A purchase order is a paper sent from a purchaser come a vendor to check a certain purchase of goods or services. One little paper can walk a long means in clearing up the logistical confusion of a cultivation business.

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How are purchase orders different from an invoice?

A purchase order is authorize by the buyer, who wants to make sure they got specifically what castle ordered, if an invoice is issued by the vendor, who wants to make sure they gain paid.

Purchase order are sent out by the buyer to the seller first, and they outline precisely what the order should contain and also when it have to arrive. It’ll encompass things favor quantity the items, thorough descriptions the the items, the price, day of purchase, and also payment terms.

A merchant sends one invoice just after they have actually approved the purchase.

When invoicing, merchants usually incorporate the purchase order number (PO number) included on the initial purchase order, so the finance deserve to make certain the details on both creates is the same.

How are purchase orders different from sales orders?

Purchase order are offered to officially confirm purchases, and are sent out by the purchaser come the vendor.

Sales orders, on the various other hand, are sent out by merchants to purchasers in order to check a sale before the order has actually been fulfilled.

Why carry out companies use acquisition orders?

When most small businesses start out, castle forego a acquisition order process in favor of a much more informal approach.

But as service providers grow and their purchases become an ext complex, detailed, and urgent, a simple cash-for-goods purchasing mechanism will cause confusion.

Here are 4 of the most common reasons why service providers use purchase orders.

1. They give you legal protection

Let’s say your startup notified ten ergonomic chairs indigenous a vendor, paid because that them, however then on shipment day just nine chairs arrived at your office. Who’s to blame?

If you and your vendor disagree and also you don’t have a purchase order—which is a legally binding contract—you can end up in a legit tricky position. There is no a document trail, it deserve to sometimes be an overwhelming to definitively prove what walk wrong in a purchase.

Purchase order get approximately that faint by bringing both parties with each other in a mutually-binding contract and also serving together an on-the-record legitimate document. When a merchant receives and also approves a purchase order, you’re both legitimate bound to your end of the deal.

(Note: simply sending a acquisition order to a seller isn’t enough for the to take it effect. The file only i do not care legally binding once the merchant “acknowledges” the acquisition order by signing it.)

2. They make orders much easier to track

Purchase orders aid you far better account for every one of the goods and services your firm has ordered, keep tabs on just how you’re paying for them, and track as soon as they’re arriving.

In the same method that invoice numbers help you manage invoices, by assigned a PO number to each acquisition order, friend can easily track the orders did you do it sent.

From an to work standpoint, you have the right to track orders an ext confidently learning that your supplier is contractually bound to deliver them in ~ a particular time and date. Native an bookkeeping perspective, friend can budget plan confidently knowing that you have a contractually-enforced purchase price.

3. They aid you prevent audit problems

If you take place to acquire audited, you’ll give thanks to your previous self for developing purchase orders. Why? purchase orders eliminate a the majority of stress indigenous the auditing process by giving auditors with a conclusive audit trail and an easy method to cross-check invoices and packing slips.

Without acquisition orders, prepare for a long, painful process of poring over invoices, receipts and also emails through vendors.

4. They do life simpler for your vendors

If your vendor is supplied to receiving acquisition orders, you’ll gain your delivery faster if girlfriend send lock one. With everything they require to recognize in one place, the purchasing process is straightforward—so there will certainly be no back and forth and also no miscommunication.

How carry out purchase orders work?

The steps involved in the acquisition order procedure can it is in a little complicated. Here’s a break down of a typical transaction entailing a purchase order native the view of a purchaser:

First, the purchasing department at your agency is educated by monitoring that a purchase demands to be made. Some companies carry out this through issuing a purchase requisition form.

If the department approves the order, they fill the end a purchase order detailing specifically what the purchase is.

The acquisition order is then sent to the vendor, who decides whether they can and also want come fulfil the order. When they provide the purchase order, it becomes legally binding.

The purchaser sends payment for the i agreeed price (or go so in ~ an agreed-upon later date, which is mentioned on the acquisition order.)

The vendor delivers the order together with an invoice. The purchaser’s finance department then compares this invoice to the purchase order to make certain that the two documents agree with each other.

Here’s an instance of a acquisition order form

Your acquisition order doesn’t have to look exactly like this. Yet it should incorporate these elements.


The aspects included in this instance are:

PO numberPurchase bespeak dateVendor name and billing addressBuyer name and shipping addressAdditional call information, such as phone numbers and also email addressesDelivery dateShipping methodShipping termsItem nameItem description and technical informationItem quantityItem unit costLine totalTaxesTotal pricePayment terms

Purchase orders are standardized throughout the entire agency and contain, in ~ the really least, information about: the purchaser and merchant (names, addresses), the order chin (product description, technological specs, price, quantity), and also payment state (due day and kind of payment, eg. Bank transfer, credit card).

These days, many companies use an digital purchase bespeak system, frequently managed with accountancy software.

If your audit solution doesn’t have that option, Shopify has terrific purchase bespeak template.

When perform I not need a acquisition order?

Making large, important purchase transactions without purchase orders is generally a poor idea. But there space some exception to the rule.

Certain regular, recurring purchases relating come the day-to-day to work of a business—including heat, electricity and gas payments, monthly subscriptions to services, memberships, etc.—are generally billed because that monthly and also do not need a purchase order.

Any internal expense reimbursements—for travel, educational materials, supplies, entertainment, etc.—are tracked making use of their very own form, usually called a reimbursement request.

You require to recognize the complete cost the a purchase ahead the time come fill the end a acquisition order. That method purchases that have actually an unknown future total cost—advertising costs and legal expenses, for example—can’t it is in purchased utilizing a purchase order (a an easy invoice will do for these.)

For the benefits of efficiency and simplicity, suppliers will likewise often set a lower price threshold for issuing a purchase order. For example, your company might decide the it is most effective if all orders smaller than $500 don’t usage a purchase order.

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