eCat FAQ

FAQ Purpose

Q: What kind of information is not located in this FAQ?

This FAQ does not answer technical questions that involve system errors and browser issues. You can find solutions to these known issues by visiting the MIT Knowledge Base.

Q: What kind of information can I find here?

This FAQ is designed to answer common business questions you may encounter when trying to place an order on eCat.

General Information

General Functionality

Q: Who can use eCat?

Anyone with a valid MIT certificate and proper authorization to order items can use eCat.

Q: What is eCat?

eCat is MIT's web-based electronic order to invoicing system for buying directly from MIT’s most commonly used vendors. eCat offers a one-stop shop for ordering from these vendors.


Q: Why use eCat?

eCat offers a host of benefits, some of which are listed below.

For community members:

  • Single user sign-on via certificate authentication
  • One-time entry of user profile
  • Guaranteed pricing from contracted suppliers
  • Quick and easy order placement
  • Robust search capabilities across multiple suppliers

For MIT:

  • Cost savings via negotiated contracts and discounts
  • Efficient ordering process that minimizes transactional volume

For Business Office:

  • Elimination of manually keyed invoices
  • Reduction of purchase order-to-invoice errors
  • Reduced paper workflow


Q: Can I go directly to a supplier’s website to place an order?

You can, but it is not recommended. If you don’t “punch out” from the eCat portal, you will not receive MIT contract pricing, and your order won’t be processed through the automated workflow for SAP and eCat.

Q: What are punch-out catalogs?

Punch-out catalogs reside on the vendor’s website and are maintained by the vendor. Because these catalogs are based on the vendor website’s functionality, they may provide information not available in a hosted environment such as real-time product availability and shipping status.

Q: What are hosted catalogs?

Hosted catalogs are supplier catalogs that reside on the eCat web site. The catalogs contain supplier products with contractual pricing. All hosted catalogs are approved by MIT procurement personnel prior to being added to eCat.

Q: What are hosted catalogs?

Hosted catalogs are supplier catalogs that reside on the eCat web site. The catalogs contain supplier products with contractual pricing. All hosted catalogs are approved by MIT procurement personnel prior to being added to eCat.

Getting Started


Q: How do I access eCat?

From the Atlas home page go to the “Buying” tab and click on “eCat” under “Requisitions.

Profile Setup

Q: Why am I required to enter a building, room number, and email address in each shipping profile?

Because many users in the community create eCat orders for other people within their department, the system requires the user to enter building, room number, and email address in each shipping profile so we can determine who the order should be shipped to.

Q: My personal information has changed, how can I update it?

In your profile you are allowed to change your phone number, name, and building address. All other information is pulled from your Kerberos ID and is not editable.

Q: Why is the default “bill to” profile Accounts Payable?

Accounts Payable is the default ‘bill to’ address because Accounts Payable is billed directly for all orders made through eCat. Vendors send invoices electronically to Accounts Payable; they match the invoices against the line items on your order and the order is paid automatically.

Q: Can I have more than one user profile?

No. Because your profile is based on your MIT certificate, only one profile per user is allowed.

Q: How do I set up my profile?

Follow the steps outlined in the User Profile Setup instructions.

Site Management

Searching for Products

Q: Does the general search option in eCat search all suppliers?

Yes and no. All vendors with hosted catalogs (meaning that you do not have to go the vendor’s external website to shop) will show up when using the search functionality in eCat. However, vendors who take you away from eCat to their external sites (vendors like Staples, Apple, and Dell) will generally not come up in the search.

Q: How can I search for products?

From the eCat home page, click the "Search" tab and enter search criteria or choose to search by category. You can also click vendor icons to search for items they offer. If there is no icon for the company, you can look for the supplier by clicking "Browse: suppliers."

Comparing Products

Q: How can I search punch-out catalogs?

In order to search a punch-out supplier’s catalog, you need to punch out to the site and use the search tools available on the vendor website.

Q: Can I compare items across suppliers on eCat?

eCat offers comparisons on products of hosted and some punch-out suppliers. After you perform a search, the search results are displayed in a tabular format, allowing for comparisons on key parameters such as product description, vendor, price, and unit of measure. The eCat search engine returns the most relevant matches at the top of the list.

Creating Favorites Lists

Q: Can I add a punch-out supplier's products to my favorites list?

Functionality on the eCat site will allow you to add punch-out supplier products to your favorites list. However, best practices dictate that you should maintain a favorites list within each punch-out vendor site. Having your favorites list on the punch-out vendor site will ensure you receive accurate contractual pricing and accurate product availability.

Q: Can I put favorite folders inside other favorites folders?

Yes, you can organize your favorites for efficient ordering. You can also create subfolders within your favorites folder. This feature is especially helpful for organizing orders for multiple people within a department.

Q: Can I delete a favorites folder that I no longer use?

Yes, you can delete products from a favorites list or delete an entire list. From the Home Page, select My Favorites (My Favorites). Go to "Edit Folder," "Options," and delete the desired folder.

Q: Can I have multiple favorites lists?

Yes, you can have multiple favorites lists and organize them in a similar fashion to Microsoft’s folder structure.

Q: How do I create a favorites list?

Create a favorites list by clicking the “add to favorites” button from a cart or product search results. You can create favorites lists for hosted suppliers on the eCat site. Punch-out supplier favorites lists are maintained on the specific vendor web site. 


Placing an Order

Q: I checked out from a punch-out but didn’t go back to the Atlas requisition screen. What’s wrong?

In a punch-out catalog, there are two steps to the checkout process. You need to check out from the supplier site, and then review and confirm your order within eCat and submit it before you reach the Create Requisition screen.

Q: How do I place my order?

After you have filled your cart, review and confirm your order and click “Submit.” For more details see How to Buy using eCat.

Q: Will the order go directly to the vendor when I submit it to SAP?

This depends on your release strategy. Your order may need to be approved by someone else in your department. If so, the order will go to the vendor after your approver has released the order. To see the status of your requisition, go to the Atlas Buying Page, click on “Find Requisition,” and enter your requisition number.

Q: After I submit an order to SAP, how long will it take to appear in Atlas?

The requisition will appear immediately. The purchase order will be listed within an hour after the requisition is approved and released.


Q: I created a cart with multiple products from various suppliers, and I am getting an error message. What is wrong?

Only products from one supplier are allowed per cart. You will need to go to your cart and separate items by supplier into different carts.

Q: Can I name draft carts?

Yes. You can name your carts to identify them for future use.

Q: How many draft carts can I have?

There is no limit on the number of draft carts you can have.

Q: Can I create a cart and save it for later?

Yes. Your cart will be saved on your home page under the carts section. Saved carts will remain until you actually place them as an order or delete them.

Q: What is a draft cart?

A draft cart is a cart you create with the intention of not submitting it for a formal order. You may create a draft cart for aggregating and bundling orders; however, you can only use one company per draft cart.

Ordering Efficiently

Q: I am confirming my order and get an error message that says my ship-to address is incomplete. What do I do?

A message will appear saying that you are missing required fields. Click the red “x” where it states “required field.” Then click “select from org addresses.” When presented with the building search, leave the field blank and click “Search.” Once the results have populated, change the results per page to 200 and select your address. Once you have selected one of the addresses, fill in your address details and click “Save.”

Q: What is the quickest way to place an order?

The most efficient way to place an order within eCat is to order from your favorites list.

Order Limits

Q: I placed an order to Invitrogen for $16,500 and have not received an acknowledgement yet. What happened?

Invitrogen is not a partner vendor and therefore any order over $10,000 requires selection of source documentation. Your order is being held in the eCat site awaiting the required documentation. A purchasing agent will contact you for selection of source information, and once it is received your order will be released.

Q: How do I know if I am authorized to purchase?

If you are authorized to purchase in the roles database, then you are authorized to purchase using eCat. Please check with your department's financial administrator or administrative officer to determine if you have been granted authorizations.

Restricted Items

Q: Can I buy syringes via eCat?

No. eCat limits ordering hazardous and restricted items such as needles, syringes, and radioactive products. This is primarily due to the authorizations needed to place such orders. Please use Atlas and follow standard guidelines for purchasing these items.


Q: Why can’t I enter an off-campus “ship to” address into my order?

Shipping addresses are limited to MIT campus buildings; you cannot ship off campus via eCat. If a valid MIT building is not in eCat, please contact eCat. Only eCat administrators can add addresses to the MIT profile.

Q: Can I change the shipping address on my order?

Yes. You are able to change the “ship to” address if the address is part of your eCat profile. If the address is not in your profile, go to your profile and add the new address. Go back to confirm your order, edit the address, and select the newly added address from your profile.

Q: How do I determine my “ship to” address?

Go to the Facilities web page and select your building. If your ground deliveries address matches one of the receiving rooms on the right side of the page, use that building when selecting your “ship to” address in eCat. If not, select your building using the drop down in eCat.


Q: How can I return a Staples eCat order?

You may return Staples office supply items through the Staples eCat punchout. From your web browser, navigate to the eCat Home Page. Mouse over “Place Department Order” and click "Place Department Order Now". Click on the Staples icon and then click on “My Orders”. Finally, click on "Returns."

Q: Can I return an order I’ve placed through eCat?

We cannot process returns via the eCat site. If you have questions on a returns procedure, please contact the individual vendor.

Personal Ordering

Q: Can I place orders for personal use through the eCat site?

Yes. Go to the following link to place personal orders:

Procurement Card

Q: Why can’t I use my procurement card for ordering through eCat?

Although the procurement card is an excellent way to purchase items, the preferred method to purchase from eCat is via automated workflow though SAP.

Requisitions & Purchase Orders


Q: How do I receive my requisition number?

You will receive your requisition number once the order has been submitted to SAP. Upon submission of your cart, you will be brought to the Atlas create requisition page, where you will need to enter your cost object, GL account, and material group code, and then submit the requisition.

Q: Can I change item or delivery information after I submit the requisition to SAP?

No. If you need to change any information for an order, it is best to cancel the requisition entirely and recreate your order. Otherwise, vendors that match the purchase order information to their saved shopping carts may not be able to process your order correctly.

Q: I have filled in my GL account and cost objects but my order still won’t process. What happened?

You may have an invalid cost object or GL account. Check your entries and make changes accordingly. If you determine your GL account and cost objects are valid, please contact eCat.

Q: I entered the wrong cost object. How can I change it?

You cannot change a cost object unless it is one that has expired. To change an expired cost object, please contact Accounts Payable at

Purchase Orders

Q: How will I know if my order has been placed?

Once a purchase order number has been issued, your order has been placed.

Q: I placed an order in eCat. How can I be sure it went through?

As long as you received your requisition number, your order was placed. If you did not receive a requisition number, contact eCat.

Q: I submitted an eCat requisition and a purchase order has been assigned, but the vendor does not show the order in their system. What should I do?

Contact eCat or call the Procurement Office at 617-253-7241.

Cancelling an Order

Q: I made a mistake on an order; can I cancel it in eCat?

You cannot cancel an order in the system. Please call the vendor and see if you can cancel the order. If you can cancel the order, email to close the purchase order in SAP.


Electronic Invoice Process

Q: When will I receive the invoices to approve for orders that I placed via eCat?

You will not receive invoices to approve for any order processed through the system. Invoices from eCat suppliers are sent to Accounts Payable via an automated process. They are matched against the line items on your order and paid automatically. There is no manual intervention or paper to track when you use the eCat system.