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    How To Improve Purchasing Experience Using Vendor Catalogs

    vendor catalogs purchasing experience

    by ProcureDeskLast Updated : Feb-20-2024

    Vendor catalogs are a very important part of your business. Not only does it make purchasing faster and more efficient, but it also helps your company organize a list of products and services offered by your preferred suppliers. However, navigating these catalogs and making purchases can sometimes be challenging.

    In this blog, we’ll simplify things and provide valuable tips to streamline your purchasing process. We’ll discuss how to effectively manage vendor catalogs and enhance your overall buying experience.

    If you’re looking for a P2P solution to help you improve your purchasing experience and offer vendor catalog features, you might want to explore our tool ProcureDesk. We have a team of experts who can walk you through how it works. Click here to see it in action

    What Is A Vendor Catalog?

    A vendor catalog is essentially a comprehensive list or database of products and services offered by a specific supplier or vendor.

    It provides detailed information about each item, such as descriptions, specifications, pricing, and availability. These catalogs can be in various formats, including printed materials, digital documents, or online platforms.

    Vendor catalogs play a crucial role in business procurement processes, as they serve as a centralized resource for companies to browse and select the products and services they need to purchase.

    By having access to vendor catalogs, businesses can compare offerings, negotiate prices, and make informed purchasing decisions.

    Related: 3 Steps To Cut Invoice Processing Time

    How Does A Vendor Catalog Contribute To A Good Purchasing Experience?

    A vendor catalog contributes to a good purchasing experience in several ways:

    • Comprehensive Product Information: Vendor catalogs provide detailed information about products and services, including descriptions, specifications, images, and pricing. This comprehensive information helps buyers make informed decisions.
    • Easy Access to Products: Having a centralized repository of products and services from various suppliers makes it easy for buyers to access what they need quickly. This streamlines the purchasing process and saves time.
    • Comparison and Selection: Vendor catalogs allow buyers to compare products from different suppliers, helping them find the best value for their money. They can evaluate features, quality, and pricing to make the right choice.
    • Efficient Ordering Process: With vendor catalogs, buyers can place orders directly from the catalog, reducing the need for manual entry and paperwork. This speeds up the ordering process and minimizes errors.
    • Consistency and Standardization: Vendor catalogs help maintain consistency in purchasing by ensuring that buyers have access to approved products and suppliers. This promotes standardization and compliance with procurement policies.
    • Supplier Relationship Management: Using vendor catalogs facilitates better communication and collaboration with suppliers. Buyers can negotiate terms, track orders, and address issues more effectively, fostering strong supplier relationships.
    • Customization and Personalization: Some vendor catalogs offer customization options, allowing buyers to tailor their orders to meet specific requirements. This enhances the purchasing experience and ensures that buyers get exactly what they need.

    What Is A Good Purchasing Experience?

    A good experience can be measured by a single factor – minimal friction to achieve what the users are trying to purchase.

    For example – if you are looking to purchase fire protection supplies, then it would be great to see all product options in one single place.

    Internal vendor catalogs

    Not all end users are created equal – they have different needs and some are best served by catalogs and some are not.

    So a catalog-based process might work great for a certain cohort of users but for some, it might not work that well.

    Some guidelines for good user experience

    • Reduce the friction by providing all information upfront – That means detailed product details including the image, description, supplier, and pricing information.
    • Limit the options and guide the users to the right option. A lot of options are good from a marketplace perspective but corporate purchasing needs a more focussed and guided buying process.
    • Provide clear direction in case a user is not able to find what they are looking for. For example – if the user is unable to find the right product, they should be able to request the item.

    That item then should be routed to the right purchasing team.

    • Continuously evolve the purchasing process by evaluating what is working and what is not working. For example, if users are unable to find a part in the catalog, then you probably need to look at the keywords used by users and include them in the description of the item

    What Are The Types Of Catalogs?

    Let’s define the types of catalogs a procurement team can create to better support the buying experience for their end-users.

    There are primarily two types of catalogs

    Catalogs that are maintained by the procurement team – also called Internal catalogs.

    And the catalogs which are maintained by the suppliers on behalf of the buyer – also called external catalogs.

    Let’s see what are the criteria for deciding whether a catalog should be internal or external.

    Internal Catalogs

    As we mentioned earlier, internal catalogs are managed by the procurement or someone internal within the organization.

    Internal catalogs, of course, need to be maintained. As and when the product mix changes or you add more suppliers to the purchasing mix, the catalog needs to be updated.

    Since it needs maintenance, companies should think through whether a catalog has to be Internal or can be supported by the vendor as an external catalog.

    The internal catalog makes sense in the following scenarios

    • The content of the catalog is static and doesn’t change that often. For example, raw material items you purchase for manufacturing goods you sell.
    • There is a limited set of items purchased per vendor.
    • The price of the items doesn’t change that often and even when it changes, it is vetted by the procurement team to ensure accuracy.
    • There is enough information available to create an internal catalog. For example, descriptions, images, etc. so that you can offer a superior purchasing experience to the end-users.
    • You have team members who can dedicate time to building and managing catalogs on an ongoing basis.

    External Catalogs

    External catalogs on the other hand are managed by the suppliers on behalf of the buyer.

    There are primarily two types of external catalogs – Punch catalogs and supplier self-managed catalogs.

    The external catalog makes sense in the following scenarios.

    • The supplier offers a huge spread of items so it doesn’t make sense to self-manage the catalog. For example, office supplies.
    • The content is not static and keeps on changing, for example – the vendor is continuously adding more items to the mix. A good example of this is substitute products – for example, Staples might add their brand of Post-it notes – which is a functional equivalent of 3M Post-it notes.
    • The pricing change of the items doesn’t have a huge impact on your business. For example – The cost of paperclips went up a few cents, of course, that is not going to have a huge impact on your bottom line.
    • Contrary to that, a few cents change in the raw material cost might have a material impact on the bottom line due to the purchase volume.
    • The supplier has resources dedicated to catalog management and can provide support when needed.
    • External catalogs can be further classified into two buckets

    Hosted By Buyer – Managed by Supplier

    As the name suggests, these catalogs are hosted by the buyer in the buyer’s purchasing system but the suppliers are given access to create and maintain the catalog.

    This is not a very common use case since it needs an internal review by the buyer before the changes can be published by the supplier.

    Moreover, supplier access needs to be continuously managed. For example, if the supplier catalog contact leaves then you need to deactivate the user and onboard and train new users on the system.

    Due to the overheads, it is advisable to limit such external catalogs.

    Punchout Catalogs

    A more common scenario for supplier-managed catalogs is punchouts. Simply put – A punch-out catalog is a catalog managed by the supplier that is accessed through your purchasing system.

    The end-user has to first log in to the purchasing system, and click on a link to open a supplier punchout catalog. For example – users going to Amazon.com punchout

    amazon punch out

    Once the user selects what they are looking for, they are sent back to the purchasing system to complete the transaction.

    purchasing controls using Amazon business

    Once the user is back in the purchasing system, they have to go through your regular purchasing process before the order can be shipped to the supplier.

    You get an awesome shopping experience as well as purchasing control.

    The one main issue with punchout catalogs is the ability to audit the price changes.

    Since the price could change over time – it is difficult to track price changes.

    For this reason, it is not advisable to use punchouts for items that are price-sensitive.

    Internal vs. External Catalogs

    Difference between Internal and External Catalogs

    Tips For Your Purchasing Catalog Strategy

    Now you have an understanding of the different types of catalogs.

    Let’s look at how to go about creating the catalogs for your procurement tool rollout.

    There are primarily two approaches for catalog curation as described below

    Upfront Catalog Setup

    In this strategy, you are building the catalogs before the rollout of the procurement system. This approach takes more time as you need to understand the purchase history and what to put in a catalog.

    This approach requires the following steps:

    1. Understand your purchasing history and identify what suppliers and what items need to be added to the catalog.

    This approach requires a detailed purchase history and purchase order line item information is preferable.

    If you don’t have a purchase order system, it will be very time-consuming to gather this information by looking at individual invoices.

    2. If line item details are not available, you can look at the spending by the supplier and evaluate if it makes sense to create catalogs for a certain set of suppliers.

    The benefit of an upfront catalog strategy is that helps you to shape the user experience from day one of the implementation – assuming you are implementing a new purchasing system.

    Though it is an ideal approach, sometimes you either don’t have the resources to invest in upfront catalog curation or you don’t have a good purchase history to understand your purchasing patterns.

    If that is the case, you can use the Smart catalog curation strategy

    Related: A Guide To Integrated Purchase Order And Inventory Software

    Smart Catalog Curation

    In simple terms, this catalog curation strategy is about creating catalogs by identifying the spending as and when it happens.

    Assume you don’t have a good purchase history and you are not in a position to start your catalogs with a few vendors.

    In that case, you can roll out the system without the catalogs, and then as and when transactions happen in the system, use that information to create catalogs.

    Now it is important to note that we are not suggesting that you automatically add every item added on the purchase order to a catalog. Instead, we are suggesting the following:

    • Let the system identify all the purchases automatically for you.
    • A purchasing team member then should review those transactions and identify patterns as repeat spend etc.

    For example, if the purchase frequency is consistent for a supplier, that supplier could be a potential candidate for a catalog.

    • Based on the purchase history and transaction data, you can then identify what line items should be added to the catalog.
    • The item descriptions should be enhanced before the catalog is published.

    We don’t recommend using only the Smart catalog curation (SCC) approach in all cases but if there is no purchase history or no resources to invest upfront, then this is your best bet.

    Setting Up Internal catalogs

    As we mentioned earlier, Internal vendor catalogs are catalogs that are managed by the procurement team.

    Related: How To Scale Procurement Department [A Complete Guide]

    You should use this type of catalog for static content – for example, a set of items where the information doesn’t change often and pricing is tightly controlled by the purchasing department.

    So how do you go about setting up internal catalogs?

    Here is a step-by-step approach to creating an internal catalog:

    • First and foremost, look at your purchasing history for the last 12-24 months.
    • The last 12 months should capture the Spend which is recurring in nature.
    • From there, summarize the data by the supplier and sort that by total spend. The idea is to identify top suppliers based on spend.
    • If you do have the last 24 months’ spend, you can look at year by year spend pattern to understand if the spending is recurring year over year. If not, then the supplier should be reviewed further to see if a catalog is required.
    • Once you have the top suppliers – segregate them into Products and Services. So any physical product would be in the product category and any type of service be in the service category.
    • Service catalogs are difficult to create and maintain, so we suggest you take that in phase two of your content curation. First, focus on the material items and create catalogs for those suppliers.

    Once you have identified the material catalogs you want to create, there are two approaches to getting to the line item information required for building the catalogs

    • Create your catalog
    • Ask your supplier

    Asking Your Suppliers

    Asking your suppliers for the items you have purchased might be the easiest way to get started on the catalog curation process. Since they have the purchase history, you can easily pull the last 12-18 months of history to start curating the content.

    A couple of things to keep in mind:

    • Make sure that item descriptions are normalized. For example, the same item description might have changed over time, so you need to make sure that you are using the latest and complete item description.
    • Make sure the pricing is the latest. In case you have multiple price points for the same item, then you should confirm the latest pricing with suppliers.
    • You should ask for standard lead times for each of these items so that you can plan your shipping using those lead times.
    • Ask for images of the products they are selling to you, that will help you to improve the end-user experience.

    You should also discuss the change management process with your suppliers. So even though you are managing the catalog, your suppliers should provide regular updates.

    Those updates could include product changes, lead time changes, or regular reviews of the pricing with your suppliers.

    Create Your Own Catalog

    We always recommend that you reach out to your suppliers first. Since curating catalogs is time-consuming, you can save a lot of time if you can get the content from your suppliers.

    However, there might be cases when the suppliers are not able to provide this data or they offer a service and there is no fixed price. In that case, you need to curate your content.

    The starting point for catalogs is purchasing history. Once you have a purchasing history, you can analyze it for top suppliers and start creating catalogs for those suppliers.

    A few tips and things to consider:

    The biggest issue we see in self-curated catalogs is that the price of the items is outdated. This issue is most common with the items which are purchased infrequently.

    Let’s say you purchased a widget 6 months back, the price was $5.00 and you used that price to create the catalog.

    The purchase order was sent to the supplier and the supplier came back that the pricing is not valid anymore. This scenario can be easily avoided by validating the price at the time of setting up the catalog.

    Along with the price, if possible, maintain a price validity so that you know when you need to reach back to the supplier to revisit the price.

    Ensure that units of measure (UOMs) are correct, otherwise, it could create issues with how the products are shipped and that would later cause invoice reconciliation issues.

    For example, the supplier sells the product by the dozen and you are ordering Each. To take an example, let’s say you want to order pens where you have a UOM of each and the supplier sells in dozens.

    If that is the case, you think you are ordering 1 item and you would be in for a little surprise when a dozen pens would show up.

    Whether you are creating the catalog on your own or asking your suppliers for the data, it is imperative that you set up a cadence for regular catalog review so that you have always the latest content in your supplier catalogs.

    Setting Up External / Punch-Out Catalogs

    External catalogs are managed by the vendors, though there are options where suppliers can manage the catalog for you, using your system, it is not a very likely scenario.

    For this discussion, by external catalogs, we mean catalogs hosted and managed by the suppliers for you. These are generally referred to as punch-out catalogs.

    A punch-out catalog is a catalog hosted by the supplier for you and which is connected to your purchasing system. It offers the convenience of online shopping and purchase authorization which is critical for enforcing purchasing compliance.

    For examples Staples.com

    Key characteristics of a punchout catalog:

    • Punchout suppliers are managed by suppliers.
    • They often are set up for categories where:
      • There is a large spread of items, so it is not possible to maintain it as an internal catalog.
      • In case the product needs to be customized, then a punchout can be a great help because the user can customize the product directly on the supplier’s e-commerce sites.
      • This is especially helpful when the users need to see the final product before they place the order, for example – business cards.
    • From the look and feel perspective, the end-user would get the same experience as the supplier’s website. However, the pricing is specific to your account. The punch-out catalog will reflect your pricing.
    • One of the common challenges with punch-outs is the ability to restrict the end-users from purchasing only a set of items.

    For example, you purchase kitchen supplies from a local vendor who gives you a great rate and faster delivery. Now assume you purchase your office supplies from Staples and they also have kitchen supplies on their website.

    In that case, you want to restrict purchases on Staples punch-out to the limited set of office supplies categories.

    Most of the punchouts allow you to block certain categories on their website so that they can only be purchased by a certain set of users or not purchased at all by anyone.

    Similarly, Amazon.com allows you set up purchasing policies in your business account and blocked categories need to go through an additional approval process.

    The pricing is managed by the vendor, so one of the disadvantages is that the price could change anytime and you probably won’t know if the pricing has changed.

    In some cases, your account manager might inform you about the price change. This is especially true in case you have a dedicated account manager.

    If you don’t want to rely on your supplier for information on price changes, then you should set up an internal process to review the price changes regularly.

    Best Practices For Supplier Catalog Management

    Catalog management done right can certainly improve the purchasing experience for your employees and help increase procurement engagement with stakeholders.

    Here are some best practices for catalog management:

    Have A Clear Strategy For Catalogs

    You should define a strategy for creating and managing catalogs so that your end users can get the best purchasing experience. The goal is to get close to the promised land of consumers like the shopping experience.

    If you are planning to roll out a purchasing system, then we advise that you first take the time to create a catalog roll-out plan.

    What should be included in your plan?

    • Product listings of suppliers for which you are planning to roll out the catalogs.
    • Timelines for each supplier, when the catalog would be available.
    • A communication plan to work with your suppliers. Your suppliers are an integral part of the catalog strategy, so effective and timely communication is very important.
    • Further segregation of supplier catalogs into internal and external catalogs.
    • A clear definition of responsibility for suppliers and your company.

    Define Ownership Of Catalogs

    By ownership, we mean internal and external ownership of the catalogs:

    Supplier Ownership

    For example, your supplier should support you with:

    • Providing content for the catalog and ensuring the accuracy of the catalog content.
    • Provide detailed descriptions including the images of the products wherever possible.
    • Provide firm pricing, so that the pricing doesn’t change that often.
    • Set up a communication process and cadence for regular review of the catalog.

    Internal Ownerhsip

    You should have an internal owner for the catalogs. With most of our customers, there is an internal purchasing team member who is responsible for the catalog setup and ongoing maintenance.

    Depending upon the number of catalogs and frequency of changes, this could take up to 30-40% FTE effort.

    Create Catalogs For Both Products And Services

    Most companies create catalogs for tangible products, however, very few companies create catalogs for services.

    Not all your Spend is going to be product purchases, so why not create service catalogs too?

    Granted, service catalogs are not as straightforward as products but done right, they can certainly help to improve the purchasing experience for your casual users (users who use the system infrequently).

    Here are some tips on creating the service catalogs

    • Review your service catalog to better understand different types of services and rates.
    • Create service catalogs only for recurring services. For example, there is no benefit in creating a catalog for a one-time software development service. However, you should create a catalog for recurring items like office cleaning services or lawn management services.
    • While setting up the catalog, it is important to understand how the vendor is planning to bill you. For example, if it is a monthly fixed fee, then the line item for that catalog can have the monthly charge as the unit price. For example $500/month. This can then be used in creating a purchase order. Check out “How to create a purchase order for services” for more details on how to use this information for creating a purchase order for a service.
    • For on-demand services use a per-unit rate, of course, the unit would vary based on the type of service.

    For example – if you have a contract for software development and you are paying the company based on the number of hours worked, then the catalog line item would have a per-hour rate. Let’s say $100/hr for a Java developer.

    So now when the user is creating the purchase order, they can use this per unit rate and enter the number of hours based on the scope of the work.

    Enhance catalogs with images for better engagement.

    “A picture is worth a thousand words” and that is certainly true for catalogs.

    Having an image ensures that the end-users are picking the right product.

    If the catalog does not have images, your users would end up spending time reading the product specifications to ensure that they are ordering the correct product.

    Let us explain with an example. Assume that you purchase zip ties to tie network cables in your data center. They are three different colors based on the application

    So the colors are black, red and green.

    So from a user experience is it better for them to look at the picture and know exactly what it is or would you rather have them read through the description to figure out what they are buying?

    Imagine Amazon.com without any images, would you like that shopping experience?

    We don’t think so and the same is true for catalogs in your purchasing system.

    So how do you get the product images?

    • Ask your vendors for the images of the products they are selling you.
    • If they can’t provide that, you can hire an intern to search for the images from the web.
    • If nothing works, have the intern click pictures of the most frequently purchased products.

    Continuously Review Catalogs For Accuracy

    We mentioned earlier also that there should be a set cadence to review your catalog content. Here is why that is required:

    Avoid Purchase Order Delays

    Having inaccurate data can lead to delays in the shipment of the orders and could cause supply chain-related delays.

    For example, if you have the wrong supplier part number, the supplier might not be able to deliver the order on time, or even worse, the order doesn’t get processed and you don’t discover till the due date of the order.

    To make sure cases like this don’t happen, you should continuously review your catalog for accuracy.

    It doesn’t have to be a frequent review but it is worthwhile spending the effort to review the catalog once every 5 months to ensure that the data remains accurate.

    Avoid Invoice-Matching Issues

    In theory, a catalog should help you significantly reduce errors related to the Procure to Pay process.

    Since the orders are created from catalogs, they should have accurate data about items.

    When an invoice is created against that purchase order, it should automatically match and reduce the effort for the A/P team.

    This vision can easily become an A/P nightmare if the data in the catalog is wrong in the first place.

    A very common example of this is a unit of measure mismatch. For example, the unit of measure on the invoice could be each and the vendor is billing in dozens. Not only does it lead to overshipment, but you also have to spend a lot of time clearing up that exception.

    What Are The Benefits And Challenges Of Vendor Catalogs?

    Vendor catalogs offer several benefits for businesses:

    • Streamlined Procurement Process: Vendor catalogs centralize product information from multiple suppliers, making it easier for businesses to browse, compare, and select the products they need. This streamlines the procurement process and saves time.
    • Increased Efficiency: With vendor catalogs, businesses can quickly find and order products without the need for extensive research or communication with suppliers. This efficiency helps expedite the purchasing cycle and improves overall productivity.
    • Cost Savings: By facilitating comparison shopping and negotiation with suppliers, vendor catalogs help businesses find the best value for their money. This can lead to cost savings through competitive pricing and favorable terms.
    • Improved Accuracy and Compliance: Vendor catalogs help ensure that purchases adhere to company policies and standards. By providing pre-approved products and suppliers, catalogs promote consistency and compliance with procurement guidelines.
    • Enhanced Supplier Relationships: Using vendor catalogs fosters better communication and collaboration with suppliers. Businesses can easily track orders, address issues, and negotiate terms, leading to stronger and more beneficial supplier relationships.
    • Customization and Tailoring: Some vendor catalogs offer customization options, allowing businesses to tailor orders to their specific needs. This flexibility ensures that businesses can obtain products that meet their unique requirements.
    • Accessibility and Convenience: Vendor catalogs are often available in digital formats, making them accessible anytime and anywhere. This convenience allows businesses to quickly find and order products, even when they’re on the go.
    • Data-driven Decision Making: Vendor catalogs provide valuable insights into purchasing patterns, supplier performance, and product availability. By analyzing this data, businesses can make more informed decisions and optimize their procurement strategies.

    On the other hand, vendor catalogs could also pose challenges to your business such as:

    • Content Management: Keeping vendor catalog content up-to-date and accurate can be challenging, especially when dealing with a large number of products and suppliers. Managing changes in product offerings, pricing, and availability requires ongoing effort and resources.
    • Data Quality: Ensuring the quality and consistency of data within vendor catalogs can be difficult, particularly when information is sourced from multiple suppliers with varying data formats and standards. Poor data quality can lead to errors, confusion, and inefficiencies in the procurement process.
    • Integration: Integrating vendor catalogs with existing procurement systems or software can be complex, especially if the catalogs are in different formats or use different data structures. Achieving seamless integration requires careful planning and technical expertise.
    • Supplier Collaboration: Building and maintaining relationships with suppliers to ensure accurate and comprehensive catalog content can be challenging. Effective communication and collaboration are essential to address issues such as product updates, pricing changes, and inventory management.
    • User Adoption: Encouraging users to adopt and effectively use vendor catalogs can be a challenge, particularly if they are accustomed to alternative purchasing methods or platforms. Providing training, support, and incentives can help increase user adoption and satisfaction.
    • Customization: Meeting the unique needs and preferences of different departments or users within an organization can be challenging when using standardized vendor catalogs. Balancing the desire for customization with the need for consistency and efficiency requires careful consideration.
    • Data Security: Ensuring the security of sensitive information contained within vendor catalogs, such as pricing agreements, contractual terms, and supplier details, is essential to protect against data breaches or unauthorized access.
    • Vendor Management: Managing relationships with multiple vendors and ensuring compliance with procurement policies and regulations can be challenging. Maintaining a transparent and fair procurement process while also meeting business objectives requires effective vendor management strategies.

    However, being able to address these challenges requires careful planning, investment in technology and resources, effective communication and collaboration with suppliers, and a commitment to continuous improvement in procurement processes.

    ProcureDesk For Your Vendor Catalog Needs

    ProcureDesk offers a way to streamline your procurement process with vendor catalogs. With catalogs, employees can easily select their desired items with just a click.

    Consider this scenario: you’re purchasing office supplies from Amazon.com.

    With a simple click, an employee can access Amazon.com, select the necessary items, and seamlessly transfer the data back to the purchase requisition. This convenient process is known as vendor punch-out catalogs.

    Below is a sample of the punch-out catalog:

    amazon_purchase_requisition

    And this is how the data gets moved to the shopping cart.

    purchase_requisition_internal_catalog

    In some cases, all you need is a simple list of items that you can purchase from a vendor.

    You can build a simple item list with some basic information enabling employees with similar purchasing experience as the vendor punch-outs.

    Here is how you can curate your catalog in purchasing software:

    Here is how you can curate your catalog in purchasing software:

    Internal_catalog

    If you’re looking for a P2P solution to help you improve your purchasing experience and offer vendor catalog features, you might want to explore our tool ProcureDesk. We have a team of experts who can walk you through how it works. Click here to see it in action

    FAQs

    What Is Required To Set Up A Catalog In Procurement?

    Setting up a catalog in procurement typically requires the following:

    • Product Information: Gather detailed information about the products or services you want to include in the catalog, such as descriptions, specifications, images, and pricing.
    • Supplier Agreements: Establish agreements with suppliers regarding the products they will provide, pricing, terms and conditions, and any other relevant information.
    • Catalog Structure: Determine the structure and organization of your catalog, including categories, subcategories, and product hierarchies, to make it easy for users to navigate.
    • Data Formatting: Ensure that the product information is formatted correctly and consistently, following any required data standards or specifications.
    • Catalog Software: Choose and set up a catalog management software or platform to create, manage, and distribute your catalog efficiently.
    • Integration: Integrate the catalog with your procurement system or software to enable seamless ordering and procurement processes.
    • Testing and Validation: Test the catalog to ensure that it displays accurately and functions correctly, and validate the content with stakeholders and end-users.

    What Are The Tools for Catalog Management?

    Several tools and software platforms are available for catalog management, including:

    • Procurement Software: Many procurement software solutions include catalog management features as part of their functionality, allowing users to create, manage, and distribute catalogs seamlessly.
    • Supplier Portal: Supplier portals provide a platform for suppliers to upload and manage their product catalogs, which can then be integrated into the buyer’s procurement system.
    • Product Information Management (PIM) Systems: PIM systems are designed to manage and enrich product information across multiple channels, making them useful for maintaining high-quality catalog data.
    • E-commerce Platforms: E-commerce platforms often include catalog management capabilities, enabling businesses to create and manage online product catalogs for both internal and external use.
    • Catalog Aggregator Services: Some services aggregate product data from multiple suppliers into a single catalog, simplifying the procurement process for buyers.

    What To Consider When Choosing Your Catalog Management Tool?

    When choosing a catalog management tool, consider the following factors:

    • Features and Functionality: Evaluate the features and functionality offered by the tool, such as catalog creation, customization, integration options, and user interface.
    • Scalability: Consider whether the tool can scale to meet your organization’s growing needs, including the ability to handle large catalogs and accommodate increasing numbers of users and suppliers.
    • Integration: Ensure that the tool can integrate seamlessly with your existing procurement system or software, as well as with suppliers’ systems for catalog synchronization.
    • Ease of Use: Look for a tool that is intuitive and user-friendly, both for catalog administrators and end-users, to encourage adoption and efficiency.
    • Data Quality and Governance: Consider how the tool supports data quality and governance processes, such as data validation, enrichment, and version control, to maintain accurate and consistent catalog information.
    • Cost and ROI: Evaluate the cost of the tool about the value it provides, considering factors such as implementation, licensing fees, support, and potential ROI in terms of time and cost savings.
    • Supplier Support: Consider whether the tool offers features or support specifically designed to help manage relationships with suppliers, such as supplier onboarding, collaboration tools, and performance tracking.

    The Bottomline

    Vendor catalogs can significantly improve the purchasing experience for the end-users. Companies implementing a purchasing system should create a vendor catalog strategy before they start implementing the system.

    Having a well-defined catalog strategy ensures that your end users can enjoy a consumer shopping experience for your corporate purchases.

    What you should do now

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