Purchase Order (PO)

A document issued by a retailer to a supplier, indicating the products, quantities, and agreed prices for products or services.

What is Purchase Order (PO)?

A Purchase Order (PO) is a formal document used by buyers to request and outline details of a purchase from suppliers. It specifies items, quantities, prices, and terms. It helps streamline communication, track orders, and ensure accuracy. Suppliers refer to the PO to fulfil orders correctly.

How PO works

  • Creation: The buyer creates a PO detailing the products or services needed, quantities, agreed-upon prices, and other terms.

  • Issuance: The buyer sends the PO to the supplier electronically or in print. This initiates the purchase process.

  • Acceptance: The supplier reviews the PO. If everything aligns with their capabilities and terms, they accept the PO.

  • Fulfilment: The supplier prepares and delivers the products or services as specified in the PO.

  • Receipt: The buyer receives the goods and checks them against the PO for accuracy and quality.

  • Invoice Matching: The buyer matches the received goods against the PO and corresponding invoice to ensure consistency.

  • Payment: Once the goods are verified and the invoice matches the PO, the buyer processes payment to the supplier.

  • Record Keeping: Both parties keep a copy of the PO for their records, helping with reconciliation and future reference.

  • Communication: The PO acts as a reference point for any discrepancies or inquiries related to the order.

  • Process Optimisation: Businesses often use PO data for analysis, optimising inventory, and improving supplier relationships.
Overall, a Purchase Order ensures clarity, reduces errors, and provides a structured framework for smooth procurement and payment processes.

Pros of PO

  1. Clarity and Accuracy: POs provide a clear and standardised document detailing the order's specifics, minimising the risk of miscommunication or errors between the retailer and the supplier.
  2. Legal Protection: A well-defined PO acts as a legally binding agreement between the retailer and the supplier, protecting both parties' interests and helping to resolve disputes if issues arise.
  3. Control and Budgeting: POs allow retailers to control their spending by setting budgets for each order. This helps in managing expenses, tracking costs, and maintaining financial discipline.

Cons of PO

  1. Administrative Burden: Creating and managing POs can be time-consuming and resource-intensive, especially for retailers with a large volume of orders. This can divert resources away from other critical tasks.
  2. Inflexibility: POs are generally fixed agreements, which can become a challenge if there are unexpected changes in demand, pricing, or order quantities. Altering POs may involve additional negotiations and paperwork.
  3. Delay in Procurement: The process of creating, approving, and processing POs can introduce delays in procurement, which might not be suitable for rapidly changing markets or industries that require quick response times.


Below you will find answers to common questions
What is a Purchase Order (PO) and why is it important for retailers?
A Purchase Order (PO) is a formal document issued by a retailer to a supplier that outlines the details of a purchase transaction. It specifies the items or products to be purchased, their quantities, agreed-upon prices, delivery dates, and terms of payment. POs are crucial for retailers as they provide a structured way to manage procurement processes, ensure accurate orders, track inventory, and maintain clear communication with suppliers.
How does the Purchase Order (PO) process work for retailers?
The PO process begins when a retailer identifies a need for products and generates a PO. The PO is then sent to the supplier, who acknowledges it and prepares the order. Upon shipment, the supplier sends an invoice, which is matched against the PO and the received goods. If everything aligns, the retailer processes the payment. The PO process helps retailers streamline ordering, maintain budget control, and minimise errors by formalising the procurement workflow.