According to industry forecasts, B2B eCommerce is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 18.7% from 2021 to 2028, reaching USD 25.65 trillion by 2028. As the global B2B eCommerce market looks to improve its online presence, PunchOut catalogs are becoming more prevalent.
A PunchOut catalog is an electronic catalog that allows buyers to order products and services from suppliers electronically. This process can save time and money for both the buyer and supplier.
But there seems to be some confusion about what they are and what they do. Some people seem to think that a PunchOut catalog is the same as a CIF catalog. While both of these catalogs have similarities, there are some key distinctions between them. Understanding these distinctions can help you manage the process more effectively.
- Types of eCatalogs – Is PunchOut Catalog The Same As CIF Catalog?
- 5 Determining Factors To Find Out The Difference Between PunchOut And CIF Catalog
- Which One Should B2B Businesses Use?
- VARStreet’s Solution For B2B Procurement Challenges Through PunchOut Integration
- Features Offered By VARStreet PunchOut Catalog Solution
- Streamline Procurement Process With VARStreet’s Integrated PunchOut Catalog Solution
Types of eCatalogs – Is PunchOut Catalog The Same As CIF Catalog?
eCatalogs continue to grow in popularity among B2B companies, and this trend is becoming even more prevalent with the introduction of mobile gadgets that deliver an even wider audience reach.
An eCatalog is a product range that the buyer has negotiated from the supplier. It forms an integral part of the eProcurement system. An eCatalog allows buyers to centralize all their suppliers in their eProcurement system while making it easy for the users to look up the products they need.
eCatalogs are classified into two categories, based on the complexity of the supplier’s business requirements:
1. CIF Catalogs or Hosted Catalogs
A CIF (Catalog Interchange Format) catalog or hosted catalog is a static catalog created by the supplier and hosted by the customer. Creating a CIF catalog is a straightforward process, requiring the supplier to integrate revenue data in a CSV file (for example, Excel) under a standard outline header, line data, and trailer standards.
Hosted catalogs provide the advantage of ensuring stable prices in the system, allowing buyers to compare trends from one year’s catalog to the next. This makes them more suitable for strategic purchasing.
2. PunchOut Catalogs
PunchOut is a universally accepted electronic protocol for connecting buyer’s eProcurement software to supplier’s storefronts. PunchOut catalogs have specific requirements that make purchasing simple and have controls that directly connect the procurement systems.
Unlike traditional catalogs, PunchOut catalogs operate by integrating eProcurement with eCommerce platforms. PunchOuts are primarily based on cXML, a document standard language that allows procurement systems users to connect with eCommerce websites directly.
When the cXML purchase order is received, the order is translated into the supplier’s order management system. Many systems directly import this order and send an email notification letting everyone know the order has been received.
This makes PunchOuts better suited to non-strategic eCommerce scenarios where suppliers need to have a basic eCommerce website which buyers can configure and order from.
5 Determining Factors To Find Out The Difference Between PunchOut And CIF Catalog
In general, both catalogs offer an overview of products and allow sellers and organizations to showcase their inventory through procurement applications. However, there is a big difference in the way these two catalogs approach the goal of product information exchange.
Following are the 5 factors that can help you determine how different PunchOut is from the CIF catalog.
1. The Creation Process
Despite automation taking over B2B eCommerce, manual processing is still prevalent in some business solutions such as CIF catalogs.
- A CIF catalog file must be changed to various formats before it can be linked to different procurement software.
- Additionally, it is tiresome to manage several contracts, so generating and maintaining separate CIF catalogs is necessary.
- With PunchOut, it’s much simpler for suppliers to handle the buyers with a singular master catalog that can be integrated into any eProcurement platform.
- Suppliers can set up multiple PunchOuts linked to different procurement systems from the same store.
2. Modification Process
Both electronic catalogs allow modifications but to what extent? The difference lies in the flexibility offered by both the catalogs:
- Updating the CIF catalog takes time and is one of the most time-consuming tasks for vendors. Companies report that creating intricate changes in the CIF catalog is inconvenient.
- Every time you delete/add a product or change its price tag, the catalog has to be created from scratch.
- In addition, the customer has to load and update the CIF catalog in his procurement system to measure these changes.
- PunchOut catalogs have a straightforward user interface. It is easy to edit product images, prices, and other aspects.
- With automation, the suppliers don’t need to perform complicated back-end tasks while editing the PunchOut catalog.
- Buyers can also track changes in real-time, allowing them to make changes and see the results immediately.
- Suppliers can see which products are being viewed the most. This allows them to decide if products need to be updated or removed.
3. Product Display Process
With electronic catalogs, eProcurement systems can provide easy access to product information. With PunchOuts, showcasing products has changed:
- CIF catalogs are also called line item catalogs since products can only be displayed as inline data. The CIF catalog, therefore, limits the supplier’s ability to represent the products.
- With only the option to present simple products, there is no provision for displaying product configurations.
- PunchOut catalogs allow product configurations during purchases. This allows the suppliers to define configuration rules so that they can display some of the most complex products.
- An organization displaying modular/configurable products must have a PunchOut-ready website.
4. Product Marketing & Promotion Capabilities
More than half of customers don’t prefer talking with sales representatives. They prefer online research which means the more marketing capability and visibility, the greater the chances of retaining a buyer.
- Products in the CIF catalog can only be displayed as lists, so promoting them effectively to buyers is severely limited. Simply put, product marketing suffers when using a CIF catalog.
- As there is very little room for product descriptions in the CIF catalog, you have no opportunity to market your products.
- PunchOut catalogs are graphic-intensive, which provides ample opportunities to advertise your products and increase your brand’s awareness.
- Suppliers have plenty of room to describe a product, allowing them to write persuasive descriptions and effectively market products.
- With PunchOuts, suppliers can expand on a product’s description. A good product description leads to more sales.
5. Upsell and Cross-Sell Process
If you’re looking to increase your sales, it is not enough to attract new customers or keep your existing ones happy. You need to convince current customers to spend more with your company. This is where upselling and cross-selling come in handy.
Can suppliers exchange data between the two catalogs when upselling and cross-selling?
- CIF does not offer upsells or cross-sells, so it has no potential to increase Average Order Value (AOV).
- CIF does not support displaying additional products.
- Suppliers can use PunchOut’s upselling and cross-selling features to maximize revenue. This leads to increased sales as suppliers can sell complementary products and accessories once the original transaction is complete.
- Suppliers can announce special promotions in PunchOut’s catalog to increase brand awareness. This makes it easy to communicate about special deals and offers.
Which One Should B2B Businesses Use?
CIF files are the most effective way to share catalogs with suppliers that sell the same widget or provide the same service for a long time. In a catalog with fewer than 1000 items, a CIF file offers easy management, electronic communication, and is relatively small. Plus, Suppliers should know how to use Excel or another compatible file format that can be used to provide catalog data.
But, if the catalog contains items that require configuration, are large, change more than once a year, or involve a large amount of change, the limitations of the CIF catalog will become problematic.
A catalog of static information, fixed pricing, and the inability to tailor to market needs is restrictive and counter to eProcurement in today’s global economy with nimble suppliers, mass customization, and commodity pricing.
This is where the PunchOut catalog solution comes in. PunchOut catalogs offer suppliers the ability to present the eCommerce application that best suits the product offering to their customers in real-time.
As a result, it’s an application whose purpose is to provide the supplier’s enriched product data and a user experience that best suits the customer’s needs, display configurable products, offer pickup quotes, and eventually retain customers for longer.
So, it’s a win-win for both the customers and the suppliers.
VARStreet’s Solution For B2B Procurement Challenges Through PunchOut Integration
Creating a PunchOut Catalog from scratch is a tiring task. To start selling online, suppliers need to develop an eCommerce site, which consists of catalogs with categories, explanatory descriptions, detailed specifications, collateral information, prices, and images.
And then comes the challenging process of enabling the website to support the PunchOut protocol and testing it with every electronic procurement system used by the buyers.
With VARStreet, PunchOut catalogs are very easy to set up. Depending on the agreement on the commercials, VARStreet will either work directly with the supplier’s customers to understand the requirements and set up the PunchOut implementation or work according to the documentation provided by the customers.
PunchOut is then put into the QA environment for customer testing. If the test goes well, it is quickly moved into production. All of this takes approximately a week.
Features Offered By VARStreet PunchOut Catalog Solution
You run an independent Value-Added IT Reseller business. You already carry a lot of the features that your competitors offer on their PunchOut catalogs. To be more visible, you need those additional features to meet the needs of large B2B buyers. That’s why VARStreet integrated its PunchOut catalog solution with rich additional features, including:
1. Punchout And Roundtrip Ready VAR Stores
VARStreet’s PunchOut catalog solution allows a full round trip between the supplier’s stores and the customers’ eProcurement application.
2. Pre-configured Stores
Suppliers get a pre-configured store with products and prices as specified in the agreement. The supplier will provide all of the necessary login information, and the business can begin ordering products immediately.
3. Single Sign-On (SSO) Enabled PunchOut Store
Single Sign-On makes it easy to access each site with one set of credentials. SSO enables the store’s price and catalog to be configured for user login. This means a supplier can have multiple customers using PunchOut, even with different procurement systems in the same store.
4. Configurable Landing Pages
VARStreet supports landing page configuration by logins. Suppliers can customize the store’s look and feel depending on the customer and give the larger ones a highly personalized and special experience.
5. Reliable Customer Support
VARStreet not only sells PunchOut ready eCommerce stores but practically becomes the customer’s technical arm. A team of highly skilled engineers who understand PunchOut very well ensures diverse support and customizations.
Streamline Procurement Process With VARStreet’s Integrated PunchOut Catalog Solution
Procurement departments use several databases to perform online product research, such as electronic catalogs. Streamlining this process would help save companies time and money.
The PunchOut integration with VARStreet gives your procurement department the ability to integrate well-known eProcurement systems into the PunchOut toolset seamlessly.
VARStreet provides a proven PunchOut catalog solution that is transformational for procurement processes. The solution simplifies the supply chain by reducing order cycle times and providing better access to information to support activities such as market expansion, demand planning, product differentiation, customer service, and forecasting.
No matter which PunchOut Catalog solution you choose, VARStreet provides an enterprise-class solution to streamline your procurement process. Get Started with the free trial today.