In this report, we define and compare purchasing software and procurement software so you can decide which tool is right for your business.
Purchasing software is often mistaken for procurement software as both are used in the purchasing process. The two software tools, however, are distinct in how they’re used and what they help accomplish. In this report, we highlight the similarities and differences between the two software categories to help you identify which is right for your business.
Purchasing software allows businesses to manage the purchasing phase of their supply chain. This stage involves finding suppliers for a product or service, analyzing budgets, comparing offerings, and finally acquiring the product or service. Purchasing software lets users create electronic purchase orders, record invoices, and provide confirmation on the receipt of goods.
This type of software is used by purchasing managers in industries such as retail and manufacturing to oversee and maintain inventories.
Procurement software allows businesses to manage their purchasing cycle and maintain optimum inventory levels at all times. It helps generate purchase orders, execute those orders, match invoices to the materials received, and make payments to vendors. It also assists in managing interactions between all stakeholders in the purchasing process, including buyers, vendors, and approvers.
Mostly used by RFQ managers in procurement teams, the software helps analyze bids during auctions to ensure businesses are sourcing products with the best value.
Purchasing is a subset of direct procurement—it involves creating and managing purchase orders. Procurement, on the other hand, includes all the steps involved in controlling budgets, cutting costs, and enhancing transparency in the spending and approval process. Procurement software also handles interactions between the buyer, department manager, and approver at every transaction step.
Have a simple purchasing process that doesn’t involve many steps? Then opt for a purchasing software tool. However, if your procurement process is complicated and has multiple stakeholders, a procurement software tool would be a better fit.
If you wish to look at specific tools, head to our purchasing software and procurement software category pages to access a sortable list of products, software reviews from verified users, and comprehensive buyers guides.
If you wish to narrow down your search to only the most popular and highest-rated solutions, visit Capterra’s Shortlist reports for the top purchasing software and procurement software tools—our reports are based on an analysis of thousands of user reviews.
These 14 products, listed in alphabetical order, are among the top rated in both software categories.
Note: Reviews and ratings data in the product cards is as of Oct. 26, 2021. New reviews may have been added since the publication of this article, so the reviews data in this piece may not reflect current conditions.
The products in the category comparison images are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations by Capterra. They have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.
To be included in the list, the products must:
- Be listed under Capterra’s 2021 Shortlist report for purchasing and procurement software. Learn more about the Capterra Shortlist methodology here.
- Meet our software market definition for purchasing and procurement software:
- Purchasing: “Purchasing software automates the procurement cycle for the purchasing of direct and indirect goods and services. These applications include important security, compliance and reporting features, enabling an accurate and efficient purchase order and requisition process. Purchasing solutions often offer integrated tools for invoice approval, inventory control, and asset management, as well as customer service and work order management.”
- Procurement: “Procurement software helps automate the purchasing process and manage all activities related to an organization’s expenditures. The software automates the process of resource acquisition and supplier relationship management. Employees can easily create purchase orders subject to review and approval by managers. The software offers a broad range of tools for tracking, analysis and reporting on business process efficiency.”