Many smaller companies refrain from sending their customers a written order confirmation after receiving an order. The reasons vary: lack of time, greater flexibility, or habit. However, once a sample written order confirmation has been created, the effort is very limited. A written order confirmation helps to avoid misunderstandings and annoyances. And it can also be used for customer retention and marketing purposes.

1.consequences of a missing written order confirmation

If you submit an offer to a customer, misunderstandings can quickly arise in the hectic pace of everyday business:

  • How quickly has one provided oneself with e.g. article number, product description, order quantity, delivery date, delivery address or terms of payment? And if the customer was inadvertently quoted a lower price, for example, he will insist on this price upon delivery.
  • It also becomes problematic if a customer deliberately falsely claims that he was quoted a lower price.

If the customer insists on his position, you will usually lose out without written documentation or confirmation – unless you can prove the opposite to the customer, for example with a witness who was present at the meeting.

Practical example: Thomas Smith sells gifts to private and business customers. As a rule, he delivers against invoice – for private customers without and for business customers with a payment term of 30 days. So far, he has taken most orders by telephone and only confirmed them to his customers by phone. He has so far dispensed with a written order confirmation because this allows him to deliver more quickly and flexibly.

Once the order has been placed, he assembles the gifts as agreed and sends them to the customers. There have been several problems with this recently:

After delivery, a large business customer complained that Müller had delivered the wrong gifts and wants more than 100 gifts exchanged and compensation paid because the customer had to get other gifts.

Another customer, whom Müller has already delivered to, stated that he had not ordered at all and indicated that Müller could pick up the gifts from him at his own expense after making an appointment.

In a third case, a customer called and complained that the delivery was too late. The occasion for which he needed the gifts had already passed and he had to get a replacement from another supplier.

Smith has lost orders as a result of this and several other cases, and has incurred costs. In future, therefore, he intends not only to confirm each order to customers in writing, but also to take action only when customers send him written confirmation.

2. written confirmation of the order: Requirements

You should communicate your requirements to your customers and inform them that you will not process the order until they also send a written confirmation back. An order confirmation should have at least the following components:

  • Your own company address
  • Name and address of the contract partner
  • In the case of companies, contact person/responsible person, if applicable
  • Subject, e.g. with the following content: Order confirmation for order no. 12345 dated 1. 10. 2015
  • Formula of thanks as well as sentence for order confirmation
  • Exact article/service description with order quantity
  • Prices per item and, if applicable, information on price fixing (until when are prices and conditions valid?)
  • Terms of payment, e.g. payment deadline, cash discount, rebates, free/chargeable delivery, other agreements
  • Confirmation of delivery to the sender’s address or, if applicable, a different delivery address
  • Thank you and/or greeting
  • Place, date, signature
  • Line as form for order reconfirmation by the customer

Practical tip: It is sufficient to quote net prices to commercial customers and to refer to the statutory sales tax. For private customers, however, you should always show gross prices.

You can also use an order confirmation to thank the customer for the order and to assure the customer of error-free performance. In addition, an order confirmation can also be used for promotional purposes and to offer the customer further products or additional services. If a customer wants to purchase additional products or services, all you need to do is update the order confirmation and ask them to confirm.

All information and details in our articles and information have been compiled to the best of our knowledge. However, they are provided without liability. This information cannot replace individual advice in specific cases.

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