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Purchase order financing helps businesses that need cash to fulfill product orders by paying your supplier for the manufacturing and transportation of goods up front, before you receive payment from your customers. The funds cannot be used for anything other than the purchase of specific goods needed to fulfill your customer’s order.

PO financing is a great way to help your business grow without taking on bank debt or selling equity in your company. If sales outpace your incoming cash flow then purchase order financing might be a good fit to fulfill a new customer order.

Purchase order financing is funding you receive before you’ve delivered good to your customers, and before you’ve invoiced them. If you’ve already delivered goods or services to a B2B or B2G customer and invoiced that customer, invoice factoring is the right option, not PO financing.

Who Uses PO Financing & When?

There are many situations where purchase order financing might be right for your business. Each is centered around the need for cash to make purchases from suppliers that you can’t afford, but need in order to fulfill a customer’s order. Companies that use purchase order financing include:

  • Distributors
  • Wholesalers
  • Resellers
  • Importers or Exporters of Finished Goods
  • Outsourced Manufacturers

Purchase order financing can help you with various scenarios that include:

  • Seasonal Sales Spikes: At the beginning of a seasonal sales spike you may receive purchase orders that exceed your existing working capital.
  • Substantial Growth: If your sales growth is outpacing existing small business lines of credit due to growth then you may be a good candidate for PO financing.
  • Consistently Tight Cash Flow: Many small businesses have consistent cash flow problems at specific points of the month on a consistent basis.

(Note: This is not an all-inclusive list of when purchase order financing might work, but instead are some of the most common reasons it is chosen as a financing solution.)

General Terms of PO Financing

With purchase order financing you can fund up to 100% of the total cost of goods needed to fulfill a written customer order. Typically the application process is easy for the borrower. All you need to provide the financing company is a purchase order submitted by your customer and documentation of the costs you would owe your supplier to fulfill that order. The purchase order will need to detail a certain number of goods to be purchased and a specific price the customer is paying for those goods.

Each PO financing company will have their own minimum profit margin qualifications, but all start at 15% or more. You can expect the entire process to last about 1-2 weeks before your supplier is paid. Your supplier is paid through either a letter of credit guaranteeing payment for the goods (most common), or by a direct cash payment.

You should consider the time it will take your supplier to manufacture or provide the goods you need after they’ve received their payment. This could add to the timeframe in which your customer will receive the goods.

Purchase Order Financing Costs

Purchase order financing is an expensive short term funding solution. The fees vary based on the volume and risk of the transaction to the financing company. Most purchase order financing companies we’ve reviewed charge a percentage of the financed amount for the first 30 days in repayment. They then charge a different amount afterwards that varies on cost and the amount of days until it is charged again. The costs vary industry-wide from 1.8% to 6% per month.

Purchase Order Financing Qualifications

It’s pretty easy to qualify for purchase order financing as long as you deal with established, reputable customers and suppliers. Even newer businesses can qualify if you have verifiable industry experience.

The most important qualifications are that you’re a B2B or B2G business that sells tangible goods with a minimum of 15% profit margins. And that your supplier and customer involved in the transaction are creditworthy.

Profit margin is the one requirement that varies the most between financing companies. We’ve seen the minimum requirement as high as 25%, but typically it is set at 15% or 20%. The profit margins are calculated per transaction by using your customer’s written purchase order and your supplier’s written invoice.

As always, Alternative Funding Partners is your source for information on different financing options. Have questions about purchase order financing, or any other type of business loan? We’re always ready to take your calls and inquiries.