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What Is cXML? XML vs cXML Integration for eCommerce

Key Takeaways
  • cXML (commerce eXtensible Markup Language) is an XML-based standard that extends the capabilities of XML for eCommerce transactions between businesses.
  • It uses XML syntax and tags to represent structured business data, such as purchase orders, invoices, and shipping notices.
  • cXML adds new tags and attributes to the XML vocabulary to support specific eCommerce requirements, such as payment methods, delivery options, and tax codes.
cXML is great at transferring catalog content from existing systems

cXML for eCommerce Solutions

Part of a series on cXML, Punchout Catalogs, and their role in eCommerce integration.

cXML vs XML for eCommerce

cXML is the future of eCommerce, especially for supply chain integration, and businesses that don't switch from older systems will be left behind. XML stands for Extensible Markup Language and is a standard for creating another programming language, also known as a meta language. You're able to use whatever plain text you want to map your data fields.

However, with many different interpretations of XML out in the world, a standard was needed when communicating between different businesses, entering commerce XML, or cXML.

cXML employs a widely used punchout feature for communicating documents.

History of cXML and eCommerce

You're probably wondering, "what is cXML?" In 1999, a company called Ariba realized the benefit of XML in business transactions. But it was also very aware of one of the biggest drawbacks; that its customizable nature meant that XML integration with any other software would be difficult at best. Their idea was to unify the language and make cXML integration more accessible to everyone.

So they set out to make a standard eCommerce communication language based on XML, for the main purpose of enabling EDI eCommerce (electronic data interchange) or site-to-site communication (i.e. processing orders, etc.).

Today, it has moved from a simple idea to one of the most common business-to-business eCommerce languages, and it's still growing. Many different companies have contributed to cXML: Microsoft, HP, AMD, Visa, GM, and more.

cXML helps with point-to-point configurations within electronic business protocols.

How Is cXML Different from XML for eCommerce Applications?

cXML vs XML for enterprise eCommerce websites development.

cXML is a subset of XML. XML has many subsets, and each is specialized for a particular field. cXML is specific to commerce, hence commerce-XML or cXML. For whatever text a programmer wants to use to define fields, cXML has a specific list called “schemas.”

The schemas tell programmers how to reference fields when creating data. This ensures that software written by Company A in cXML can communicate with software written by Company B in cXML. This wouldn’t be possible in standard XML unless the developers get together and agree on specific fields.

Why cXML for Your eCommerce Website?

What's the difference between XML and cXML? At its core, cXML is still based on XML. This means that all of the information is arranged in a plain text format, with information located intuitively. There are no special programs needed to view XML, just a standard web browser. Plus, the cXML standard means lower information overhead vs XML alone, but it’s still extensible, so any extra information you need can still be communicated.

cXML can transfer procurement documents and procurement applications.

What cXML Means for Your Company and eCommerce Platform

cXML framework enables your business to prepare for the future of eCommerce and still take advantage of the most popular eProcurement systems today. cXML is the most widely adopted b2b protocol on the market today. Integrated with an eProcurement system, cXML has the potential to streamline how you do business electronically.

The cXML format has emerged as one of, if not the top, business-to-business eCommerce languages. It is the preferred language of Punchout Catalogs, which are tools to help one procurement system work with another.

That being said, a complete eCommerce platform will rely on many different languages, one of which is cXML. Your developer will work with you to help you understand what each language means for your specific platform and how cXML integration might work best.

A punchout setup request starts the punchout request.

Work with Clarity for cXML Integrations

If you're considering cXML vs XML, currently using cXML, or would like more of an understanding of how to make eCommerce XML integration more accessible using cXML, Clarity can help.

We offer a complimentary discovery session, a no-pressure meeting where we'll help you create a plan moving forward. Use this plan with us or take it with you; our primary goal is to see you succeed.

Web development.



cXML (commerce eXtensible Markup Language) is an XML-based standard used for eCommerce transactions between businesses. It enables the exchange of structured documents such as purchase orders, invoices, and ship notice documents.

A cXML document includes tags and elements that represent different parts of a transaction, facilitating the automation of procurement, invoicing, and payment processes. These documents are transmitted via EDI or web-based protocols such as HTTP or HTTPS.


No, cXML is not an API (Application Programming Interface). It is an XML-based standard used for the exchange of structured business documents between businesses. While APIs are a set of protocols and tools for building software applications, cXML is a standardized format for transmitting business documents such as purchase orders, invoices, and shipping notices. ECommerce API integration can use cXML documents as a way to transmit data between systems, but cXML is not an API in itself.


cXML punchout is a procurement technology used in eCommerce that enables seamless and real-time communication between a buyer's procurement system and a supplier's online catalog. In this purchasing process, the buyer accesses the supplier's catalog directly from their procurement systems, creating a virtual connection known as a "punchout."

This dynamic link allows users to browse and select products within the supplier's catalog while remaining within the buyer's eProcurement system. Once the selection is made, the chosen items are transferred back to the buyer's system for approval and processing. cXML punchout streamlines the purchasing process, enhances accuracy, and ensures compliance with negotiated contracts.

This method is widely adopted in B2B transactions, providing a user-friendly and efficient means for organizations to manage their procurement processes and electronic business transactions.


cXML punchout significantly impacts Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) by optimizing the procurement process and fostering seamless integration. In the realm of ERP, cXML punchout enables direct and dynamic connections between the buyer's ERP system and external supplier catalogs.

This real-time linkage allows users to access and select products from suppliers within the familiar ERP environment, promoting efficiency and accuracy in the procurement process. The chosen items are then seamlessly transferred back to the ERP system for streamlined approval and processing. cXML punchout enhances ERP functionality by facilitating standardized and secure communication, ensuring that procurement solutions align with organizational goals and contractual agreements.

This cXML integration promotes better data accuracy, procurement processes, and collaborative decision-making, ultimately contributing to an overall improvement in the effectiveness of ERP.

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Autumn Spriggle is a Content Writer at Clarity Ventures with experience in research and content design. She stays up to date with the latest trends in the eCommerce and software development industries so she can write content to help people like you realize the full potential for their business.

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