For GPO Catholic Purchasing Services (CPS), the use of PunchOut sites, where suppliers are responsible for their own product listings, is imperative. Handling the descriptions, photos, and other product details for their 200 vendors’ tens of thousands of products, on top of their other critical duties, would prove overwhelming for CPS’s seven employees. Instead, CPS utilizes EqualLevel’s eProcurement marketplace to bring all of their vendors’ catalogs under one umbrella.
About Catholic Purchasing Services
Founded in 1988 and located in Newton, Massachusetts, CPS began offering products at a discount to their members via a printed catalog before moving their catalog online in 2010. While CPS’s procurement service is offered through the Catholic Church, membership is open to 501(c)(3) faith-based organizations of all denominations. 25 percent of the market share, which is comprises churches, schools, and nursing homes, are CPS members.
CPS brands and partners include KI, OSV, Smith System, National Public Seating, Staples, Xerox, Sherwin Williams, Slabbinck, School Health, Virco, Quadient, Root Candles, Cavanagh, Cintas, and School Specialty, among many others.
EqualLevel’s eProcurement Marketplace
In 2019, CPS conducted a search for a robust eProcurement system that could be integrated with their existing ERP, NetSuite SuiteCommerce. The organization was impressed with EqualLevel’s partnerships with Staples and other large suppliers. The idea of leveraging EqualLevel’s relationships to offer more vendors and products to their members was appealing. “EqualLevel was by far the best value for the investment,” said O’Hara. “We looked at a lot of other sites that were more expensive and they could not deliver the connections that EqualLevel’s marketplace already had built right in,” she continued. “The technology behind their platform is sound. It gives us a sense of security knowing that EqualLevel is hosting everything and has robust security and connection.”
With just one click, EqualLevel’s solution gives CPS’s roughly 9,000 members access to hundreds of vendors and their products, at special contract pricing and with extended terms. “With EqualLevel’s PunchOut sites, we don’t need to host SKU’s–that’s all done via the suppliers. The marketplace largely supports itself so we don’t have to worry about anything except marketing the site,” said Mary Schell O’Hara, CPS CEO since June 2022.
CPS’s site includes six critical vendors brought to the marketplace through partnerships with EqualLevel, including Staples. The ability to offer these vendors’ products at a discount to members has had a significant positive impact on the organization’s growth and draw. Since adopting the EqualLevel marketplace in 2019, CPS’s growth in numbers of transactions and dollars has been 25 percent year over year, even with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic factored in.
Sung Oh, EqualLevel’s Vice President of Technical Operations & Support, said of the relationship, “We have enjoyed our partnership with Catholic Purchasing Services and are proud of the tailored marketplace solution we have created to meet their needs. We’ve integrated with their WordPress and NetSuite SuiteCommerce applications for ease of access and a streamlined shopping experience for their members.”
Onboarding New Suppliers
CPS continues to work closely with EqualLevel to bring new vendors to their marketplace. They recently added a partner of many years, Regency Lighting, after receiving requests from members to add a lighting supplier to the site. CPS has been working with Regency Lighting and EqualLevel to connect the supplier’s PunchOut site to the marketplace. “Sung and his team are very easy to work with. We have had no issues with technical help and expertise. The support they have offered has been tremendous,” said O’Hara. Regency Lighting will go live on CPS’s site in early 2023.
The Future for CPS and EqualLevel
In the future, CPS hopes to take advantage of some of the marketplace’s other functionality, including the built-in approval workflow component. This piece allows members to analyze and control spend, as well as put approvals in place. “We are planning to grow the platform by adding new suppliers. We want to leverage EqualLevel’s partnerships and also bring on new vendors. We definitely have EqualLevel in our long term plans,” O’Hara concluded.
For more information on Catholic Purchasing Services, visit www.catholicpurchasing.org.
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