So, what exactly is a punch out catalog?
A punch out catalog (more commonly spelled as punchout catalog) is ecommerce technology that provides a way for buyers to access a specific vendor’s catalog of products from within the buyer’s eProcurement system.
Punchout catalogs are convenient for buyers, who can purchase from approved vendors from within their own purchasing system in an experience that mimics consumer online shopping.
Once the buyer has logged into the eProcurement system, they can access the seller’s level 2 punchout catalog to view the products, descriptions, and customer-specific prices of all the items for sale. Buyers place an order directly through the procurement system, and the completed order is routed to the supplier and processed through the supplier’s order processing system, which may be an automated or manual process.
An e-commerce standard protocol called cXML allows these transactions to happen by communicating between the buyer’s eProcurement system and the seller’s catalog, as well as facilitating secure data transfer between the two.
A connection between the buyer’s eProcurement system and the seller’s catalog can also take place with a level 1 punchout. Level 1 punchout is “direct-to-catalog.”
Another catalog option for suppliers is a hosted catalog. Hosted catalogs may seem easier to set up since the vendor can simply provide the buyer with a spreadsheet of product information. Easy setup is offset by significant disadvantages for the seller. Hosted catalogs are more difficult to update and they do not deliver an easy shopping experience.
What are the benefits of a punchout catalog?
The many benefits of using a punchout catalog include ease of access to products and negotiated prices as well as convenience for the buyer. For the seller, the benefits of punchout catalogs include reduced human error for order processing, easy updating, increased sales volumes, and better customer loyalty.
Vendors who implement punchout catalogs often see sales increase as they become more accessible and visible to their buyers. Buyers are less likely to buy from vendors if they have to go through many complicated steps to complete the purchase.
Typically, the buying organization asks its vendors to create a punchout catalog connected to the buyer’s eProcurement system. Because of this, vendors who are “punchout ready”—meaning they are already capable of providing punchouts to buyers and eProcurement systems—will have a leg up compared to vendors who don’t. Companies that request that their vendors use punchout tend to be larger organizations with sizable procurement budgets.
For a more detailed explanation of punchout catalogs, download our ebook, So Your Customer Wants Punchbout. Now What?