In today's modern procurement, punchout technology has become an essential innovation. However, many businesses, particularly hardware-centric and procurement-heavy companies, overlook the importance of punchouts in their purchasing process.

In this article, we will delve into the many benefits of using punchout integration, both as a buyer and a seller. We will explore how this technology can improve accuracy, save time and money, and streamline the purchasing process. We will also examine some major B2B companies that utilize punchout catalogs and highlight the features that make them stand out.

By the end of this article, you will have a clearer understanding of the importance of punchouts in modern procurement and how it can benefit your business.

Why is punchout technology beneficial?

There are several reasons why punchouts are an important integration into the modern purchasing system. Understanding why punchouts are valuable will help you appreciate the features of various catalog examples.

It’s convenient

A punchout integration can be very convenient. One reason for this is that procurement employees can access a supplier’s catalog without leaving their E procurement system. It’s essentially a hybrid between e-commerce for consumers and the regimented, approval-based world of B2B sales. Plus, it looks and feels like a traditional e-commerce site. For younger employees especially, this can be very reassuring.

It’s more accurate

Because using a punchout integration order does not require copying information from a paper catalog or a website into a purchasing system, this ordering method is generally more accurate. However, this effect doesn’t stop with the information copying. Instead, the catalog interchange format that’s typically used allows for prices and quantities to be updated in real-time.

It helps buyers save money

Likewise, punchout integration order technology helps businesses save money. In many cases, there will be a difference in price for certain items between one vendor and another. Additionally, there may be various discounts and other terms that make one approved vendor more advantageous than another.

This is helpful because a punchout integration encourages procurement employees to browse more than one e-commerce site to find the right item at the right price. They can do this without leaving the program, and they can add items to the requisition list for more than one vendor. 

Because shopping around is easy, employees are more likely to check multiple supplier options when applicable, saving employers money. Additionally, B2B companies with punchouts will post each client’s final price within their punchout access by using the catalog interchange format. This takes a lot of guesswork out of comparison shopping.

It’s more efficient

Punchout catalogs aren’t just beneficial for saving money and providing convenience. In fact, one of the more important benefits of a punchout integration is that both the buyer and seller can operate more efficiently. One reason for this is that the buyers system automatically gets the needed approvals to place an order, then does so automatically with the purchase order. This document is automatically fed into the suppliers fulfillment system.

Likewise, because a buyer can instantly see what the company has available, they don’t have to call sales all the time. While it’s sometimes necessary to do so anyway, placing fewer calls and asking fewer questions saves time and money on both sides. Plus, there are fewer problems with out of stock items and other complications from slow communication.

Companies get access to more potential customers

Finally, many large companies prefer suppliers who will let them place a punchout integration order. Punchouts have been built into more and more purchasing software types, and in many cases, businesses will only work with buyers that don’t have punchouts if there isn’t another option. One reason for this is convenience, but the other is a greater level of transparency and accountability than if the employees just use a corporate credit card on an e-commerce site.

Computer languages for punchout catalogs

There are two major computer languages used for punchout catalogs. Both use a form of catalog interchange format to send purchasing officer product choices to the buyer’s ordering system. CIF is a good way to send this information in machine-readable format because it forms a type of spreadsheet. That spreadsheet is read, then sent for approvals. Finally, the information from the CIF document is used to create the purchase order.

Before this information is sent to the procurement software, however, the buyer’s software must connect with the supplier’s product catalog. This is done using cXml or OCI, depending on the integration software vendor. The details on how this works is technical, but the important thing is to know which protocol your procurement software is using. Ideally, it should be able to handle both.

Punchout catalog examples

Finally, let’s look at some major B2B companies that use punchout catalogs. Many of these companies also work with consumers but will have a separate e-commerce site for them. Also, the features differ between sites, so it’s important to note the difference in how they operate when choosing a procurement software provider.

Amazon Business

First, let’s look at Amazon Business. One thing we love is that, unsurprisingly, punchout integrations are available for just about every P2P software. However, versatility isn’t the only advantage of the Amazon program. Instead, they’ve added electronic invoice reconciliation. This tool makes it much easier to match invoice items with approved purchases. It also shows procurement managers who authorized which purchases and who requested them. This way, if there are breaches of company policy is fairly easy to follow up. Finally, with Amazon’s punchout system, it’s easy to keep track of regulatory issues and analyze your spending. 

Staples Advantage

Similarly, Staples Advantage is their B2B purchasing program. Businesses that have an account at Staples can request access to their punchout catalog. This catalog is compatible with just about every E-procurement system currently in use. Using a Staples punchout, businesses get access to your rated products that help them perform better operationally. This product selection is also geared toward regulatory compliance so that procurement managers do not need to work as hard.

Because product choices are not always obvious, Staples has a product comparison tool within their punchout. This is really handy since you don’t always get such comprehensive features. Instead, many companies will have you contact the sales department if you’re unsure what you need.

Home Depot

Within home improvement and construction, Home Depot is one of the giants. For this reason, thousands of construction-related companies worldwide have one of their corporate accounts. If you’ve been to one of their stores lately, the chances are you see their corporate credit cards advertised. These can work well when staff needs to make small purchases on the spot, but most larger companies want more flexibility.

Partially because of their credit card program, Home Depot’s punchout catalog allows for multiple payment methods. In other words, it’s not set up exclusively for purchase orders. Likewise, you can have your order sent to a Home Depot store for pickup or delivery to your worksite, depending on your needs. 

Many companies require punchouts

Finally, while most B2B companies don’t put their punchout programs online for everyone to see, the majority of them do offer a punchout program. In addition, a growing number of businesses require your catalog to be available to an E-procurement system. One reason for this is convenience, but also E-procurement and other technologies help enterprises stay compliant.

We hope that this brief discussion of punchout catalog uses and examples will help you understand the importance of this technology. You should see that, while the terminology itself seems very confusing, it’s surprisingly simple. All you need to get started is a quality E-procurement system like ControlHub. Our technology is compatible with many vendor punchouts. And, for other suppliers, you can use different electronic technologies like APIs.

Contact us today for a free consultation.


Punchout technology is a vital innovation for modern procurement that many hardware-centric and procurement-heavy startups overlook. This technology is beneficial in various ways, including improving accuracy, saving time and money, and streamlining the purchasing process.

By integrating punchout catalogs into their purchasing systems, employees can access supplier catalogs without leaving their E-procurement system, making the process more convenient and accurate. Punchouts also encourage procurement employees to browse more than one e-commerce site to find the right item at the right price, helping businesses save money.

Additionally, punchout catalogs make the purchasing process more efficient by automating the approval process and order placement. Many large companies prefer to work with suppliers who offer punchout integration, making it an essential tool for businesses that want to expand their customer base.

There are two major computer languages used for punchout catalogs, and it's crucial to know which protocol your procurement software is using. This article examines some major B2B companies that use punchout catalogs and highlights the features that make them stand out, such as electronic invoice reconciliation, product comparison tools, and flexible payment methods.

In conclusion, integrating punchout catalogs into a business's purchasing system is essential to improve accuracy, save time and money, and streamline the procurement process.

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