What is a PunchOut Catalog and Why Should You Care?

Supplier punchout catalogs

A PunchOut Catalog is a specific type of web based supplier catalog that connects to a purchasing organization's eProcurement system.

"PunchOut" is simply one of several names given to the technical "protocols" or "routines" that allow suppliers to directly connect their product catalogs to a purchasing organization's e-procurement systems. If you don't know what an e-procurement system is, don't worry. We'll keep it simple.

To really understand what PunchOut Catalogs are, and why they should matter to you, you first have to understand why they exist.


It all starts with e-procurement systems.

In essence, an e-procurement system is a complex, very expensive purchasing software. They are used by large companies, government organizations, educational institutions, etc., to ensure buyers make all their purchases in the same way, within a controlled environment. This has several benefits, including:

  • Saving buyers time and effort
  • Allowing management to control purchasing budgets and eliminate "maverick" or "rogue" spending
  • Allowing purchasing databases to interface with other systems within the company including inventory control, shipping and receiving, and accounting

While these systems are a great boon to the company that invests in them, they create a problem for suppliers and the buyers who need their products and services. That's because e-Procurement systems are internal to the purchasing organization. That means the suppliers who want to do business with a company that uses an e-procurement system have to find a way to 'plug in' to their system. That also means that buyers are limited to only those suppliers who are "onboard". Another challenge is that eprocurement system managers have to get supplier data – products, prices, etc. - into their e-procurement system.

punchout catalogs and e-procurement systems
Eprocurement system managers have to give their buyers access to supplier data – products, prices, etc. - within their e-procurement system. The preferred method for doing so is by searching suppliers' PunchOut Catalogs.

As we said, PunchOut is just one of many names e-procurement systems have for their connection protocols (depending on the software provider).  Here are some of the most common -

e-procurement logos ariba Jaggaer(SciQuest) Perfect Commerce Oracle Exchange Ketera Epicor eplus

e-Procurement Systems:

Ariba, MRO, Oracle, Epicor, Jaggaer(SciQuest), SupplyNet, SAP, ExoStar, Infor, ePlusB2B, PeopleSoft, Market4Care, Perfect Commerce, Oracle Exchange, Science Warehouse, IBM ShopOut, Ketera, Unity

Protocols & Message Form:

Flat files, SOAP, CSV, TapOut, EDI Van, AS2, XML, API, S-FTP, ANSI X12, EdiFact, RosettaNet, Oracle XML, EDI Software, Ariba Punchout, cXML, OCI Roundtrip, SAP idocs.


your client speciphic product data connection to big client e-procurement systems

So why does all this matter?

Because the ability to connect to an e-procurement system via PunchOut allows you to do business with bigger customers – and compete at higher levels - than you may have ever thought possible. In other words, the sellers that figure out how to connect are the ones who get the business.

Of course, there is more than one way for your data to appear in an e-procurement system, but PunchOut catalogs are by far the most preferred by buyers. You can read more about that here.

You have an opportunity to really shine to buyers by providing a PunchOut catalog. A PunchOut Catalog is simply a dedicated website created specifically for that customer's e-procurement system. This unique punchout catalog features only your contracted or requested items. That helps buyers by eliminating the hassle of wading through your entire product line to find what they need.

Additionally, your PunchOut Catalog displays their contract or discounted pricing. That means they don't have to manually calculate any special pricing that's part of your agreement. So, your PunchOut Catalog allows customers to easily shop and buy from you from within their existing e-procurement system. In short – you're making it easy for buyers to do business with you. And that can mean the difference between buyers selecting you instead of one of your competitors.


For more information about the benefits of PunchOut catalogs, and how punchout catalogs work, but sure to visit our PunchOut Blog.

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