What is a supplier catalog and what purpose does it serve?

Catalogs, as we will see in the definition below, are resources that increase the efficiency of the procurement process.

Sourcing teams are able to search quickly through a database for the particular items they require without needing to type out a host of purchase requisition details before viewing desired goods.

They are extremely useful tools that are created by vendors and sent to buyers seeking more information about products and or services offered by a supplier.

Supplier Catalog Defined

A catalog is defined by the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) as:

…a list of items for sale that often contains descriptions, pictures, prices, and availability.”

A supplier catalog, also known as a vendor catalog or a procurement catalog is, therefore, a resource issued by a vendor that provides information such as:

  • Produce name
  • Service name
  • Product/service description
  • Hierarchy
  • Product/service prices
  • Internal codes

Thanks to technology, electronic catalogs (e-catalogs) are now a common element in discussions between vendors and buyers.

What is Supplier Catalog Management?

With so much data being presented to buyers, vendors have a responsibility to ensure clients can easily find what they are looking for and can procure the best quality products in the quantities they desire.

This process whereby vendors make sure product catalogs are up-to-date with information that is presented in a structured and organized form is referred to as catalog management.

Suppliers are encouraged to routinely go through their catalogs and verify that the information is still relevant.

But why should they do this?

Well, simply because failure to update catalogs can lead to invoices that don’t match the purchase order. And this will most likely lead to delays in payment.

What is the Purpose of a Supplier Catalog?

The major objective of a supplier catalog is to facilitate sourcing in the supply chain and procurement of goods and services that are often required on a regular basis.

These guides are also useful when procurement teams must source products that are perhaps rare and valuable.

Types of Supplier Catalog

There are two major types of catalogs that exist. These are internal and external supplier catalogs.  Let’s take a closer look at each catalog type and see what distinguishes one from the other.

Internal Catalogs

This particular group of catalogs is unique because the procurement team is the one in charge of handling it. If it’s not the procurement team, it’s someone else who is within the business who manages it hence the name internal.

Before enterprises take upon themselves the roles of managing catalogs it’s always a good idea to assess whether or not they will be able to keep up with the work of making sure the catalogs are kept up-to-date.

If not, it might be wiser to let the supplier handle it as an external catalog.

External Catalogs

External catalogs are so-called because they are the responsibility of an outside party, typically the vendor who manages the catalog on behalf of the buyer.

Within the rank of the external catalog are two forms of catalog:

1. Vendor self-managed catalogs and,

2. Punch out catalogs.

What distinguishes these two external catalog types are the following traits:

· Vendor managed catalogs are hosted within the buyer’s purchasing system but access is granted to the vendor so they can effectively maintain the catalog.

· While punchout catalogs make it possible for the buyer to gain access to the vendor’s website through the buyer’s own procurement software. 


A supplier catalog is such an integral part and parcel of sourcing and procurement. It provides sourcing teams with the right information needed to make purchasing decisions.

Because the best procurement teams are always on the lookout for ways to reduce spending, improve efficiency, and streamline operations, e-catalogs become the perfect resources when creating purchase requisition and purchase orders.

There is no need to go back and forth between vendors asking the price and specifications of various products as everything is detailed within these catalogs.

E-catalogs are wonderful, but what’s even better is complementing their use with procurement software that makes doing business easier.

ProcurePort prides itself as one of the leading providers of the best procurement solutions on the market and is trusted by enterprises and organizations such as UNOPS, HUD.GOV, and conEdison.

If you would like to discuss procurement software with a consultant, or to schedule a demo, contact us today.