PunchOut Catalogs vs. B2B eCommerce Sites – Understanding the Difference

Today’s technology is changing the way that companies do business. It’s also changing the way that businesses manage internal processes. PunchOut Catalogs,  more commonly known as PunchOuts or PunchOut sites drive down costs and streamline the purchasing process.

B2B eCommerce sites are another popular business purchasing method. We’ll show you the differences between PunchOuts and B2B eCommerce sites and why going with a catalog may be a better option for your business.


PunchOut Catalogs

Regardless of size, all businesses need to implement processes that not only make purchasing efficient but also cost-effective. Rather than purchasing items through an eProcurement site alone, with somewhat limited functionality, delays in purchasing, and uniform pricing, a PunchOut Catalog gives businesses fast, efficient purchasing solution platforms.

With the changing technological landscape, small supply companies can now compete on a larger scale thanks to the reduced cost of PunchOut Catalog technology. This reduction of cost for suppliers means a wider selection, and therefore reduced costs, for buyers.


How Do PunchOut Catalogs Work?

Businesses need fast, effective and customized ways of doing business with suppliers. PunchOut Catalogs are named so because they allow the buyer to leave the eProcurement system and purchase directly through the supplier’s website while still remaining connected to their eProcurement profile.

PunchOuts were developed with the buyer experience in mind. Rather than purchasing through an eCommerce and an eProcurement system, companies can streamline the purchasing process by opting for a PunchOut Catalog system. This system provides the functionality and interface of both eCommerce and eProcurement systems. What were once separate systems managed by buyers and sellers is now one efficient business purchasing platform.

What takes PunchOut Catalogs a step further from traditional procurement platforms is that the supplier can easily be involved in the transaction if necessary. That means that the supplier can step in and interact in the same system that the buyer is making purchases, which can dramatically reduce the purchase processing time if problems do arise.


The Benefits of PunchOuts

When companies choose a PunchOut site, they’re taking their existing eProcurement platform to the next level. By linking out to a supplier’s direct website for purchasing, buyers get the convenience of online shopping on top of the benefits of their eProcurement system. These benefits typically include expenditure tracking, approval flows, budgeting tools, and the ability to access customized product lists. Suppliers are able to restrict certain products and set custom negotiated prices for all of their products.

PunchOuts are specifically designed to work with your eProcurement platform, making implementation extremely simple. The systems also make price and product management automated. Prices and product availability are automatically updated, and any changes you make to restricted or approved products and price lines are effective immediately.

PunchOuts give buyers the opportunity to save money through custom, pre-negotiated products, and prices. These platforms also improve business efficiencies, drive down costs, and help control and maintain business expenditure, all while being agile and customizable. With reports and expense tracking, managing business expenses has never been easier.

These platforms can be used by both companies that are making purchases as well as suppliers to create an efficient purchasing process for everyone involved.


B2B eCommerce Sites

While they may sound similar, B2B eCommerce sites function differently than a PunchOut Catalog. A B2B eCommerce Site often utilizes a PunchOut Catalog to enhance the requisition experience for businesses, but not all eCommerce sites will use a PunchOut Catalog. Both platforms are used for business purchases.


How Do B2B eCommerce Sites Work?

While B2B eCommerce sites offer a digital purchasing platform for businesses, the functionality of a site without a PunchOut Catalog integration is very different from one that does have PunchOut Catalog integration.

An eCommerce site or centralized eProcurement platform creates a consistent experience for all users involved. Rather than having a different interface depending on which supplier you’re purchasing from through a PunchOut Catalog, purchasing is on a uniform interface regardless of what supplier.

This is because rather than linking your eProcurement platform to a supplier’s external site through a PunchOut Catalog, product listings and prices are manually uploaded into the eCommerce system. This creates a consistent purchasing experience for anyone accessing the eCommerce platform, but it does delay product updates and pricing information, as individual files need to be manually uploaded with each change.


The Differences Between PunchOut Catalogs and B2B eCommerce Sites

When thinking about PunchOUt Catalogs and B2B eCommerce platforms, both systems are designed to make the business purchasing experience streamlined for both suppliers and businesses making purchases.

The true differences are found in the level of personalization, customization, and ease of use. An eCommerce site is the foundation of a business purchasing platform, and often incorporates eProcurement and/or PunchOuts.

Where an eCommerce platform does provide consistency in the purchasing experience, it also increases delays and procurement time when compared to PunchOut Catalog integration. By shopping directly on a supplier’s site, the experiences are different from supplier to supplier, but pricing and product availability are updated real-time, purchase orders are automatically generated, and expenses are easier to track and manage. PunchOut Catalogs have also proven to reduce errors in orders by providing businesses with simple online shopping platforms.


Why Would Your Business Need a PunchOut Catalog?

A PunchOut Catalog is ideal for businesses that heavily rely on their e-Procurement systems. Regardless of the size of your business, a PunchOut Catalog can help. Here are some reasons why a PunchOut Catalog may be right for your business.

Expense Management

As a business that regularly makes purchases from multiple suppliers, expenses need to be tracked, managed, and analyzed. A PunchOut Catalog allows businesses to easily manage expenses through purchase orders and multiple levels of approval within the company. Export reports and divert budget to the vendors that provide you the most value.

Streamlined Purchases

PunchOuts eliminate the need for businesses to manually review product lists and price offers, and there is no longer a need to manually upload files with every product change and update. These platforms are designed for automatic updates in a 24/7 digital purchasing environment. By linking out to the vendor’s own eCommerce platform that is customized for your business, you can reduce the time it takes to purchase items for your business. Review inventory, purchase products, receive purchase orders and analyze purchasing data all from your PunchOut Catalog platform.


Custom, Automatic Pricing

Custom pricing is beneficial to both buyers and sellers. The ease of use of a PunchOut Catalog allows suppliers of all sizes to compete for large purchasing companies. It also drives down costs by updating products and pricing automatically, which allows suppliers to provide even more competitive prices to buyers. Traditional eCommerce platforms required suppliers to upload product lists for manual review. PunchOut Catalog automation reduces delays and creates a simple, online shopping platform with custom pricing tailored for each business.


Reach More Customers

Many businesses are requiring suppliers to use PunchOut Catalogs in order to win their business. As a supplier, PunchOut Catalogs will not only lower your costs but can also help you reach more clients and customers. Electronic purchase orders, invoices, and purchasing platforms are what businesses are looking for in order to reduce costs and increase efficiencies.


Melissa Stanley is a veteran tech writer and editor who has worked in several eCommerce companies so far. She has been covering technology online for over five years. She is Client Service Manager of PCGT – PunchOut Catalogs.