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What Is a Level 2 PunchOut Catalog?

Learn the differences between Level 1 and Level 2 PunchOut catalogs and how they help buyers to streamline procurement by optimizing their organization’s marketplace, and help sellers to increase visibility and B2B sales.

TradeCentric

TradeCentric integrates eProcurement platforms with eCommerce stores to enable PunchOut catalog purchasing and many other forms of B2B automation. PunchOut Catalog integrations allow B2B buyers to select a seller from within an eProcurement platform such as Coupa or Jaggaer and “punch out” direct to the supplier’s webstore in order to shop for contracted products at negotiated prices for their company.

eProcurement platforms support PunchOut capabilities in different ways, and one of the most significant differences is between Level 1 and Level 2 PunchOut Catalogs. In this article, we’re going to explore those differences and their impact on the B2B buyer’s procurement experience.

PunchOut Catalog Basics

PunchOut Catalog integration facilitates the exchange of order and related data between eCommerce stores and eProcurement platforms. There are two phases to the PunchOut process:

  1. The eProcurement user chooses an approved supplier in their platform and, when they punch out, they are redirected to the supplier’s store. They are automatically authenticated and can use the eCommerce store as usual, selecting products and adding to their shopping cart.
  2. When they have finished shopping, instead of the usual check-out process, the shopping cart data is sent back to their eProcurement platform, and a requisition order is created.

The PunchOut process is made possible by integrating the two business systems involved in the transaction: the eCommerce store and the eProcurement platform. TradeCentric provides an integration layer that allows otherwise incompatible and disconnected business systems to exchange data securely.

All PunchOut catalogs follow this basic scheme,  but they differ in the information that appears in the first phase, before the user punches out of their eProcurement platform.

Level 1 PunchOut Catalogs

A Level 1 PunchOut catalog is accessed by the buyer on their eProcurement system’s homepage. Pre-approved suppliers will have a logo in the PunchOut Catalog section on the homepage within their eProcurement system. The buyer selects a supplier’s logo and is authenticated into the supplier’s eCommerce storefront. They are taken to the home page, and from there, the buyer can search and browse products. The majority of eProcurement platforms support this type of PunchOut workflow.

Level 2 PunchOut Catalogs

Level 2 PunchOut, also referred to as Level II, combines a PunchOut webstore with a CIF (Catalog Interchange Format) catalog for SAP Ariba or csv catalog file for Jaggaer. Both types of catalogs files add an extra layer of functionality within the eProcurement system’s marketplace search, integrating catalog data directly into the platform’s interface and allowing products within the PunchOut catalog to become searchable.

The CIF catalog format, which was first introduced by Ariba in 1996, is a standardized electronic catalog format for exchanging product information between digital platforms. The supplier’s eCommerce team generates a CIF/flat file catalog with product entries that include a link to the item on the store. Product information is displayed and can be searched within the eProcurement platform, and the link is used to direct the user to the product when they punch out.

Level 2 catalog files as they were used in the past have limitations, which include a lack of real-time updates, simple products requiring no configuration, and limited attributes on product information. But, when combined with a PunchOut webstore with up-to-date pricing and availability information, they provide a mechanism for substantially enhancing the eProcurement experience.

With a Level 2 PunchOut Catalog, the buyer can search within the eProcurement marketplace and view basic product information before they punch out to the eCommerce store. Instead of seeing a price listed in the search, the end user will see “PunchOut to view price”. When the end user punches out, they are taken directly to the product page within the vendor’s eCommerce PunchOut catalog to add the product to their shopping cart or to find additional details that might have been limited within the eProcurement system such as additional attribute details, material safety data sheets (MSDS), warranty information, instructions, or product configurations.

Level 2 PunchOut catalogs are not compatible with every eProcurement platform, but they are supported by several of the most widely used, including SAP Ariba and Jaggaer. The TradeCentric iPaaS supports Level 2 PunchOut for any compatible eProcurement platform.

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What are the Benefits of Level 2 PunchOut Catalogs?

The main benefits of Level 2 PunchOut catalogs are the searchability of products within the eProcurement marketplace, visibility of multiple suppliers’ products, the transfer of cart data from the eCommerce store to the eProcurement platform, and the automatic creation of a requisition order.

PunchOut catalogs give buyers easy access to approved sellers, and they give sellers exposure within their customers’ eProcurement platform.

Level 2 PunchOut catalogs enhance visibility by adding PunchOut catalog-related products to the mix. Buyers can search for products across multiple sellers without punching out to several different eCommerce stores. All of the approved products are easily accessible, and selecting them takes the buyer immediately to the product they are interested in.

In short, Level 2 PunchOut catalogs give buyers the ability to search and view products from within their eProcurement system instead of punching out to each vendor’s website in order to search, providing a more “amazon-like” shopping experience.

What are the Disadvantages of Level 2?

Level 2 PunchOut catalogs are a valuable enhancement of the eProcurement experience, but there are limitations. They require manual catalog file creation for each vendor and an approval process by the buyer and their eProcurement system. While this requires additional time and resources, there’s still an opportunity to enhance the end user experience within a marketplace, driving users to PunchOut catalog enabled eCommerce technology, especially when there is competition that cannot such a polished experience.

For buyers, though there is additional work and effort to align with vendor catalog files, end users will save time and enjoy an easier purchasing experience, while buying organizations will have an effective marketplace, without many of the gaps that might exist between hosted catalog vendors and PunchOut catalog vendors.

Beyond PunchOut Catalogs

TradeCentric supports many procurement automation features in addition to Level 1 and Level 2 PunchOut catalogs.

These include:

  • Purchase order automation — When a requisition order is approved in the buyer’s eProcurement platform, TradeCentric can automatically route the  purchase order in the seller’s eCommerce store and back end order management system.
  • eInvoicing — The TradeCentric iPaaS supports the exchange of electronic invoices for fast and error-free invoicing.
  • eQuotes — Sellers can create quotes for orders made via their eCommerce store. Buyers can then transfer the quotes to their eProcurement platform to continue the procurement process.

All vendors using TradeCentric are able to support Level 2 PunchOut catalogs. TradeCentric has enabled Level 2 for vendors that could, for instance, support Level 1 PunchOut  on their own, but not Level 2 without a substantial investment in custom development. TradeCentric accommodates their unique needs and enhances their capabilities.

If you need help supporting Level 2 PunchOut functionality or have any questions about PunchOut Catalogs, procurement integration, or B2B sales order automation, contact us below.

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