Online shopping has not only revolutionised B2C business models but B2B business models as well. A large multinational company does not go from one place to another knocking at every door in case they need hundreds of office desks. To cater to this vast business, several firms used their websites as the face of their companies.

However, the purchasing processes of each company differed from market to market and were drastically different from the conventional online shopper. The companies needed a steady supply of materials which meant they had to regularly go through the hassle of ordering goods from various websites. This was not only time consuming but also an exhausting experience. Since each company offers a different experience on their online site, it made up for a rather inconvenient choice for a buyer to keep using different sites for different goods.

This is when e-procurement systems started gathering steam for their efficiency and time-saving process. These e-procurement systems enabled the buyer to make purchases from a variety of suppliers by punching out to the client’s catalog of products. The buyer could now make purchases on a single platform which was more systematic and offered an enhanced experience. This also increased the efficiency of the buyer by streamlining the purchasing process.

Large Organisations were the first ones to incorporate the Punchout Catalog protocol while a lot of mid-level companies are joining pretty soon. It is only a matter of time till it becomes an industry standard and we strongly recommend joining the bandwagon as early as possible. If you are a supplier that has been looking to expand the business with a new customer base, then e-procurement systems could open you to new opportunities in life.

Initially, only the CIF (Catalog Interchange Format) Catalogs were available to businesses. Deploying these catalogs was primarily a manual process which made it harder to keep records of products, inventories and pricing details. However, things considerably changed once the Punchout Catalogs were introduced. It made it easier for the buyers to search for products and allowed the suppliers to market their products better.

Punchout 2 Catalogs take things a notch higher and improve on the Punchout 1 System. This system is widely incorporated into major e-commerce platforms which aim to enhance the user experience of their customers.

Major differences between Punchout 1 and Punchout 2 Catalogs:

Punchout Level 1 vs Punchout Level 2

Ease Of Use

Since the hosted catalogs (CIF) required manual interference to upload product data like name, description, and pricing onto the customer’s e-procurement system, it remained to be quite a work to do. Making real-time changes to this data wasn’t possible, and hence details like pricing were always static. The Punchout 1 system, however, was a revolution, to say the least. It gave the users better information about the product along with multiple images so they could make a better-informed buying decision. The users could punch out to the supplier’s punch-out website and look for the products with real-time information.   

However, ideally, a buyer would like to have both the options. This is where Punchout 2 Catalogs come in. It enables the supplier to generate a CIF and designate a web address to the location of the product which is then communicated to the buyer through the e-procurement system. The real-time changes made to the product description and pricing are also reflected in the main catalog which also makes it easier to keep a record of inventories. It is also possible to know what products were bought using the standard method and what were ordered through the punch-out websites.

Search capability

This is hands down the most significant difference between Punchout 1 and Punchout 2 Catalogs. The Punchout 1 Catalogs might have been revolutionary at the time, but they were far from perfect. They allowed the users to search within the punch-out catalog sites and make an informed buying decision. However, the experience remained mostly cumbersome. The user had to make a search in each punch-out catalog site independently to look for a specific product. This was ineffective and made the user experience immensely annoying.

Punchout Level 2 Catalogs were an improvement over the conventional Punchout Catalogs. Here the search capabilities were incorporated into the e-procurement level itself which eliminated the need to make searches in different punchout catalogs differently. The user experience was drastically improved as they were now able to shop online without any hassle. Also, the punchout styles on different catalogs were hard to navigate through for most users which contributed to the inconvenience. With Punchout Level 2 Integration, this too went out the window since the user interface was uniform for all catalogs.  

Now the users could make product level as well as category level searches without having to look for exact information on the products. For instance, only a few people come online to shop for a specific product and search for something like ‘Fossil Blue Chronograph Wrist Watch.’ People will generally come looking for ‘Chronograph Watches’, ‘Men’s Accessories,’ or even ‘Fossil Products.’ Punchout Level 2 Catalogs make it possible for the product to show up in each of these searches depending on the subcategories. This gives users the option to search for a broader range of products which increases the variety that they can choose from.

Time Effectiveness

As we mentioned earlier, the Punchout Level 2 Catalog makes it easier to search for required products which eliminates the need to look for it in different punchout catalogs. The user can search on the e-procurement level which initiates a search on all available catalogs and the results are displayed together. This means the user need not perform a search on different punch-out catalog sites, thus saving a lot of crucial time.

The more time it takes, the more cumbersome the customers are going to feel at your portal. If the experience of shopping at your website does not outweigh the traditional means of physically buying the products from a store, you could eventually lose out on potential customers.

Naturally, the users are likely to return if the experience of shopping the desired products was comfortable and hassle-free. The whole idea of having an online presence is closely associated with the concept of saving time. Thus providing a better experience in as little time as possible should be the focus of all business owners.

Punchout Catalog implementation has also helped businesses to market their products better and increase their business. They can promote some products on the homepage or category pages which the users are unlikely to search themselves. This gives the business owners a chance to market some new products that do not have a market of their own.

Additionally, suggestions can be given to the users on the basis of the products they are looking at. For instance, a person is looking for a ‘waterproof rucksack’. It is evident that this customer is looking for a bad that can accompany him when he goes hiking. The businesses can take this opportunity to showcase a few other products that are a perfect fit for a person who likes hiking. Potential items could include ‘water thermoses, ‘dry fit clothing’, as well as ‘mechanical flashlights’. This will significantly increase the potential of the business and translate to better revenue.