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PunchOut vs Hosted Catalog: The Definitive Comparison Guide

Punch Out vs Hosted Catalog: What are the differences and advantages of each? Most importantly, which is right for your business? Learn more.


The demands of modern electronic procurement, especially in the post-pandemic world, are increasingly complex. Buyers are continuing to implement and adopt new technology, and there is more pressure than ever for suppliers to support digital channels.

A large part of meeting a buyer’s request in today’s procurement space means deciding between PunchOut catalogs or hosted catalogs. Depending on the business needs, there are pros and cons to offering each product catalog type.

Knowing whether to offer a PunchOut catalog or hosted catalog can give your business the competitive advantage to grow revenue through your eCommerce store and strengthen the relationship between trading partners.

What Are Hosted Catalogs?

Also referred to as an e-catalog or static catalog, a hosted catalog offers basic information about product names, descriptions and prices. This static file is uploaded and stored in the customer’s procurement system.

Important considerations for hosted catalogs are:

  • While the static nature of hosted catalogs is efficient for small lists with limited inventory, there are significant limitations for larger product lists – especially ones that contain hundreds or thousands of products.
  • This catalog type offers no real-time information on stock levels, back-up inventory or availability status on the supplier’s website.
  • Search requests often lack efficiency and/or accuracy in finding specific products, often forcing customers to manually look up prices and other data through external searches which can be time-consuming.
  • Hosted files are typically outdated the minute they’re uploaded as products and pricing change, the file doesn’t.

Despite the limitations of hosted catalogs, they still serve a purpose in digital purchasing for industry-specific scenarios.

However, it’s important to understand how other types of catalogs, like PunchOut catalogs, can be useful and provide more efficiency for buyer and supplier users.

What Are PunchOut Catalogs?

A PunchOut catalog, enables real-time product, pricing and availability information to buyers. PunchOut technology integrates procurement systems directly with a supplier’s eCommerce website, allowing a contact at a buyer company to search and browse an interface that is customized with their negotiated pricing.

A PunchOut catalog also has its own considerations in the eProcurement space, including:

  • The ability to save time by offering real-time updates such as price, stock levels and other critical data that customers need to know for their purchases. Rather than having a static product list that must be manually uploaded into procurement systems, updates happen directly on the supplier’s websites, giving both parties more control throughout the buying process.
  • Some PunchOut systems offer additional technical documentation, such as delivery notes and invoices.
  • Leveraging a suppliers site for punchout allows them to offer search and browsing experience suitable to their products as well as the ability to save personal lists of frequently ordered products.

Choosing Between Hosted or PunchOut Catalogs

punchout vs hosted catalog

Whether you are a buyer or a supplier looking to improve your purchasing processes, both hosted catalogs and PunchOut catalogs have benefits. But how do companies decide which is the best fit?

Questions to Ask

Here are some helpful questions to consider:

  • Is it important to have real-time access to any changes to products or pricing?
  • How impactful is controlling a specific category of spend to my organization?
  • Do you need to provide special offers as well as special quotes and processes?

Static catalogs may seem easier for the customer to use, but they require some level of maintenance on the buyer side. After the supplier initially uploads the catalog to the buyer’s procurement system, the buyer has to take on admin rights to accept, approve and publish the catalog to their users. In some cases, there are even checks and balances put in to validate pricing and price deltas before a catalog can be made visible to all users at a buyer’s company.

PunchOut catalogs are often seen as the modern option for B2B companies – making the overall shopping process more seamless and less taxing on the buyer as the maintenance falls on the supplier.

Although both types of catalogs offer more control for buyers, hosted catalogs are more of a challenge for vendors to keep updated with critical product information. It’s also often more difficult for buyers to search.

Important Considerations for Your Business

What Suppliers Should Consider

As the procurement space continues to evolve and customers search more online, it can be difficult to know which catalog type is right for your procurement system, especially if you plan to scale your eProcurement process.

In a rapidly revolving space such as digital commerce, suppliers often must evaluate which catalog route will best serve their needs both today and tomorrow.

Will what works today still be the best solution a year from now? Is it best to modernize to a PunchOut system or maintain a large static catalog?

The cost and complexity of PunchOut may seem daunting, but in the end, maintaining one eCommerce site is easier than trying to control hundreds of individual static catalogs.

What Buyers Should Consider

When you need to make a purchase, it’s critical to know that the price points and inventory are up-to-date. Especially for buyers with high volume of direct spend, getting the right inventory is critical.

Despite its necessity, the buying process can be manual, tedious and require significant administrative work. That’s why many buyers prefer to purchase from suppliers who are able to support buying that can be done directly within the procurement system.

Rather than taking a shot in the dark and hoping for the best, partnering with vendors who offer PunchOut can make the difference between on-time and unavailable.

PunchOut Catalogs Are the Future of B2B Transactions

PunchOut catalogs are a better fit for the purchasing process – especially if you sell or need to buy complex service-oriented products.

Additionally, if you have large catalogs with thousands of SKUs and line items or customized items; products that require regular updates on price, description, and availability; or have a high number of transactions, a PunchOut catalog is the best route.

PunchOut catalogs are the future of transactions between an eProcurement system and eCommerce system.

Contact Us

If you’re interested in implementing connected commerce solution like PunchOut, Purchase Order Automation or Invoice Automation, contact us to see how we handle the complexities of the set up and maintenance processes.

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