The Buyers Tool Box

Buyer’s Toolbox Series: Manage Purchase Orders
Join me in this Buyer’s Toolbox Series as I cover the tools I used on a regular basis while I was a corporate buyer. Feel free to learn, interpret, and adopt anything that might work for your business!
The Inflows
As the lead buyer managing a $20m business across 10 locations, I had a few things on my to-do list.
Line showings, assortment strategies, private label, vendor relations, & merchandising are just a few things that come to mind…. But most importantly, managing the inflows & outflows of my departments took priority.
Timing is everything! We need product to sell product at our brick & mortar locations. We depend on our vendors to responsibly ship our product when we committed to it. We carefully time our shipments to make the bigger vision come alive. What makes this easier?
Product is the lifeline of our independent retail business. We need to keep everyone in the loop (and keep ourselves sane) with a tool I call a PO Log.
We need a schedule to communicate our purchase orders (POs) internally to store staff, marketing, and even accounting. The PO Log guides our external efforts too–it’s the reference sheet that guides conversations with our vendors (revise this order, release that order, cancel the back orders, close out the PO, extend the cancel date, etc.)
A whole slew of actions stem from our POs. Store staff prepares to receive, merchandise, and sell the new products. Marketing prepares to talk about the new merchandise, themes, and brands. Accounting prepares the accounts payable and records the discounts, dating, and other terms.
PO Log
A PO Log is simply a summary of incoming orders. Common fields are: PO #, vendor, ship date, cancel date, units ordered, extended cost, extended (expected) retail.
Other fields might include payment terms (discounts & dating), revision deadline, department/category, notes, etc. Once product starts shipping, keep track of receiving progress.
Use the spreadsheet platform of your choice and sort the document by ship date.
Voila! Now you have a schedule of incoming product that’s useful for not only yourself, but also the store staff, marketing, and accounting!
Other Benefits of This Tool
Besides department unification & self assurance, a PO Log will save you money and avoid major headaches. We ensure that receiving is on-track and on-budget to realize our goals and to maintain healthy metrics.
What happens when things don’t go according to plan with your vendors? When something shows up late? Early? Partially shipped? Or even to the wrong location?
You’re already ahead of it! The PO Log makes it simple to review POs, make status updates, and take notes…all in one spot. Now you have major negotiation power with your vendor because you’re tracking their performance. Ask for discounts, free shipping, extra days dating!
Need An Example?
Are you thinking, this sounds great but where do I start?
Reach out to me at and I will share the framework with you!

Carrie Watson

Carrie started her retail life working at Fossil Inc. for 3 years where she discovered merchandise planning. She eventually moved to Austin to join the buying team of a specialty outdoor retailer for 5 years. As the retail merchandise manager, Carrie used RetailORBIT® with her buying team with efficiency and confidence. She experienced the benefits of using this system first hand and decided to help others discover this phenomenal platform.

Carrie’s passion is to encourage communal commerce by coaching its retailers. Her mission is help business owners and buyers find peace of mind by adding stability to their cash flow and encouraging sustainable operations. Retail coaching with Carrie is a great way to find the balance.