PunchOut Ordering vs. eCommerce Marketplaces: A Comparison Guide

What is the difference between PunchOut and eCommerce Marketplaces?

With so many digital procurement options available to the modern consumer today, how do you know which one is right for you and your organization’s supply obtainment needs? Two of the most popular forms of eProcurement are PunchOut and eCommerce Marketplaces. But what makes them so different?

PunchOut is a mechanism that entails the eProcurement application making it possible for buyers to access their chosen supplier’s website through the buyer’s own procurement portal. During their procurement process, the buyer leaves their supplier’s procurement application and enters their personal digital catalog. Then, the buyer can browse the supplier’s PunchOut catalog while adding chosen supplies to their digital shopping cart. The supplier is not notified of any new orders when the buyer checks out from the PunchOut catalog, instead the shopping cart moves with the buyer back to the original eProcurement application. Finally, once the buyer has finalized their cart and added the line items to a purchase order, their order is submitted to the supplier, and a completed purchase order is automatically generated.

In simple terms, a PunchOut catalog is a way for people to cut out a few steps in the procurement process by auto-generating a purchase order without the back and forth with the vendor. It’s a technology that used to be cutting edge, but now has modern competition when it comes to streamlining supply purchasing.

“In small startups where the experiment design is dictated by the supplies and the instruments that you use, a lot of time is spent on purchasing and a lot of that time is spent on the minutiae of purchasing — reviewing the range of supplies, making considered judgments about this versus that; it often means looking at spec sheets. It's a process that hasn't changed in the 30+ years I've been doing this. It's really the most refractory to change.” Stan Lapidus, Founder/Entrepreneur, on the THIS IS ZAGENO podcast.

An e-commerce marketplace is an example of an eProcurement website where buyers can browse products from multiple vendors on the same platform. The marketplace host attracts buyers and processes transactions while the individual third party vendors are responsible for manufacturing and shipping. In an eCommerce marketplace, products are streamlined through a single portal, directly to buyers and therefore bypassing the holding process.

Lab managers can still complete the supply approval process of typical procurement in addition to the perks of the Amazon-like shopping experience today’s consumer expects.

Comparison Chart:
PunchOut vs e-Commerce Marketplace


Pros of PunchOut


Cons of PunchOut

1. A higher retention rate between businesses and their prominent buyers 1. It can be difficult to compare products between different vendors
2. Decrease in integration time 2. Each vendor requires a separate PunchOut catalog
3. The technology is available to vendors and buyers 24/7 3. The possibility for human error exists in the manual completion of purchase orders
4. PunchOut technology remembers buyers, quickening the procurement process 4. Limited/unsophisticated search feature, making lab supply research and purchasing time-consuming
5. The elimination of manual order entry lowers the cost to fulfill buyer orders 5. Prone to glitches, pricing inconsistencies, and delays in updating information




Pros of e-Commerce Marketplaces


Cons of e-Commerce Marketplaces

1. Product comparison between vendors is easily attainable 1. The access to so many vendors can cause price competition, which serves the buyer but in turn generates lower profits for vendors and the digital marketplace as a whole
2. Buyers are able to make more educated procurement decisions based on the accessibility of multiple vendors 2. Marketplaces cannot control the quality of products or shipping speed established by vendors
3. Buyers are exposed to far more product options than when they procure products through individual vendor platforms
4. Products continuously have their shipping and availability options updated by the marketplace host, giving the most up-to-date and accurate info


PunchOut and eCommerce marketplaces are both options for completing digital procurement for those purchasing products in bulk online. For scientists, researchers, and lab managers, the supply ordering process can be extremely time consuming. You don’t have time to be trying the same item name in several different ways to show a result. eCommerce marketplaces for lab supplies improve efficiency and bring purchasing up to speed, finally matching today’s shopping experience and decreasing time to research milestones. Get out there and spend your precious time researching and getting results, not watching your eProcurement system crash before your eyes.

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