Involving Sellers in Integrating Product Catalogs into eProcurement Systems

In our previous two articles (the first and the second), we emphasized the significance of providing sellers with a seamless and user-friendly invoicing service. This not only opens up new sales avenues with minimal effort on their part but also aims to cultivate loyal sellers who willingly embrace the system’s features. Instead of coercion, our approach is to demonstrate how easy and beneficial it is to use.

Take The Next Step To Integrate

The logical next step is to integrate their product catalogs into our system. It plays a critical role in unlocking the full potential of streamlined purchasing processes. Buyers are already keenly interested in this development, making it a win-win situation if our service simplifies this step.

Considering Integration Options:

1. Punch-out Integration:

This method involves a standardized and controlled data exchange mechanism that facilitates sharing and access to catalogs by external systems. It enables real-time synchronization of catalog data, ensuring consistency across platforms. 

While this option demands a one-time effort from sellers to support OCI or cXML standards, it offers seamless connectivity for all systems. It requires a separate article to discuss it in detail, and in this article I just want to emphasize that I am mostly talking about level 2 of punch-out integration because it is a unified search and shopping experience for buyer users compared to level 1 where users have to go through different punch-out catalogs separately. 

Of course, it is better than nothing and works well when users know exactly what and where they need to buy. But it can be frustrating when you need to search and filter products across all your vendors, compare prices, and find better shipping options. Providing this functionality saves procurement users a lot of time in the ordering process and is greatly appreciated.

2. Delegation:

In my experience, I’ve seen cases where sellers don’t have the resources to integrate and manage their catalogs in the eProcurement system. If these sellers are key sellers for a buyer to build its eProcurement, then the buyer can take responsibility for managing the data on behalf of the sellers. It is a kind of temporary delegation of rights from the seller to the buyer. It is a different story if they hire a company to do it or find their own resources. I mention this case to show that the eProcurement system can support it. Of course, it would be very welcome if this data could be managed without having to jump between different accounts. This means that the buyer can select a seller and manage his catalog in his own account. This is even more important if the buyer has several such sellers.

Another important thing is the ability for sellers to take back this responsibility. I have seen that some sellers have realized that it is an advantageous channel to sell their products not only to one buyer but to several buyers, and then they have decided to start managing the product catalog themselves. This is a great opportunity for everyone involved. Sellers are interested in growing their business by providing up-to-date information and selling more and more products. Buyers reduce their costs by managing these products on behalf of these sellers. The system gets more loyal customers, more transactions, and more money. This dynamic presents opportunities for mutual growth and cooperation.

3. Classic Integration:

We discussed this as the most popular case for integration here. I aim to avoid redundancy and instead, focus on sharing my insights into how the system can further pique sellers’ interest in product catalog integration once the invoice integration is successfully implemented.

Furthermore, this underscores the substantial benefits of this integration for sellers. To facilitate their engagement, we’ve devised a convenient solution: sellers can spontaneously generate a catalog from their invoice history without the need for any additional integration efforts. All they have to do is select an option, and the system seamlessly handles the conversion process. 

Sellers can review the catalog and make necessary adjustments within the user interface before presenting it as an offer to potential buyers.

Should sellers recognize the added value in this approach:

  • Buyers are more inclined to purchase additional products, expanding the catalog’s scope.
  • The catalog can be extended to other potential buyers, leading to increased orders.
  • It simplifies the invoicing process for sellers.

These tangible benefits foster greater loyalty among sellers, resulting in a more robust system.

Involving Sellers in Integrating Product Catalogs into eProcurement Systems schema

In the image above you can see some connectors in red. This means that some effort went into making them. Some connectors are green, which means no special effort. And even some vendors have come on board and built connectors themselves.

It becomes possible when:

  • You have fully integrated sellers and they find new channels on the network to sell products;
  • It is easy to connect and integrate with the system;
  • The network is already big enough and a new connection between two companies on the network can be made with one click.

You can imagine how the network will be boosted if the system provides the possibility to apply both roles in the same account for the same company and a seller can become a buyer and start buying products and continue selling products. As you can see in the image above, a seller has been given a buyer role and two new connections with other sellers have appeared.


Our overarching goal is to foster a growing network, ideally composed of loyal customers. Achieving this isn’t simple, and it requires dedicated attention and time, especially during the initial stages when the network expands slowly, one seller at a time. To expedite this growth, we emphasize involving partners and concentrating on system development over custom integrations. The key is to design the system in a way that effortlessly transforms each new connection into a loyal customer by simplifying processes and boosting sales. Avoiding unnecessary complications, such as the requirement for creating a new account for each connection, is crucial. By doing so, we anticipate that the network will not only become self-sustaining but also thrive, with or without additional efforts.

In conclusion, prioritize getting it right and nurturing the system’s growth. Take care!

Explore Previous eProcurement Articles:

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    Setronica is a software engineering company that provides a wide range of services, from software products to core business applications. We offer consulting, development, testing, infrastructure support, and cloud management services to enterprises. We apply the knowledge, skills, and Agile methodology of project management to integrate software development and business objectives effectively and efficiently.