PunchOut catalog, also referred to as level 1 PunchOut catalog is a protocol implemented to ease the purchasing process of B2B customers that include large corporates and government agencies. B2B customers commonly use a procurement system to manage their ordering process. The PunchOut protocol allows direct access to the supplier’s site from within the customer’s procurement system. Using the protocol, any buyer can automatically log into his specific product catalog with a single click.
‘PunchOut catalog’, the protocol no doubt offers several advantages but is not convenient when a B2B customer is connected to multiple suppliers via PunchOut. This is because every time the customer has to purchase a product, it becomes imperative to wade through various PunchOut catalogs in order to locate that specific product. This can be tedious and annoying particularly when the customer has to do it often. A better alternative is to switch to level 2 PunchOut catalog.
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1. Level 2 PunchOut Catalog
Consider this: A B2B customer is connected to 5 suppliers via PunchOut. Each supplier is providing his own pre-approved PunchOut catalog to the customers. When the customer wants to order a product, he has no idea which catalog to search. Now, instead of browsing through multiple catalogs to access that product, why not make the product available in the search results of the procurement application. This is what precisely achieved via Level 2 PunchOut.
Level 2 PunchOut functionality combines CIF catalog index file of products with PunchOut website. This index file is now accessible via procurement system’s search function to find products. Level 2 PunchOut allows suppliers to make their product catalog searchable within the procurement system’s search tool. The search functionality of the procurement system can be used to directly access a product present in that specific supplier catalog.
When customers search for a product in their procurement system, the search results show the list of suppliers having that specific product. Search results return the URL, the location of the product in the supplier catalog. Upon clicking the link, the customer is directly taken to the product details page present in the supplier’s PunchOut catalog.
2. Search Feature in Level 2 PunchOut
Depending upon the search functionality offered by level 2 PunchOut, the customer can access any specific area in the supplier catalog. It can be either shelf, aisle or item. It is discussed below:
3. Product Level PunchOut
Product-level PunchOut allows customers to access specific products (items) through the procurement system’s search function. Thus with product level search, customers can directly reach the product details page of the supplier catalog. For instance, if you search for ‘laptops with 8 GB RAM’, the search results will display all the list of suppliers who sell the given product. Clicking on any product link will enable customers to directly connect with the PunchOut site of that specific supplier.
4. Aisle Level PunchOut
Aisle-level PunchOut enables customers to access a specific product category via the search functionality of the procurement application. Thus with aisle level search, the customer is directed to a specific product category page of supplier catalog. For instance, when you type ‘IT Product Accessories’, the result will show all the list of suppliers having IT product accessories.
5. Shelf Level PunchOut
Shelf-level PunchOut enables customers to access a particular sub-category via the procurement system’s search tool. With shelf level search, the B2B customer is directed to a specific product sub-category page of supplier catalog. For instance, when you type ‘Monitor Accessories’, the result will return all the list of suppliers having monitor accessories. Clicking on any link will allow you to reach sub-category page of that supplier.
6. Store Level PunchOut
Store level PunchOut will enable customer to access the PunchOut catalog (site) of any supplier. So when the B2B customer is connected to multiple suppliers via PunchOut, store level search will direct customer to a supplier’s specific PunchOut catalog home page. However, upon accessing that specific PunchOut catalog, the customer will have to search the product by entering the search criteria.
7. Level 1 PunchOut Vs Level 2 PunchOut
With level 2 PunchOut catalog, the customer can use the search capability of the procurement system to search products in the supplier catalog. On the other hand, in level 1 PunchOut, only the search functionality of the PunchOut catalog is available and not the procurement system.
In level 1 PunchOut, the customer has to specifically start a PunchOut session in order to view products from the supplier catalog. Whereas in level 2 PunchOut, the customer can view products even without initiating PunchOut session. The products are visible in the search results of the procurement system.