What is a Punchout Catalog?

What Is a Punchout Catalog?

A PunchOut Catalog (or punch out catalog) refers to an e-procurement solution which grants customers easy access to a vendor product catalog from the supplier website interface. This process follows a trend when a customer "punches out" a procurement application the the actual site and was granted access to the product catalog. This also includes adding items to the shopping cart and other related activities.

This set-up is designed in a way that the vendor isn't notified when any purchase is made by the customer. Buyer's e-procurement system serves as a processor for the items in the shopping cart. This makes it very easy for customers to migrate between different site's catalog without his knowledge.

Technically, PunchOut catalog is basically an online supplier catalog that is developed by an open catalog interface in order to support PunchOut Procurement related with a customized PunchOut website. The PunchOut ecommerce solution enhances the structured relation between an e-procurement system of the buyer or ERP and the storefront of the vendor.

It is important to note that a PunchOut catalog stands amidst the most effective way for customers to examine a vendor's catalog. Also, it's a convenient way to place orders with the use of an e-procurement system.

What is a punchout catalog

How Does a Punchout Catalog Work?

PunchOut catalog works on the principle of open catalog interface (OCI), a standard format used by SAP Supplier Relationship Management, Microsoft Dynamics AX, and other purchasing systems that links to the external PunchOut online catalog. The customer that is interested in buying a product leaves "Punches out of '' their procurement application and moves to the seller's webspace or e-catalog. The buyer can then shop and add items in his cart while a connection is present between the two applications (Buyers procurement application and Suppliers web-based catalog). By the time the buyer wants to place his order, the cart and placed items are sent back to the buyer's procurement application, and the customer does not follow the standard business-to-consumer (B2C) checkout procedure. When the cart is sent back, the order is placed through their application to the supplier organization for financial approval; as soon as it is verified, a purchase order is created and sent to the supplier to fulfill.

The moment there is a PunchOut integration with the buyer's e-procurement application, a purchase would look like this:

The prospective buyer/ Organization employee uses his e-procurement application and selects your supplier name as the "vendor."

Your website and all its contents would be fully displayed to the user even though he hasn't really logged in or visited your actual website. He can now browse and search for the products or goods he requires and add them to his shopping cart; however, instead of "checking out," he is "Punching out." When he is satisfied with the product he has added, he would send a request for approval within his company's e-procurement application and wait for the approval. The moment the approval is granted, the system sends the product list to the supplier's original site and the normal procedure for online purchase proceeds. The PunchOut process is quite straightforward, and it helps buyers and organizations to search for and purchase products freely on numerous sites without having to leave their e-procurement applications.

How does a punchout catalog work?

What is the PunchOut e-procurement system?

An electronic procurement is a standardized way that large organizations and government agencies utilize others to purchase a large number of items for their daily needs. Although the process might seem the same as the regular buying from shopping sites, there is a big difference, and electronic procurement requires an e-procurement application to monitor management policies, vendor agreements, and some other specifications.

An e-procurement system is simply an application used by business organizations to conduct electronic transactions. It is a means by which employees of an organization and agencies purchase goods needed by that organization. Business organizations task their officers in charge of purchase to conduct transactions only through their e-procurement system. The application can also be used to browse and look for products online from different suppliers. When the procurement officer sees an item that needs to be purchased, he adds it to the cart and sends it within the buying organization he works for, for approval via the e-procurement system. Once it is approved, an order request is sent to the supplier to deliver.

What is the punchout procurement system?

There are two kinds of vendor catalogs for e-procurement systems:

Hosted catalog/ CIF Catalog

A list of products available for purchase created by the vendor (usually in an excel format) to give vital information for checking goods and services; suppliers can easily create catalogs and buyers and easily access them, this type of catalog is ideal for catalog lists that rarely change. However, it is unable to share information with the e-commerce website.

PunchOut catalog

This vendor application provides adequate information for ordering goods and services and supplies marketing and promotional information directly to the customers. It is far more dynamic and automated, and it is easier for it to be integrated with the E-commerce system.

The events that happen in various aspects of the PunchOut website are:

Connect: Allows buyers to browse the supplier's website, enables them to view their product catalog through the e-procurement system.

Shop: The buyer searches for the item he needs without actually visiting the supplier site; when he is done, he waits for approval.

Purchase order: Once the approval is given and account information is provided, the buyer's E-procurement application sends the order request.

Redirect and Data transfer: Using the PunchOut system, that order request made by the buyer is redirected or transferred to the supplier's site in standard PunchOut languages cXML or OCI.

Shipping: When the order is finally processed by the supplier, the packing of the product for shipping starts immediately in real-time.

Record keeping: When the products have been successfully shipped and the transaction completed, the PunchOut would send data concerning the order back to the e-procurement for future reference, inspection and report.

PunchOut integration over the years has been made to be easy and cheap, and the process quite simple to understand and execute. However, languages and protocols have to be properly set and managed. For most companies, corporations are trying to stay in a competitive market, even government agencies. E e-procurement systems are a great way to monitor employee purchases, give approvals, keep track of company expenses and save time.

Would we need a separate PunchOut catalog?

No, when you have a PunchOut catalog, there is no need to create a separate PunchOut because the technology provided synchronizes the data moving to and from the e-commerce application. In other words, your e-commerce application is used either for direct B2C, B2B, or B2B e e-procurement PunchOut orders.

What other procurement systems can be integrated?

When you use an e-procurement system, other procurement systems can be integrated into it. Like Sap Aruba, oracle, Peoplesoft, amongst others. There are basically three kinds of integration available for procurement systems such as:

Standard E-procurement: this is a resource planning application such as the management module in the SAP ERP system.

Add on e-procurement: this is usually attached to an ERP system to improve its functionality, such as "Supplier Relationship Management,"

Cloud-based e-procurement: this is a service that integrates with most systems, and it is able to get data from e-commerce platforms and other sources, and it is the most versatile of integrations. E.g Coupa e-procurement.

What's different between CIF/Hosted and PunchOut catalogs?

They basically do the same thing, PunchOut catalogs and CIF/Hosted catalogs both allow suppliers and organizations to display their products up for sale to their buyers through a procurement application. However, their approach towards fulfilling this goal differs.

A CIF catalog is a somewhat static list that only provides information about goods that are displayed within the organization's procurement system; it is also referred to as a line item catalog. The supplier must always compile the data for the catalog and upload certain data into the buyer's e-procurement system. Examples include SAP Ariba, Coupa, JAGGAER.

Whereas a PunchOut catalog is a more dynamic tool that can integrate with a buyer procurement system in a real time format, and it handles data in a more automatic way, organizations utilize this format more frequently.

What Are the Types of Punchout?

There are two types of eVA catalogs:

  • CIF (Catalog Interchange format)
  • Punchout

Catalog interchange format files

CIFS is not entirely PunchOuts but is a common term and tool used in the PunchOuts process. It is simply product data uploaded into a buyer E-procurement system; unlike regular PunchOuts, it has to be operated manually.

cXML, "Commerce eXtensible Markup Language," and OCI PunchOuts "Open catalog interface": These are the two bases of communication between e-commerce and e e-procurement platforms. However, cXML is more frequently used.

Level 2 PunchOut

This utilizes both your e-commerce site and a catalog file which provides information similar to CIF; giving this catalog file to the buyer's e-procurement application systems means that they are able to access your website in two ways, the first way is direct, where the buyer shops on your website via the PunchOut, the Second way is when the customer selects items in his e-procurement app and clicks to PunchOut on the corresponding page in your website.

What is a level 2 PunchOut catalog?

A level 2 PunchOut catalog gives purchasing organizations a way of searching for products to purchase within their e-procurement application without having to go to the supplier's website directly. The buyer searches for an item in his own application. If there is a level two catalog within the application, the product in the supplier's PunchOut catalog site matching the search result would be displayed. If the buyer wants to place the final order on the product, the application will redirect the buyer to that product page on the supplier's site. A level two PunchOut gives the suppliers increased visibility and visits to their catalog.

What is the difference between cXml and OCI?

cXML (Commerce eXtensible Markup Language) is a type of standard document language that gives users with procurement systems the ability to PunchOut to an e-commerce website.

OCI (Open Catalog Interface) is a little bit the same as XML however uses field mapping to connect the buyer's procurement system and the supplier's e-commerce site. OCI is more configurated than CXML and is more versatile.

cXML parameters

Vendor setup

External catalogs

  • cXML mode
  • Send purchase request updates
  • Send purchase request delete
  • Archive path
  • Max characters for street line
  • Send purchase over cXML
  • Punchout protocol types
  • Order properties
  • Punchout extrinsics

Why Do Buyers Request Punchout?

Most companies and agencies have strict policies on purchase, a rigid budget to follow, verified vendors, and a lot of other regulations. PunchOut application assist these corporations in managing their procurement activities and gives some advantages such as:

  • Reduced Cost: PunchOuts offer some avenues to save money due to reduced labor the PunchOut system offers together with automation. There are also discounts from the suppliers on their E-commerce website. Working with a PunchOut system is more cost-effective than an ordinary B2C solution.
  • Managed time: A PunchOut catalog gives a stable online connection between your organization's e-procurement application and the supplier's website, meaning you would not waste time searching for suppliers' websites when you want to purchase items, and less time is spent on manual work since it is automated.
  • Reduced error and improved speed and accuracy: A PunchOut catalog aids in reducing purchasing errors within a buyer organization. It also makes purchasing fast, and there isn't much work that needs to be done before you get a product from a verified vendor. Productivity is also increased, and the procurement processes are more easily managed.
  • Centralized system: With a single PunchOut catalog, companies can manage information and purchases better since the buyer has to send the product through the e-procurement application for approval. Companies can set appropriate rules and manage workflow.
  • Real Time Updates: PunchOut catalogs information, items, and prices are always automatically updated, making the information provided to be in real time.
  • Checking and avoiding illegitimate and underground purchases: Underground purchases are products bought by employees that are not included in the procurement list; however, it was purchased using the company's money and in the company name, which can cause the company losses, having a PunchOut system means that all transactions reports are sent back to the company through their e-procurement application so underground or dark purchases can be checked and prevented.
  • Complications due to sourcing are reduced: It might be difficult to keep track of all suppliers a company has business with and the products they provide; however, with a Punchout system, all that is needed is the PunchOut catalog of various suppliers, and you can easily search for products from various sources without leaving your e-procurement application.

While PunchOut procurement methods might seem complicated at first and a hassle, it is highly needed for efficiency and decorum for large companies and government agencies that have rigid rules and systems put in place.

What’s next after you’ve been asked to provide a Punchout catalog?

Due to the number of advantages, automation, ease of work, and control it offers, most organizations and large corporations require PunchOut before purchasing goods. As a supplier, your task is to monitor the market and see the kinds of things it responds to. If organizations want a PunchOut catalog, you would have to get it in order to stay competitive in an ever changing market.

How would a company benefit from having a PunchOut Catalog?

More and more companies are opting for the PunchOut catalog due to a number of reasons, and product vendors have been tasked with providing these catalogs; most suppliers don't understand the reason for this and might not be quick to adapt, but experienced suppliers know how important a catalog is and the benefits it gives their customers. A small number of perks that can be achieved by having a catalog includes:

  • Keeping valuable customers
  • Getting new bids and Opportunities
  • Revenues can be increased
  • Improved Customer loyalty
  • Gives the supplier an edge over competitors.
  • Customer satisfaction will also be guaranteed.

PunchOut is steadily becoming a must have for supplier companies. They must fulfill, e-procurement applications on their own might not offer a great experience, and the range is quite limited when it comes to sourcing for products. A PunchOut easily solves this problem by providing the users a way to access your site, easily increasing your chances to make a purchase. The methodology is not complicated, and the employee can get the full experience of your website and conduct procurement processes as he would do in an actual E-commerce site even though he is still on his e-procurement application. You can gain more loyalty from your customers, get more sales, and cash in more profitable transactions with a PunchOut system.

Why Should We Choose Virto Commerce?

Virto Commerce is 100% focused on giving top quality services to help upcoming suppliers build a standard and well functioning PunchOut system for e-commerce.Virto Commerce has proven its standard over the years by serving as a B2C and B2B platform that aids companies with making their budget. They function incredibly well in the following areas; training, consultation, and quality support to ensure that the company's services make a stunning and befitting impact on your company.

Virto Commerce provides an open source strategy that is implemented by introducing various notable features that will make a huge impression on the growth of your company. The program is categorized into two editions:

  • The Enterprise edition and
  • The Cloud edition.

These editions are required to be funded in order to gain access to the exclusive features that are equipped in the version. After funding the program, you can make use of these editions that are improved in such a way that your company will enjoy numerous features provided by Virto Commerce. Virto Commerce software always:

  • updates itself automatically in order to keep your SMB up-to-date and for the new features and patches.
  • The program is equipped with a notification engine, extensible architecture, and logging services.
  • Also, Virto Commerce provides a flexible event enabled data layer, authorization, and authentication services which makes the program update you automatically without the need for you to waste your time and effort to complete the task.

Virto Commerce provides numerous e-commerce benefits that will enable the smooth operation of your business online. These benefits include:

  • Complex multi-tenant capabilities,
  • Content management,
  • Order management,
  • Marketing and pricing,
  • Promotions, marketing,
  • Merchandising,
  • Product information management,
  • Catalog and PunchOut.

Virto Commerce also serves as a commerce integration platform that simplifies the integration of advancing e-commerce abilities with other systems of business that ignite faster starts.

In conclusion, Virto Commerce stands among the greatly developed products companies in the business space. You can check out the program and its enormous benefits in order to get started and have a flawless operation. Your customers can be rest assured that your site is secure and always updated. Companies can download and use Virto Commerce for free without any incurred charges. Virto Commerce is available for all companies to fix their online needs.

How do we drive usage of the eProcurement channel?

The moment the Punchout catalog is being utilized by a supplier company, the next step would be to build the channel, which can be achieved by making use of the resources available to the company to develop a complete marketing strategy, product lists, marketing collaterals, and more. Collaborating with a third party that is an expert in e-procurement (Virto Commerce) to develop marketing strategies). The supplier organization also makes an effort in training their customers on how to properly utilize e-procurement systems in order to properly carry out business transactions.

What other advantages are we ready to offer

Solution Providers and Developers can make use of this platform to:

  • Create with the use of recent technologies, like Entity Framework 5, 4.5, MVC 4 Razor, .NET Framework and many others.
  • Get on-demand reliability, performance, and scalability with a platform formulated to work perfectly well for Microsoft Azure.
  • Change or replace some delicate parts with the use of the flexible architecture.
  • Customize business processes with the use of Windows Workflow Foundation.
  • Enables complete access to a source code, thereby aiding you to customize any process and also a peek into logic.

Business users can easily use this platform to:

  • Build a flexible business in a way that will suit your taste and market demand and also a customizable platform.
  • Build businesses then has the potential to expand quickly in the global space by facilitating the creation of new online stores that can be launch in a few days instead of months.
  • Help business owners to market products in extensive ways with the use of different catalog and classifying product types.
  • Target customers with active content, incredible promotions and pricing.
  • Manage stores while making use of the intuitive and clean back-end system.


What is the meaning of Punchout?

PunchOut is a term used to describe a situation where customers gain access to their suppliers website through a PunchOut catalog that connects the customer e-procurement application to the suppliers site.

What is Virto Commerce?

Virto Commerce is a popular enterprise and a NET eCommerce platform that  provides deeply custom-made solutions for companies. Virto Commerce serves as a platform that offers all the mechanisms required to create, operate and thrive a successful e-commerce web store which will spread across multiple touch-points, regions and websites. Also, this platform enables manageable customization, extension and integration. This program has been built to be a perfect match for the Azure Cloud and also utilize all latest technologies:, .NET 4.5, WWF, MVC3, WPF, Entity Framework 5.

What item is referred to as a dropout item?

This is an item that was originally seen within the buyer's  e-procurement application that is connected to the supplier site, when the buyer decides to buy the product a request is sent through the procurement system for approval. When approved he initiates an order which then takes him to the supplier site for final purchase.

What are PunchOut vendors?

These are parties that provide e-commerce agencies, suppliers and organizations attractive PunchOut programs and catalogs for use, in some cases some form of long term partnership might be formed.

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Oleg Zhuk
Technical Product Owner