A PunchOut Catalog, more accurately referred to as a PunchOut Website, is a technique for a corporate purchasing agent to purchase from a supplier’s website from within the buyer’s own procurement application or hosted eprocurement system.

A PunchOut website is really a standard ecommerce website using the special capacity to communicate directly with a procurement system through cXML and return a pending purchase order returning to the buyer so they don’t must enter product information within the procurement system.

To understand a PunchOut, it’s vital that you understand modern procurement systems and where punchout catalog fits in the picture. With traditional procurement systems, supplier catalog items could be entered inside the procurement system each time a purchase order was being created or even the item will be located in the procurement system master catalog and included in the purchase order. Over time, procurement systems gained the ability to import supplier catalogs directly into the procurement system. The buying organization, often the purchasing department, had the responsibility to get into the catalog information, convert it from one electronic form to another one, and keep costs.

After their founding in 1996, Ariba® introduced the Catalog Interchange Format (CIF); this standardized electronic file format for supplier catalogs eliminated the necessity for buyers to manually enter item information or convert files in one format to another. Through the CIF standard, suppliers could easily publish catalogs and buyers could easily import them. As opposed to concentrating on mundane catalog management, purchasing departments could allocate additional time on spend management.

The Catalog Interchange Format is perfect for catalogs that infrequently change. If a supplier sells a widget or performs a service that stays the identical for a long period of time, a CIF file is the best way to communicate catalogs under one thousand items. In this particular global economy with nimble suppliers, mass customization, and commodity pricing, a catalog of static information, fixed pricing, and the inability to customize is a problem.

In the consumer world, the solution to some static product catalog, and in many cases its replacement, is the ecommerce website. To get a corporate purchasing agent working inside a procurement system or hosted eprocurement website, accessing another supplier website isn’t possible. Even though it were possible, there was clearly no standard method to automatically enter the item information through the website to the procurement system.

In many cases a static catalog and the lack of ability to exchange information with the ecommerce website reintroduces significant benefit the purchasing department. To address this problem, a digital aniwag interchange standard called the Commerce eXtensible Markup Language (cXML) and PunchOut concept was introduced by the cxml.org industry consortium.

Through cXML and also the PunchOut mechanism, buyers can access a supplier’s PunchOut-enabled ecommerce website, be automatically logged in, search the catalog, configure items, add these to the shopping cart, and return the cart as being a pending purchase order returning to the procurement system. In a nutshell a PunchOut website is a standard ecommerce website with all the special capability to communicate directly using a procurement system through cXML and return a pending purchase order back to the purchaser therefore they don’t have to enter product information within the procurement system.

In which a CIF catalog is static, punchout is a dynamic product as well as a service catalog is dynamic platform permitting current information, product configuration, and real-time price and availability.