Canadian Electrical Wholesaler

May 9, 2019

David GordonBy David Gordon

In the words of an Amazon and MRO analyst, eCommerce is more than “click and ship.” eCommerce is about a methodology and a mindset to do business more electronically. In fact, the commerce element can be very diversified, especially for medium to large MRO buyers.

Consider Amazon Business, Grainger and MSC. Both Grainger and MSC report that over 40% of their business is handled electronically through direct connections… typically what are called “punchouts” and via EDI. Amazon Business, recognizing the need to integrate with corporate America procurement systems, has written the translations necessary to integrate with 50+ eProcurement systems.

What companies are considered eProcurement systems?

Amazon Business integrates with Adelpo, Acquiire-Vinimaya, Ariba, Ariett, Bellwether-BPM, Bellwether-ePMX, BirshStreet, Bookbyte, 8-Pack, BuyerQUest, catalog360, Coupa, Elcom, Epicor, ePlus, epaxios, EqualLevel, eRequester, ESM Solutions, ExpenseWatch, Hubwoo, Infor, ISS-iPurchase, Ivalua, JAGGAER, OpusCapita, MikroFax, Oncare, Onventis TradeCore, Oracle Fusion, Oracle iProcure, Oracle Supplier Network, Payback, PeopleSoft, Perfect Commerce, Pint Systems, Pool4Tool, Proactis, ReQlogic, SAP-SRM, SDI, Skyward, SMARTbyGEP, Sollod Technologies, Spectrum, SpendBoss, SpendBridge, SpendMap, Tyler-Munis, Unimarket, Verian, VITG Global, Vroozi and Workday… so far

That’s 54, and you can be confident that there are more. Some cover any industry, others are vertical specific, but these are names that your sales organization should listen for… and maybe ask your industrial and institutional customers, “What procurement system does your company use?”

What is a punchout?

To simply describe it, it is a process where customers order directly through their procurement system, gain the product information they need, and then get their internal approvals so the order can be completed. It’s as close to a direct connection with you that an industrial or institutional account can get, and it’s the preferred way for large companies to conduct business.

Additionally, when companies are electronically integrated / linked it is

• more difficult for them to disconnect from you
• makes it easier for their people to conduct business with you… for all of their needs
• shows joint commitment to doing business, which results in increased business

Consider, this is one of Grainger’s biggest strengths, one of the reasons they have better margins than most distributors, and one of the reasons they’ve been able to fend off Amazon Business.

Many industrially oriented distributors have used punchouts for a while, albeit most only have a few connections. The reason for the limited usage is

• few customers have asked; hence distributors implement this reluctantly and only as a defensive move
• they may implement in-house, so it is a burden on IT, or use an outside consultant recommended by their ERP company, hence it’s expensive
• salespeople don’t understand the terminology, nor can they see the order, so they don’t promote the capability

And it’s not just for industrial accounts. Institutional accounts (colleges/universities, hospitals, potentially government agencies) can use punchouts. Remember, a procurement system helps a company manage its purchasing processes, so many companies are prospects.

With a cost-effective punchout resource, distributors can be proactive in their efforts to tighten relationships with key industrials as well as pursue the MRO business at institutional accounts. The key is the right relationship.

For this reason, we’re pleased to welcome our newest advertiser, Greenwing Technology. Greenwing helps small, medium and large sized companies integrate with customers. They manage thousands of punchouts and can integrate with any procurement system (the 54 mentioned above and more).

Jeremy Friedman, president of Greenwing Technology, shared more insights on punchouts:

“A punchout catalogue is a B2B eCommerce website that allows an organization to buyer from a vendor directly from their e-Procurement system. Larger organizations such as corporations, hospitals and colleges/universities use e-Procurement software to control their organization’s spending. They need to know what departments are buying from which vendors and at what cost to help control costs and understand where all the organization’s spend happens.

“The majority of the communication of punchout catalogues is a standard XML-based language called Commerce Extensible Markup Language or cXML. cXML and the related punchout catalogue protocol was originated and is maintained by the industry group and SAP Ariba. Ariba was one of the originators of e-Procurement and cXML and continues to be very prevalent in the industry. These days there are over 100 e-Procurement systems worldwide.

“The easiest way to think about a punchout catalogue is a B2B ecommerce system that is directly tied into your customers’ e-Procurement platform. They can shop, add items to their cart, retrieve quotes and checkout.

“Let’s step through the process of how the punchout mechanism works.

“Procurement system. From there, they may click a link or a button that says your organization’s name. Let’s assume Acme Supplies. Once they do that, the e-Procurement system sends a request to your punchout catalogue, which is interpreted, and if the user has the correct information, they are automatically logged into the punchout catalogue.

“Now that the user is in the punchout catalogue, they can shop as normal, adding items to their cart, retrieving a quote, or adding an item to a favourites list. Let’s assume they add three different items to their cart and they’re now ready to check out and pay for their items. This is where punchout catalogues differ from traditional B2B ecommerce.

“The user is ready to check out, normally there would be shipping, billing and payment to deal with, but in the punchout world, all of that takes place after. Remember back at the beginning when the user first logged into their procurement system, we’ll now we need to get them back into that procurement system that has all the controls, such as budgets, payment, addresses, etc. So instead of prompting the user for billing, shipping and payment in the punchout, we simply send those three items in their shopping cart back to the procurement system.

“Now the user is back in the procurement system, but they have those three items. Now he/she can submit those three items in the cart so they can be approved and turned into a purchase order. If this user is a plant manager, they can probably approve their order in the e-Procurement. They just click approve, the purchase order arrives at your organization, and now you have a new order. If the user wasn’t allowed to approve the order, they might have to submit it for approval to their supervisor. Either way, once the order is approved your organization will receive it electronically and your organization can release the order.”

And if you want to see a video on punchouts and how purchase orders are handled, view these videos on the “Adventures of Punchout Man”

What is a punchout?
Handling purchase orders with punchouts
To learn more about punchouts and Greenwing, email Jeremy or call 1-877-415-3237.

And, from our experience, while some ERP companies and eCommerce platforms “offer” punchout services, they either outsource the service or treat it as a side business, hence either don’t have the in-house expertise or are costly, hence creating inhibiting usage / promotion. We suggest going direct to a qualified source.

Punchouts represent an interesting growth opportunity for distributors. They can

• help you capture increased MRO spend from your customers … to proactively pursue this business with the same functionality, cost-effectively, that large MRO distributors have.

• provide an additional eCommerce solution to discuss with customers

• enable you to compete versus large companies

• potentially broaden your product offering by adding non-electrical MRO items, possibly in partnership with another distributor in your marketplace that serves the same customer? (and there is at least 1 eCommerce platform,, that we know of that can house customer specific catalogues from different companies in a common database.

Longer term, its probable that contractors will seek to utilize the punch-out concept with their estimating/purchasing systems… gather information for their estimate, and once they receive the go ahead on a project to “push a button” and place the order electronically.

System-to-system is the future of much of eCommerce for MRO purchases with your larger customers (but yes, you still need an electronic catalogue and one with as many SKUs as possible), and Greenwing has the technical capabilities to support you as well as can provide sales guidance … after all, Jeremy wrote the book on it: Driving Sales with e-Procurement and Punchout Catalogs[.

David Gordon is President of Channel Marketing Group. Channel Marketing Group develops market share and growth strategies for manufacturers and distributors and develops market research. CMG’s specialty is the electrical industry. He also authors an electrical industry blog, He can be reached at 919-488-8635 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


           Partnering For The Next Step                

Siemens CanadaWelcome to the Digital Enterprise Virtual Summit brought to you by Siemens

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to the Digital Enterprise Virtual Summit under the motto “Partnering for the next step.”   




“Re-envisioning Electrical Switchboards”: For light commercial applications, the status quo is no longer enough

Eaton 175x125Whether you’re a contractor or consultant, compact footprint and shorter lead times are a priority. At Eaton, we understand these challenges. That’s why we have re-envisioned our traditional electrical switchboard to assess how it could better serve light commercial applications. The result? The Pow-R-Line CS. 

Join Eaton’s webinar on June 30th, 2020 and learn the secret to shorter lead times alongside the additional benefits of:

 -  Versatile Configuration - Cost Effectiveness - Plus a Complimentary 3D Product Demonstration!

Sign up and join our host Annu Yadav - Distributor Programs Manager and our presenter Aditya Ramesh - Product Manger of Panelboards & Switchboards. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Click Here To Register.


John JefkinsBy John Jefkins

In 2011, I started working in the electrical arena and quickly noticed that there was a high employee retention rate within the industry. Today, I regularly engage with Electro-Federation Canada members with 20, 30 and even 40 plus year tenures. Other industries I had worked in previously, such as telecommunications, had higher turnover rates.

Our industry faces an increasing need for talent, with new retirements and product/process innovations and modernization driving the need for specialized roles — some not even known yet.

Read More  

Digital Twin MarketA recent Markets & Markets report estimates the Digital Twin market will grow from US$3.8 billion in 2019, to US$35.8 billion per year by 2025, at a CAGR of 45.4%. Digital Twin software is already revolutionizing industries such as healthcare, architecture, aerospace, defence, and automotive and transportation.

Furthermore, the global smart infrastructure market, which includes the Digital Twin sector, is expected to thrive at a considerable CAGR between 2020 and 2025 as demand for the smart infrastructure has been a booming year on year, reports Market Research Explore - details. 

Read More

PNNL StudyBy Craig DiLouie

The U.S. Department of Energy has released the results of a study examining authentication vulnerabilities in connected lighting systems (CLS). Particularly as emerging CLS incorporate distributed intelligence, network interfaces and sensors, they can serve as data-collection platforms that enable a wide range of valuable new capabilities as well as greater energy savings in buildings and cities. However, CLS technology is currently at an early stage of development, and its increased connectivity introduces cybersecurity risks that are new to the lighting industry and must be addressed for successful integration with other systems.

Read More

David GordonBy David Gordon

COVID-19 has heightened the benefit of, and interest in, eCommerce for electrical distributors. Our second and third COVID-19 Electrical Market Sentiment Reports have shown that those with an eCommerce offering have seen online sales increases. Further, from conversations with distributors, their site activity increased. The benefit is that these companies had lower sales declines (and some increases), and were able to better serve their customers.

A further benefit is that their remote workforce had access to an online resource, other than manufacturers, for quick, easy, product research.

Read More

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The survey, conducted the third week in June, received responses from 164 individuals who equally represented industry stakeholders.

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Very few distributors reported either flat or positive performance with over 30% reporting declines of over 30% for the quarter.




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EikoEIKO has announced the the introdutction of EiKO Marketplace, a digital storefront, located in the EiKO Portal. Developed to market and sell promotional specials and excess inventory including generational, overstock, and niche products; the EiKO Marketplace presents an opportunity to offer high-quality lighting at incredible savings.

Due to the rapid development and generational changes of LED technologies the timing is perfect to launch the EiKO Marketplace as an outlet to sell high quality, value-priced products.


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LevitonLeviton Canada is pleased to announce the nomination of Thomas Supinski as Sales Director for Alberta and the Prairies as of June 1st, 2020, as Julie Marineau will be moving to Montreal along with her family. Julie will be promoted to Vice-President, Retail at Leviton Canada’s head office.

Thomas has been residing in Calgary since 2003 and has a deep understanding of the regional market and its specific needs.



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Peers & Profiles

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  Sonepar is excited to introduce Anju Uddin as the new Marketing Manager for their Ontario ...
Electro-Federation Canada’s Young Professional Network (YPN) is a fantastic tool for industry ...
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Anju UddinBy Blake Marchand

Sonepar is excited to introduce Anju Uddin as the new Marketing Manager for their Ontario Region! Anju has more than 15 years of experience as a marketing expert, which includes running an independent agency working with a multitude of businesses in various industries and geographies from around the globe. 

With a passion for reinvention and finding success through a commitment to education and innovation, Anju has utilized her exceptional creativity and business acumen to engineer seamless brand experiences...

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