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The Power of Punchout Catalogs: Revolutionizing Procurement

  • By ProcureDesk
  • September 25,2023
  • 10 min read

The Power of Punchout Catalogs: Revolutionizing Procurement

The Power of Punchout Catalogs: Revolutionizing Procurement

Is your team wasting too much time manually picking out the product information of items you want to procure? Chances, are, that’s because you don’t have punchout catalogs to help you with your systems.

As a procurement professional, you would know exactly the simplicity that punchout catalogs experience can bring your business. With a labyrinth of suppliers, products, and even purchase orders, your company needs to find ways you prevent inefficiencies, delayed approvals, leaking budgets, and countless hours of reconciling discrepancies in your system.

This blog will discuss how punchout catalogs can solve your procurement puzzles. We will provide you with an in-depth understanding of punchout catalogs and how they can help revolutionize your company’s B2B purchasing so you can ultimately safeguard your bottom line.

If you’re ready to take control of your B2B procurement process and elevate your financial game, our procurement software offers a punchout catalog feature. Our team of experts can walk you through how our product works. See it in action today!

What Is A Punchout Catalog?

A punchout catalog is a digital catalog that allows your business to purchase goods and services from your suppliers without leaving your procurement system.

Punchout catalogs are typically hosted on a supplier’s website, which you can access through a link in your procurement system. This makes it easier to browse supplier products and services (for example, Amazon) and quickly add and checkout using a procurement system like ProcureDesk.

What Is The Purpose Of A Punchout Catalog?

A punchout catalog is a strategic tool to help you enhance the purchasing experience of your organization. Aside from that, it helps you streamline your procurement process. It allows you to access a wide range of products from your preferred suppliers and enables real-time updates on item availability and pricing.

The main purpose of a punchout catalog is to provide your business with seamless integration between your e-procurement system and your preferred supplier’s catalog. With the punchout catalog, you no longer need to switch between multiple e-procurement platforms or even use shopping carts. Instead, you can punch out from the e-procurement system while accessing your supplier’s website.

To summarize in a nutshell, here’s the purpose of punchout catalogs or your business:

  • It increases your efficiency by eliminating the need to input product data manually
  • It reduces the risk of errors
  • It offers real-time updates on product availability, ensuring you have access to the most up-to-date information.
  • It allows you to take advantage of your preferred supplier’s negotiated discount codes to enhance your purchasing power and strengthen your relationship with your suppliers.’
  • It simplifies and enhances your procurement experience by offering seamless integration.

Punchout catalogs offer your company a competitive advantage in modern procurement systems.

How Does A Punchout Catalog Work?

A punchout catalog integrates your procurement system with your supplier’s e-commerce platform. This allows you to browse and purchase products from your supplier’s catalog while making it easier to move them into your procurement system.

Here’s a basic overview of how a punchout catalog works:

1. You log into your procurement system and select the punchout catalog from the supplier you want to purchase from

2. Browse through your supplier’s e-commerce platform to purchase goods as usual

3. When you’re ready to check out, submit your products for approval and be directed to your procurement system

4. Successfully order your items of choice from your supplier.

Note that punchout catalogs may use various technologies to integrate into your procurement system with the supplier’s e-commerce platform.

The most common technology is called cXML (commerce eXtensible Markup Language). cXML is a standard format for exchanging business data electronically.

What Are The Steps To Complete A Punchout In ProcureDesk

Let’s walk through the steps on how you can use the punchout catalog feature in ProcureDesk:

Step 1: In the ProcureDesk tool, click the logo of your preferred vendor/e-commerce supplier.

Step 2: This will automatically direct you to your preferred vendor’s website.

Step 3: Click on the item you would like to buy. For example, you want to buy an LED Monitor. Click Add to cart and proceed to checkout.

Step 4: Before you purchase, the system will give you a link to submit the information to ProcureDesk for approval.

Step 5: When you click on submit for approval, this will automatically take all the information into ProcureDesk software.

Step 6: Now your item is ready in ProcureDesk.

Do you want to learn more about ProcureDesk’s features besides Punchout Catalogs? We have a team of specialists who can walk you through the other features of our procurement system. See it in action today!

Level 1 vs. Level 2 Punchout Catalog

Without a doubt. Punchout catalogs have become an essential component of e-procurement systems and streamlining the purchasing process for businesses.

It enables a seamless integration between your procurement system and a supplier’s catalog, making it easier to purchase products and services while maintaining procurement compliance.

Did you know that there are two primary levels of punchout catalogs? We have Level 1 and Level 2.

Level 1 Punchout Catalog

A Level 1 Punchout catalog is the basic form of Punchout integration. Here are some of the characteristics of a level 1 punchout catalog:

  • Direct Access: In a Level 1 Punchout catalog, users are redirected from the procurement system to the supplier’s catalog. When users want to shop for products or services, they leave the buyer’s system and enter the supplier’s website.
  • Limited Customization: Level 1 Punchout catalogs typically offer limited customization options. You may not have much control over the look and feel of the supplier’s catalog, which may affect your user experience.
  • Simplified Ordering: Level 1 Punchout catalogs simplify purchasing by allowing you to select and add items to your shopping cart. However, the experience may not be as seamless as with Level 2 catalogs.

Level 2 Punchout Catalog

A Level 2 Punchout catalog offers a more advanced and robust integration between your procurement system and your supplier’s catalog. Here’s what you need to know about Level 2 Punchout catalogs:

  • Embedded Experience: In Level 2 Punch-Out catalogs, you can access your supplier’s catalog directly within the procurement system for a more seamless and integrated experience.
  • Enhanced Customization: Level 2 Punchout catalogs provide greater customization options. You can often tailor your supplier’s catalog to match your branding and user interface preferences, creating a more consistent and user-friendly experience.
  • Advanced Features: Level 2 catalogs often include real-time pricing and inventory availability features. This ensures you have access to the most up-to-date information when purchasing decisions.

What Are The Benefits Of A Punchout Catalog

Punchout Catalogs play a crucial role in the context of your e-procurement systems and offer a significant competitive advantage for your organization.

These catalogs serve as an electronic product catalog that seamlessly integrates with your e-procurement system, making accessing your supplier’s website directly into your procurement application easier.

In this section, let’s discuss some of the benefits of a punchout catalog

Provides Real-Time Updates

One of the key benefits of punchout catalogs is the ability to provide real-time availability, updates, pricing, and discount codes. This ensures that you have access to the most up-to-date information while making your purchasing decisions.

By offering accurate pricing and current data, punchout catalogs facilitate informed buying processes and choices and reduce the risk of purchasing outdated or out-of-stock items for your business.

Enhances Shopping Experience For Users

Punchout catalogs enhance your shopping experience.

Instead of using a static catalog, you can browse your preferred supplier’s website, benefiting from advanced features like search functionality and personalized shopping experiences.

This improves your company’s user satisfaction and streamlines your purchasing process.

Allows Seamless Integration

Punchout catalogs enable seamless integration with your e-procurement system, allowing for a more efficient and automated entire procurement process.

By leveraging the existing infrastructure, your organizations can eliminate the need for manual data entry, reduce errors, and accelerate the approval process.

Punchout catalogs are vital in your organization’s e-procurement systems as they offer real-time updates, seamless integration, and an enhanced shopping experience. By leveraging these benefits, your organization can gain a competitive edge and optimize its procurement activities.

No Maintenance

With PunchOut catalogs, you don’t need to maintain an internal catalog.

This eliminates the need for constant updates and ensures you can always access the supplier’s most up-to-date product information and pricing.

Detailed Product Information

Punchout catalogs provide real-time access to detailed product information, specifications, pricing, and availability. This ensures you make informed purchasing decisions based on accurate and current data.

Simplified And Centralized Purchasing

Punchout catalogs simplify your procurement process by centralizing purchasing within your procurement system.

Accessing multiple supplier catalogs from one ecommerce platform makes streamlining your purchasing workflow easier.

Related: Purchase Order For Services – How To Increase PO Adoption

Increased Productivity

By eliminating manual data entry and simplifying the ordering process, punchout catalogs increase the productivity of your company’s procurement department.

This helps you focus on more strategic tasks rather than administrative work.

Cost-Efficient Procurement

Punchout catalogs help you make cost-efficient decisions by giving you visibility into negotiated pricing, discounts, and supplier contracts.

This contributes to your company’s cost savings and efficient procurement practices.

Related: Procurement Cost Control

Increased Order Accuracy

Punchout catalogs reduce order errors by automating the ordering process within your business.

You can easily select from your supplier’s catalog, reducing the risk of incorrect item codes or quantities.

Increased Buyer Retention

Punchout catalogs can enhance your buyer satisfaction and retention. With a punchout catalog, you can appreciate the convenience and efficiency of punchout catalogs, leading to stronger and longer-lasting supplier relationships.

Fraud Protection

Punchout catalogs can enhance security and fraud protection in the procurement process. Authenticating users and transactions within the procurement system reduces the risk of unauthorized electronic purchases.

What Are The Challenges Of A Punchout Catalog?

Implementing a punchout process within your business can come with a few challenges.

Let’s discuss some common roadblocks in implementing a punchout catalog within your organization.

Complexity Of Catalog Integration

One major challenge is the complexity of catalog integration.

Integrating a punchout process with an e-procurement system requires technical expertise and can be time-consuming. Your organization should ensure a seamless integration to provide a smooth shopping experience for their buyers.

ProcureDesk has more than 150 catalogs that makes it easier for you to work with your preferred vendors.

Need For Accurate Up-To-Date Product

Punchout catalogs require real-time updates to ensure that the latest prices, availability, and product details are displayed. Your company must establish a strong relationships with suppliers to facilitate timely information communication.

Technical Issues

Incompatibility between your procurement system and the punchout catalog can lead to errors and frustrations. Your organization should invest in robust infrastructure and ensure compatibility between your systems to avoid these issues.

The ProcureDesk team manages all integrations of the vendors which makes it easier for your team to focus on more strategic tasks!

Impact On Electronic Procurement 

The impact on the procurement process is another consideration. Punchout catalogs may tend to disrupt traditional procurement methods. Thus, some buying organizations might need to adapt their processes to accommodate this.

This may involve training procurement managers and staff on using the new system and adjusting the approval processes accordingly.

What Are The Technical Requirements Of A Punchout Catalog?

To ensure smooth and efficient procurement processes, there are certain technical requirements that a punchout catalog must meet.

Here are some of the important technical requirements of a punchout catalog:

  • Specific format: Supplier catalogs must be in a specific format called the catalog interchange format or the cXML format, which allows for efficient data transmission between systems. This enables easy integration with the buyer’s e-procurement system. This format allows for more structured and standardized transfers.
  • Catalog integration methods: Catalog integrations are another critical aspect of this. Suppliers should provide punchout integrations to establish a connection between an e-procurement system and the catalogs. This will allow users to directly access a supplier’s website to view the most up-to-date product information. Catalog Integration Methods are required to establish a connection between the buyer’s e-procurement system and the supplier’s punchout catalog. This includes using standard protocols such as HTTP, HTTPS, and XML to transmit and receive data securely and efficiently.
  • Seamless integration: Seamless integration with the e-procurement system requires specific technological capabilities. Through punchout integrations, users can access the supplier’s catalog as if shopping on the supplier’s website. They can view real-time information on products, pricing, discounts, and stock availability. Real-time updates are crucial for ensuring users have the latest information on product availability and current discounts.
  • Ability to access item catalog: Additionally, the ability to access item catalog within a buyer’s system streamlines the purchasing process and eliminates the need for manual data entry.

By having all these technical requirements, a punchout catalog successfully facilitates a smooth and efficient procurement process to enhance the procurement experience of users.


Are Punchout Connections Based On Standards?

Yes, punchout connections are based on standards. The most common standard is called cXML (commerce eXtensible Markup Language). cXML is a standard format for exchanging business data electronically.

What Is B2B ECommerce Punchout?

B2B punchout in e-commerce is a process that allows buyers to purchase goods and services from suppliers without having to leave their procurement system. Punchout is based on the cXML standard, which allows buyers and suppliers to exchange data electronically.

How Do E-Commerce Punchouts Work?

To use an e-commerce punchout, users must first connect their procurement system and the supplier’s ecommerce platform. Once the connection is set up, buyers can browse and purchase products from the supplier’s catalog without leaving their procurement system.

Users are redirected to their procurement system when they are ready to checkout. The user’s procurement system automatically transfers the order information to the supplier’s e-commerce platform. The supplier then processes the order and ships the products to the buyer.

What Is A Punchout Website?

A punchout website is a website that allows users to browse and purchase products from suppliers without having to leave their procurement system. Suppliers typically host punchout websites, but third-party providers can also host them.

Punchouts Vs. E-Commerce Sites For B2B

Punchouts and e-commerce sites are ways businesses can buy and sell products online. However, there are some key differences between the two.

Punchouts are integrated with buyers’ procurement systems. This means buyers can purchase products from suppliers without leaving their procurement system. This can save buyers time and reduce errors.

E-commerce sites are standalone websites where businesses can buy and sell products. E-commerce sites offer more features than punchouts, such as product reviews and customer ratings. However, e-commerce sites require buyers to create an account and enter their payment information.

How Much Does It Cost To Build A Punchout Catalog?

The cost to build a punchout catalog varies depending on the size and complexity of the catalog. A simple punchout catalog can cost a few thousand dollars to build. A more complex punchout catalog can cost tens of thousands of dollars to build.

Generally speaking, you can expect to pay between $10,000 and $50,000 for a basic punchout catalog. More complex catalogs with additional features, such as real-time inventory updates and dynamic pricing, can cost upwards of $100,000.

If you are on a tight budget, there are a few things you can do to reduce the cost of your punchout catalog:

  • Start with a smaller catalog and add products and services over time.
  • Use a pre-built catalog template instead of having a custom catalog developed from scratch.
  • Work with a developer who has experience building punchout catalogs for businesses of your size.

What Kind Of Business Uses Punchout Catalogs?

Businesses of all sizes use punchout catalogs. However, punchout catalogs are most commonly used by large businesses with complex procurement processes.

What To Consider If You Want To Use A Punchout Catalog

Here are some things to consider if you want to use a punchout catalog:

  • Do your suppliers offer punchout catalogs? Not all suppliers offer punchout catalogs. If you are interested in using a punchout catalog, you must find suppliers offering this service.
  • Is your procurement system compatible with punchout catalogs? Not all procurement systems are compatible with punchout catalogs. Be sure to check with your procurement system vendor to ensure your system is compatible.
  • What is your budget? Punchout catalogs can be expensive to implement and maintain. Make sure you have the budget in place before you get started.

Related: Vendor Catalogs And Purchasing Experience

The Bottomline

Punchout catalogs can be a very valuable tool for business. It can help streamline your procurement process, reduce errors, reduce labor costs, improve compliance, and even increase sales!

Whether looking for efficiency and cost savings or seeking increased productivity in your company- punchout catalogs are a win-win solution that can help drive success to your bottom line.

Embracing this adaptable technology in e-procurement software can lead to better vendor management, improved cost savings, reduced cost customer satisfaction, and a more accurate purchasing process!

What you should do now

Whenever you’re ready… here are 4 ways we can help you scale your purchasing and Accounts payable process.

  1. Claim your Free Strategy Session. If you’d like to work with us to implement a process to control spending, and spend less time matching invoices, claim your Free Strategy Session. One of our process experts will understand your current purchasing situation and then suggest practical strategies to reduce the purchase order approval cycle.
  2. If you’d like to know the maturity of your purchasing process, download our purchasing process grader and identify exactly what you should be working on next to improve your purchasing and AP process.
  3. If you’d like to enhance your knowledge about the purchasing process, check out our blog or Resources section.
  4. If you know another professional who’d enjoy reading this page, share it with them via email, Linkedin, Twitter.