Building accurate purchase orders (POs) is make or break for Shopify brands.
And when it comes to creating those POs, you only have two options: You can manually fill them out, line by line, or automate the process with the help of PO software.
And unsurprisingly, it’s way less time-consuming—and more cost-effective—to go the software route. When you account for all the resources and time needed to put them together, manual POs cost you a pretty penny.
Automated POs also aren’t as susceptible to pesky human errors that can pop up with manual orders. These kinds of mistakes trigger stockout or overstock situations—both of which eat into your brand’s bottom line.
So, it’s easy to see how a reliable PO system can improve the accuracy and efficiency of your entire replenishment process. But the benefits don’t stop there.
Here, you’ll learn all the advantages of purchase order software, how to select the best one for your direct-to-consumer brand, and a rundown of some of the top platforms on the market to help you get started.
Purchase order software is a cloud-based program that manages and automates tasks that are part of the purchase order process. This includes generating purchase orders, fast-tracking approvals, and monitoring incoming shipment statuses.
But purchase order software can also reconcile supplier invoices with POs, organize vendor contracts, and more—so you can finally ditch those clunky spreadsheets.
PO software also eliminates redundancies from the process and improves your purchasing workflows. Meaning, you can get the inventory you need as quickly (and easily) as possible. All while gaining better visibility into your spending.
What if you could create and send a PO in mere minutes? Well, you’re in luck.
PO software provides a wealth of advantages, like freeing up your time for more strategic endeavors. But brands can also enjoy other benefits like automating their sales-purchase flow and having a secure place to store PO docs.
Let’s face it: Even when you have the best people on your team, manual processes are no match for the efficiency of purchase order software.
Manual POs are prone to errors (and wasted hours), while PO software automates the sales-purchase flow to make it simple and efficient.
|Cogsy’s purchase order workflow guides you through the creation process with data-backed restock recommendations. That way, you can fill out POs faster and more accurately—without relinquishing control. Try for free.|
When the PO process doesn’t rely on manual data entry, you’ll see a spike in productivity and accuracy since there’s (nearly) zero chance of entering info incorrectly. This is crucial since purchasing the wrong quantity or type of inventory can cost your brand a lot of money.
Stockouts cost retailers an average of $1 trillion annually. Meanwhile, dead stock costs 30% more on average than the inventory’s value.
In other words, having too much or too little inventory will hurt your brand’s bottom line.
Fortunately, automated POs radically reduce the number of errors in the procurement process, so you only order what you need. Nothing more, and nothing less.
Manual tasks require more time than automation. A lot of time, unsurprisingly. But when you cut manual data entry out of the equation, you’ll save time on PO creation, approvals, and processing.
PO software like Cogsy can free up your schedule for more strategic tasks. Brands that team up with Cogsy get back an average of 20 hours a week, thanks to the automated PO flow. That’s equal to more than 1,000 hours a year.
And because Cogsy stores your brand’s previous orders and inventory records, you can easily refer to your historical, drafted, and incoming POs—all in one place. No more time wasted searching for the data needed to fill out your POs.
Digital PO flows also tend to be more collaborative, which speeds up approvals—since communication happens in real-time (rather than waiting for a response).
Similarly, you can expect invoice processing to go much faster since this step also happens in real-time.
But the peak time-saving hack? PO software automatically adjusts to your latest demand plans. That way, your orders always reflect your most recent forecasts. Talk about efficiency!
Purchase orders contain sensitive financial data and business details you want to keep safe. But frankly, paper documentation isn’t very secure.
It’s easy to lose or misplace paperwork. And paper POs can also wind up in the wrong hands, compromising your business’ confidential information.
On the flip side, purchase order software ensures your POs are safe—but still accessible—at all times.
The software serves as a digital archive where you can access your historical data whenever needed. You can look up previous orders, retrieve analytics reports, and check the status of incoming shipments.
Most PO software also lets you decide who has access to view, change, and approve PO data. Some systems even require two-factor authentication. And most tools will frequently back up your digital purchase orders, so your valuable data is always protected.
|🧠 Keep in mind|
|If there’s a miscommunication between your procurement team and your supplier, you want to have secure data to cross-reference the order (and correct potential mistakes)—which is exactly what PO software provides.|
Another perk of PO software is that it supports real-time cost control. A PO platform gives you a “live” picture of what’s happening with your budget so you can:
More simply, PO software gives you more control, so you only order the inventory you actually need. And do so when you actually need it.
This way, you’re not wasting money on products with little-to-no demand, only to spend a fortune on inventory carrying costs.
The best software will even cross-check what you’re about to order with your current stock levels and inventory turnover rates. This confirms that you’re buying products that you not only need but will actually sell.
Better yet, PO software reduces the costs of purchase order processing. According to a 2020 American Productivity & Quality Center (APQC) study, manual PO processing costs businesses as much as $506.52 per purchase order.
Now, imagine creating dozens of POs at that price every year. It adds up fast—not to mention it’s a poor use of your funds.
In contrast, there’s virtually no extra cost to process digital POs. The only expense is what you pay for the software itself. That’s because there’s typically no surcharge for creating any document or report.
When choosing purchase order management software, look for a tool with simple implementation that offers safe record storage and supports smooth PO tracking.
Being able to quickly roll out your new tool is a big factor when selecting purchase order software.
If you can’t figure out how to get the software up and running, you won’t get very far with streamlining your PO process.
So, do your homework. Find software that’s quick to implement and simple enough for anyone to use. Ideally, this software shouldn’t require any specific skills or code writing.
Cloud-based systems are typically a lot easier to implement than on-site software. This is especially helpful if multiple departments or team members need access.
Plus, cloud software solutions are accessible from anywhere and automatically sync your data in real-time (so everyone has the latest information available at their fingertips).
Whether you track your POs by status (sent, confirmed, invoiced, and so on) or by the supplier, the transparency of real-time tracking is key to an efficient purchasing process.
Real-time tracking makes it easy to monitor your PO’s progress and ensure every stage of the PO process goes smoothly—including PO approval.
Speaking of approvals: The best software also sends reminders to PO approvers, making it simple to get digital signatures.
With these features, the approval process is seamless, and you can get the green light for your orders without any bottlenecks.
As we mentioned above, purchase orders include important financial data you need to keep safe.
Thankfully, PO software provides secure, centralized storage for all purchase-related documents (purchase requisitions, invoices, and order receipts).
With PO software, you can rest assured your sensitive data hasn’t been tampered with—and this digital paper trail is helpful for any audits down the line.
Some systems even have additional security measures to keep your data safe. Think: Multi-factor authentication and role-based access control.
These are great features to have in place to prevent your financial data from being jeopardized —especially for larger DTC brands.
Integrations allow all the tools in your retail tech stack to communicate and collaborate with one another. So, finding software that easily integrates with tools you’re already using is crucial.
When your PO software plays well with your tech stack, your brand can enjoy full visibility into your end-to-end PO process.
That said, the most useful integrations for purchase orders include inventory management, fulfillment, and omnichannel (or multichannel) logistics. Popular integration partners for modern retailers include Shopify, Amazon, ShipBob, and Cin7.
When these integrations work hand-in-hand with your PO software, you can create more accurate orders for all your future replenishment cycles.
The bottom line with software pricing is to choose a platform you can afford based on your budget.
After all, your purchase order management software shouldn’t break the bank. And it should justify the return on your investment.
Just remember: PO software streamlines the purchase order creation process, gives you more inventory control and saves you money.
As you search for software that aligns with your budget (and your business needs), you’ll want to do some research. This means reading through the fine print and figuring out what you can expect to pay monthly or per user.
|While certain software charges per user on the account, others charge a flat monthly rate for unlimited users. And a flat monthly rate tends to be easier to budget for as you scale.|
A normal price range for PO software is anywhere from $3 to $49 per month. So, when software doesn’t list their price online or asks you to “contact their team for a quote,” you can often expect an eye-watering number coming your way.
Curious about the top purchase order software for 2023? We’ve compiled a guide to the best platforms on the market today based on functionality, customer reviews, and price.
|Cogsy||Restock recommendations, replenish alerts, demand forecasts, expedited purchasing||Starting at $49/month|
|Procurify||Budget tracking, customized approvals and notifications, metrics reporting||Contact Procurify for current pricing|
|Bellwether Purchasing Software||Customized workflows, controlled spending, role-based access||Starting at $8.50/month|
|Precoro||Simple interface, easy approval workflows, real-time reporting||Starting at $35/month|
|Planergy||Spend management, robust report filtering, centralized PO processing||Contact Planergy for current pricing|
|PairSoft||Automated PO creation, seamless integrations, spend control||Contact PairSoft for current pricing|
|Xero||Customized templates and fonts, PO tracking, convert orders into invoices||Starting at $3.25/month|
|QuickBooks Online||Good for QuickBooks invoice users, automated billing, seamless payments||Starting at $15/month|
|Coupa||Flexible and easy-to-use system, spending visibility, supplier management||Starting at $12.50/month|
|Basware||Automated payment processes, inventory tracking, in-depth reporting||Contact Basware for current pricing|
Cogsy is an end-to-end purchasing platform for Shopify and Amazon brands.
As such, Cogsy’s PO flow makes it easier than ever to create, submit, and revise your POs as often as you need—and it does all this with little-to-no data entry on your part.
As we hinted at above, Cogsy gets you started with a blank PO and then guides you through the purchasing process with personalized restock recommendations. These handy suggestions guarantee you’re restocking only what you need to meet customer demand.
(Feel free to speed up the purchasing process by bulk-adding SKUs to your next PO.)
But how trustworthy are these restock recommendations? Short answer: Very.
Inside Cogsy, you can build demand plans with pinpoint accuracy—up to 12 months out. So, you can set aside enough budget to purchase what you need.
Cogsy then analyzes your demand plan, real-time inventory levels, and sales velocities to calculate the restock recommendations you’ll rely on.
That way, you always order the optimal amount. Not to mention you avoid the human errors that pop up during manual workflows, so you can feel confident all your POs are as accurate as possible.
But that’s not all! Cogsy automatically calculates each SKU’s reorder points. Then, when you get close to a reorder point, it’ll send you a friendly replenish alert, letting you know it’s time to place your next PO.
This streamlined functionality takes the headache out of replenishment. And it ensures you place orders with enough time to circumvent long lead times and bypass supply chain bottlenecks.
But as great as that all is, Cogsy doesn’t stop there.
Cogsy centralizes how you manage vendors. And it also allows you to add multiple shipments to a single PO. Meaning, if you need part of a purchase order to go to Amazon and the rest to go to ShipBob? We got you covered!
With all this information in one place, you can track each open PO’s status from draft to delivery. And a bird’s eye view makes it easy to see where all your incoming inventory is, giving you peace of mind when a stockout feels too close for comfort.
|Restock recommendations, replenish alerts, demand forecasts, expedited purchasing||Doesn’t have roles or do component management (for now)||Starting at $49/month after a 14-day free trial|
Procurify is designed for small- and mid-sized businesses.
Their cloud-based software helps companies to control spending, streamline approvals, track purchases, and gain valuable insights into their purchasing habits.
Aside from that, you can also use it to manage multiple vendors from one platform—helping to simplify the PO process even further.
Plus, all of Procurify’s dashboards and approval flows are highly customizable, so you can build a process that suits your exact needs.
You can even set customized notifications on desktop (or mobile) for improved communication across your team.
As great as that is, Procurify doesn’t have a proper back-editing tool. Meaning, when you make a mistake on one of your orders, you have to fully replicate that data to edit it. This approach wastes a lot of valuable time and can be downright frustrating.
|Budget tracking, customized approvals and notifications, metrics reporting||Editing orders isn’t straightforward and wastes a lot of time||Contact Procurify for current pricing|
Bellwether Purchasing Software has impressive PO processing capabilities. And businesses can use it to create up to 1,000 separate POs monthly.
In fact, Bellwether has two different plans that cater to both mid-sized businesses and large enterprises (based on the rate they create POs).
This software eliminates manual tasks and digitizes the PO process from start to finish. So, users can customize their purchasing workflows and keep track of PO approvals (and rejections) as painlessly as possible.
But a major drawback to Bellwether is that you can’t see requisitions made by other users.
This gap in visibility makes it nearly impossible to hold folks accountable for ordering the wrong thing.
But it also makes it challenging to know if something you need to order has already been requested by someone else—which could lead to some major overstocking.
|Customized workflows, controlled spending, role-based access||Doesn’t tell you when a purchase requisition has been made by another user||Starting at $8.50 per month|
Precoro is a purchase order solution for small- to mid-sized retailers looking to streamline their POs and budget management.
The Precoro platform specializes in PO approval workflows, allowing users to assign as many locations, departments, or custom fields as needed.
Even better, Precoro automatically notifies you following a PO approval, denial, or request for revision.
You can also attach documents or leave comments so everyone is on the same page about where you are within the purchase order process.
That said, Precoro does have some weaknesses.
For one thing, there’s no search bar to look up your POs and invoices. This makes sorting and organizing your orders and payments much more difficult.
There’s also no way to batch-print your orders. And there’s some missing integration functionality (especially with the invoicing piece) that could really slow you down.
|Simple user interface, easy approval workflows, real-time reporting||No subheadings within filter fields, insufficient reporting and permissions||Starting at $35 per month|
Planergy is a user-friendly PO processing system tailored toward small businesses.
This cloud-based platform allows retailers to create orders and purchase requests, manage spending, process invoices, and centralize the PO process.
Plus, Planergy’s software offers robust reporting features to ensure businesses have the necessary insights to improve productivity and accuracy metrics.
This system also has an application programming interface (API), which lets you connect Planergy to several 3rd-party integrations.
And yet, Planergy isn’t without its flaws—like its limited search functionality (for finding products to add to POs) and inability to export custom fields.
Along those same lines, multi-line invoices export with very little detail, making communication with your vendors much more challenging.
|Spend management, robust report filtering, centralized PO processing||Weak search functionality, can’t export custom fields or multi-line invoices||Contact Planergy for current pricing|
PairSoft helps middle-market and enterprise retailers simplify the PO approval process and manage their spending more effectively.
This software helps move approved requisition requests to PO creation. And it automatically generates audit logs containing all sorts of financial details to help your brand stay on budget.
PairSoft also supports real-time integrations with ERP applications like Microsoft Dynamics, Blackbaud, and NetSuite for an enhanced user experience.
That said, one of the biggest complaints is that setting up routing rules in PairSoft can be a real pain (and a major time suck).
Many customers also say they feel overwhelmed by the number of permissions options, which makes this functionality difficult to learn or use.
|Automated PO creation, seamless integrations, spend control||Inefficiencies (especially with routing rules), too many permissions options||Contact PairSoft for current pricing|
Xero’s software is a solid option for small, growing businesses that want to fast-track their POs and purchase order requests.
The Xero platform makes PO creation super simple thanks to its clean and modern interface. And it’s equipped with customizable templates (think: adding your logos and branding).
Moreover, you can instantly select items from a (pre-determined) inventory list and add those SKUs to your orders. Then, once your order is completed and approved, you can email it as PDF (from within Xero itself) for a simplified accounting system.
Still, Xero can be a pretty clunky system that isn’t intuitive for new users.
Worse yet, the reports it generates are not detail-oriented (read: they’re super basic). And it isn’t possible to tailor these reports to your needs, either.
The result? Xero doesn’t scale with your brand as your needs grow and become more complex.
|Customized templates and fonts, PO tracking, converting orders into invoices||Complex system with a big learning curve, ineffective reporting features||Starting at $3.25 per month|
Along with its payment solutions, QuickBooks Online is also equipped with PO software—making it an easy choice for retailers already using QBO for invoicing.
Plus, the user-friendly interface makes it simple to create quality POs and generate unique purchase order numbers.
After completing an order, QuickBooks will automate the rest of the PO process for you. Meaning, it’ll turn your PO into a bill complete with items, prices, and product quantities.
And since QuickBooks has built-in invoicing solutions, payments happen a lot more seamlessly than using separate systems for billing workflows.
The downside? QBO has a reputation for increasing its rates, specifically when you need to add extra features to the basic software functionality.
And a lot of customers have experienced hiccups with the QBO system that take considerable time to be addressed. So, you might miss your ideal restock window and stock out completely if anything goes wrong.
|Good for QuickBooks invoice users, automated billing, seamless payments||Surcharge for extra features, UI issues, and lags in functionality||Starting at $15 per month|
Coupa is an easy-to-use purchasing system for medium- to large-sized brands that need visibility and control over their spending.
One of the best things about Coupa is its simplicity. The interface walks you through the procurement process using a very basic search bar (this search bar can even alert you of which SKUs your vendors are selling at a discount).
On top of that, Coupa uses email and mobile app approvals to further simplify the e-procurement process. This software even has features dedicated to inventory optimization and supplier management to check all your supply chain flows.
The trouble is, Coupa’s implementation is a lot more time-consuming than its competitors.
There are also several shortcomings with its available integrations, which silos your inventory purchasing process.
|Flexible and easy-to-use system, spending visibility, supplier management solution||Long time for implementation, much to be desired with the integrations||Starting at $12.50 per month|
Basware’s web-based procurement software provides a clear view of everything your business has ordered, purchased, and received.
Like many tools on this list, Basware automates the approval and payment workflows. But it can also help you leverage volume orders, prevent overbuying, negotiate vendor rates, and minimize your total inventory costs.
Essentially, Basware analyzes both direct and indirect expenditures so you can consolidate orders, curb rogue spending, and check on supplier performance to reduce costs as much as possible.
It also has the capacity for touchless invoice processing, inventory and budget tracking, and detailed reporting on your most important analytics and KPIs.
And yet, Basware still comes up short with many key functionalities.
For starters, changes to vendor data don’t update in real-time. They usually take 24 hours to show up in the system (which is a huge lag for busy brands).
Also, with Basware, you can only process one invoice at a time, further slowing your team’s productivity.
|Automated payment processes, inventory tracking, in-depth reporting||Slow system updates, can’t process multiple invoices at the same time||Contact Basware for current pricing|
Hands down, Cogsy is the best purchase order software around. Its purchase order flow sets Shopify merchants up with a blank PO, then guides them along the purchasing process via restock recommendations. These handy recommendations guarantee you restock only what you need to meet customer demand. Nothing more, nothing less.
Purchase departments use purchase order software to automate essential tasks within the inventory procurement process. This software helps businesses generate purchase orders, streamline approval, and track order status.
The most common types of purchasing software include accounts payable software, procure-to-pay (P2P) software, and source-to–pay (S2P) software. These platforms can help retailers manage orders, invoices, and inventory more efficiently.