

There are two main types of vendor catalogs for eProcurement systems:

  • Hosted (CIF) Catalogs: With a hosted catalog, you essentially get a flat file(s) that holds key information about your products and services. Your customers then load these files into their internal eProcurement applications when making a purchase.
  • PunchOut Catalogs: These are essentially external websites that your customers can access from their eProcurement applications. PunchOut solutions also have the ability to auto-create new users by using the information contained in the PunchOut request.

What are the major differences between Hosted and PunchOut Catalogs?

Hosted Catalogs and PunchOut Catalogs are created to serve a similar purpose.

Both make it possible for companies to share vendor catalogs electronically with their customers via an eProcurement system.

What differentiates these two systems is their very different approach to fulfilling this purpose, giving each system its unique set of strengths and weaknesses.

Also known as Catalog Interchange Format (CIF) Catalogs or Line Item Catalogs, Hosted Catalogs are static product lists that provide only the essential information that is needed to order goods.

This information is then uploaded into the buyer’s eProcurement application. Users in the buying company can then use the information to search and shop from all the vendors in that particular marketplace who use Hosted Catalogs.

To make this all work, a vendor using a Hosted Catalog has to dedicate resources to compile all the data uploaded into the catalog.

The vendor also has to constantly update the data and upload each file into the buyer’s procurement application.

The buying organization then has to approve the catalog before it becomes available to users within the organization.

That means if a supplier comes out with a new product, the supplying organization would then have to gather all the important information about the product, change it into the appropriate format, then upload it into the each buyer’s purchasing system for approval before the buying organization’s customers are able to order the new products.

That is obviously a very complicated process.
Given the information above, it is not surprising PunchOut Catalogs are the preferred solution in modern B2B environments with both buyers and suppliers.

A PunchOut Catalog allows suppliers to market and present their products in real-time, dynamic formats. That means buyers are able to make purchases as soon as new products are launched.

PunchOut Catalog vs Hosted Catalogs Pros and Cons

Punchout Pros

  • Suppliers are in charge of managing content and product information.
  • Products and prices can be changed in real-time
  • Easier to list new products.
  • Suppliers are free to configure products as they please.
  • Eliminates the need to create multiple catalog files.
  • Ability to promote and upsell items.

Punchout Cons

  • Level II PunchOut Catalog needed to make products searchable within a select marketplace.
  • There is no uniform buyer experience.

Hosted Catalog Pros

  • Buyers can purchase from multiple suppliers right from their eProcurement System.
  • The experience never changes for buyers, making it easier.

Hosted Cons

  • Price and product listings are static.
  • New items are not available until supplier loads a new catalog.
  • Approval from buyers needed for catalogs and updates.
  • Catalogs must be tailor-made for each buyer’s eProcurement system.
  • Works best with basic products and services.
  • Product searches are not as effective.
  • For the most part, only simple products and services can be ordered.

How long have PunchOut been around?

They were founded in 1999 during the early days of PunchOut technology. The first 10 years were spent integrating other systems with PunchOut solutions.

In 2009, PunchOut Catalogs started providing their own platform. That has made it possible for thousands of vendors to connect with their buyers more efficiently.

Why every business needs a PunchOut Catalog?

Regardless of the size of your buying business, it is only logical to look for more efficient ways to track your company’s expenditures, so that a larger portion of your spending is streamlined to preferred vendors who provide more value.

A PunchOut Catalog will give you more control over your purchases, which in turn leads to lower costs and more useable solutions for your customers and employees. Nowadays, it is not uncommon for buying organizations to insist that suppliers they do business with provide PunchOut capable catalogs.

If you run into a potential client that requires you to have PunchOut Catalogs, your two options are:

  1. Build a system that has PunchOut capability yourself, or modify your existing e-commerce site to allow it to support PunchOut standards.
  2. Subscribe to a proven PunchOut solution that meets all of your customer’s expectations and technical requirements.

What type of procurement systems can be integrated with PunchOut solutions?

PunchOut Catalogs can be merged with any buying application that supports OCI RoundTrip or cXML PunchOut.

cXML is a standard that was established by Ariba, and most eProcurement solutions followed suit with the exception of SAP.

On the other hand, OCI has a lot in common with cXML, but its standards are not as high. It is used mostly by SAP systems.

What are different ways of running PunchOut solutions?

There are two ways to go about setting up your PunchOut solution. You can opt for PunchOut Express which means PunchOut Catalog will host your solution at their data centers.

We will be responsible for the security, maintenance, and upgrades of your PunchOut solutions.

Your other option would be to go with PunchOut Connect.

This means your PunchOut solution will be created and installed on your present e-commerce solution on Magneto 1 or 2. With this option, you are free to host the solution wherever you feel is best.

Can I get Oracle, Ariba or SAP to help me develop a PunchOut Catalog?

Not at the moment. Ariba does not offer any direct solutions for suppliers.

They do provide consultation services on such issues, but they not actually help you with the technical development of solutions.

Oracle and SAP do offer extremely large solutions for suppliers, but those tend to be very expensive.

If you are not currently using SAP or Oracle for your ERP, it is simply not a cost-effective solution.

Can I get Oracle, Ariba or SAP to help me develop a PunchOut Catalog?

Not at the moment. Ariba does not offer any direct solutions for suppliers.

They do provide consultation services on such issues, but they not actually help you with the technical development of solutions.

Oracle and SAP do offer extremely large solutions for suppliers, but those tend to be very expensive.

If you are not currently using SAP or Oracle for your ERP, it is simply not a cost-effective solution.

Other benefits of having a PunchOut Catalog

As a supplier, there are many benefits your business will enjoy when you have PunchOut capability.

These include:


  • Providing a straightforward and capable purchasing system for your clients.
  • Having the ability to easily cross-sell and/or upsell additional services and products.
  • Being able to conduct business with large companies and corporations that often only do business with PunchOut capable suppliers.
  • Gaining valuable information on actions performed by customers on your website like search patterns and browsing history.

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