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What Is a Sales Order and How It Is Different From an Invoice


A purchase order is part of the purchase process, where the buyer provides details on the goods/services required. A sales order is part of the sales process, where the seller provides details on the goods/services that will be delivered. A quote or an estimate is given to the customers that are interested in buying your goods/services. When a quote is given, the buyer and the seller are still at the negotiating stage with regard to the price, quantity, and delivery of goods/services. The sales order is more of a concrete document that is issued as a confirmation of the newly formed contract. Interim invoice– This type of invoice is created when you need to break down the cost of a large project into smaller payments.


Your company pays the vendor invoice when it’s due, entering the payment in the accounting system and reducing accounts payable. The sales order is an essential document for accounting and inventory purposes, but what is the difference between an SO and other sales documents? There are important distinctions to be made between sales orders, quotes, purchase orders, and invoices. What customers send or receive often relies upon where they are in the purchase process.

What is a purchase order? What is a sales order? What is an invoice?

An interim invoice is created when you need to break down the cost of a large project into smaller payments. Instead of sending one invoice at the end, several small ones are sent as the project progresses. The helps to maintain a positive cash flow during long projects and keeps everything moving along smoothly. Purchase orders are used by buyers to initiate the purchasing process with a supplier. Sales orders are sent by suppliers to buyers after receiving a purchase order from the buyer – verifying details and the confirmation of the purchase. Invoices are sent by supplier to request a payment from a buying party once goods or services have been fully delivered by the supplier.

Once the has fulfilled the order, they will send an invoice for the products or services delivered to your company. A sales order is created when a customer places an order for products/services. Sales orders track the order before it is ready for delivery/billing to the customer.

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If the Whats The Difference Between A Sales Order And An Invoice? accepts the PO, it will become a legally binding document. Both entities can use the PO to track and manage the procurement process. The sales order is a legally binding contract on both the buyer and seller.

  • Some businesses address these demands by implementing financial software to manage their purchase orders and invoices.
  • Understanding the purpose and use of each of these documents is essential for smooth business operations.
  • When it comes to accounting, two important terms that are often confused are “sales order” and “invoice”.
  • But a purchase order is sent from the buyer to a vendor to place an order for a particular set of goods or to request a service.
  • A purchase order is most commonly used to place an order for goods or services.

On the other hand, an invoice is a bill for goods or services rendered and is used to request payment for those goods or services. A purchase order number is a unique identifier assigned to a purchase order document. The PON is typically composed of numbers and letters and is used to track the progress of the order from creation to delivery. As a legally binding document, if there is a dispute between your organization and the supplier, a purchase order can be used as evidence of the agreement between both parties. For reference, an invoice contains the original purchase order number.

Invoice Approval

A purchase order is a binding contract between the buyer and seller. Purchase orders are external documents because they are sent to vendors outside your company. Purchase orders are either approved or matched with approved purchase requisitions in the system. Purchase orders include line items for each item number being ordered and are numbered for system tracking.

What is the purpose of a sales order?

A sales order is a commercial document generated by a seller and issued to a customer. It specifies the sale of goods or services and details the sales' specifics, including pricing, quantity, and quality of goods or services provided.

Purchase orders and invoices are purchase-related commercial communications. The purchase order number should be referenced in any communication between suppliers and buyers regarding the order. Doing so will help to ensure that all parties are on the same page and avoid any confusion. If there are any changes to the original order, a purchase order can serve as a reminder of what was originally requested. This can help avoid any confusion or miscommunication between your organization and the supplier.

When the buyer displays intent of purchasing products, a quote is prepared by the seller and sent to the buyer. Upon receiving the approval of the quote, the seller converts the quote into a sales order. The seller then creates an invoice and sends it to the customer. After the invoice is paid, the seller packages the products and ships them to the buyer.

An invoice is created by a business to request a payment that’s due from someone who purchased goods or services from them. Imagine a purchase order as a formal grocery list that you’d send to a grocery store to indicate what food items you intended to buy from them. While Sales order is the first step in the processing of the order, the invoice is the last step in the completion of the deal. The sales order is issued by the seller only when the buyer has assured of purchasing products.

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