ARO Meaning in Shipping [Payment, Risks, Pros & Cons]



Purchasing goods and services online from an e-commerce website starts when you make an order and ends when you receive goods or services.

Unlike over-the-counter purchases, where you pay for and receive your goods or services on the spot, online purchases involve many processes like verification of billing and shipping addresses, payment method, and delivery.

The online transaction process duration can vary, and this variability is where the concept of ARO, or ‘After Receipt of Order,’ comes into play. It denotes the time from when an order is received to when delivery or payment completion occurs.

However, it’s important to note that the ARO period is not strictly defined up to 4 weeks; instead, it can significantly vary based on the specifics of the transaction, industry standards, and the policies of the involved company. Understanding ARO’s meaning in shipping is crucial for all parties involved in the transaction.

ARO in shipping is an acronym for ‘After Receipt of Order.’ It refers to the number of days a customer waits before receiving goods or services ordered. For sellers, ARO refers to the period within which the buyer should make payment for goods or services before they are delivered.

In the context of ARO, it’s essential to understand that while the term can influence both the payment schedule and the shipping timeline, its primary application is to the timeline from order receipt to the start of the delivery process. The initiation of the payment process under an ARO framework can begin immediately after the order is received; however, the specific terms of payment within ARO agreements can vary and might not always be directly tied to the shipping schedule. This distinction highlights the flexibility within ARO practices, where payment and shipping timelines are managed according to the agreement between buyer and seller, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.

Since there are many terms used in e-commerce, such as billing, clearance, and ARO. This post highlights the various terms and phrases used alongside ARO in shipping and its advantages and disadvantages.

Lead Time in ARO

The period known as lead time spans from when the seller receives an order to the actual delivery of goods. However, it’s important to differentiate this from ARO (‘After Receipt of Order’).

While lead time includes all processes from order receipt to delivery, encompassing production or procurement if necessary, ARO specifically refers to a phase within the broader lead time.

In essence, ARO is a subset of lead time, particularly relevant in scenarios involving production or procurement. This distinction clarifies that ARO focuses on the post-order phase leading up to the initiation of delivery, whereas lead time covers the entire duration, including any necessary production or procurement processes.

Suppose you want to order electronics from an e-commerce website. You start by filling an order where you select the products and choose your preferred payment options and shipping method.

When the company receives your order, the lead time for your purchase begins. During this time, you will pay for the goods before they are delivered to your address. The lead time ends when you acknowledge receipt of the goods.

ARO 8 Weeks

Some manufacturers and distributors do not have inventories. When a customer makes an order, its delivery is affected fast if the materials required are available. Orders whose materials are not available take longer to be delivered.

Lead times, including those designated as ARO periods, can significantly vary, influenced by factors such as industry norms, the specific nature of the products, and the operational practices of individual companies.

It is not entirely accurate to generalize that an order’s delivery lead time is about eight weeks, or to specify that US-based companies have a lead time range of 7-9 weeks, with other regions like China experiencing up to 20 weeks.

Such figures can be misleading without proper context. Instead, it’s crucial to understand that lead times are flexible and can differ widely, reflecting the complex dynamics of supply chain management, production capabilities, and regional logistical challenges.

Bill of Lading

After payment is complete, the seller initiates the shipping process and sends the goods to the customer’s specified address.

The bill of lading plays a crucial role at this stage, serving not only as a document listing the types of goods and their quantities but also fulfilling several key functions. It acts as a receipt for freight services, signifying that the carrier has received the cargo as described.

Moreover, it serves as a legally binding contract between the carrier and the shipper regarding the transportation of the goods.

Lastly, it functions as a document of title for the goods, which can be important for ownership and customs purposes. This multifaceted document is essential for the legal and logistical aspects of shipping, ensuring clarity and security for both parties involved.

ARO Week

For already manufactured goods, the lead time is relatively short. If a company affects an order from a customer within seven working days, the lead time is equivalent to one week, called ARO week.

ARO Delivery Date

When a customer sends an order to a company, the company presents an agreement where the buyer agrees to make payment within a given period. The customer should complete the payment before the delivery date.

Suppose you make an order for software from a company on 1st March 2022 and sign an agreement that you will complete payment in 21 days. The 21st day from the day the company received your order (March 22nd) is the ARO delivery date for your transaction.

On the ARO delivery date, the buying-selling process should be complete, and the customer should have the order delivered. A summary of the transaction process:

Invoice NumberInvoice DateShipping DatePayment period
286221-3-2222-3-22ARO 21 Days

Is ARO the Same as After Receipt Payment?

In the context of e-commerce transactions, it’s important to distinguish between ARO (After Receipt of Order) payment terms and ARP (After Receipt Payment).

While ARO arrangements allow for the shipping process to begin even before payment is fully completed, with the expectation that payment will be finalized by the ARO delivery date, ARP, or ‘payment in advance,’ necessitates that the full payment be received by the seller before the goods are shipped.

This clear differentiation helps both buyers and sellers understand their obligations and the sequence of payment and shipping, ensuring smoother transaction processes.

ARO Payment: Is it Risky?

In ARO transactions, both sellers and buyers face several risks. For sellers, initiating shipping before the ARO delivery date carries the risk of non-payment, leading to potential losses including the cost of shipping. Beyond financial risks, sellers must also navigate challenges related to inventory management, especially if goods are dispatched before payment is secured, which can affect stock levels and operational planning. Moreover, ARO transactions can lead to disputes over product quality or compliance with specifications, further complicating the transaction process.

From the buyer’s perspective, starting payment immediately after an agreement introduces risks if the goods are not delivered as expected. This could include receiving items that don’t meet agreed-upon standards or specifications, leading to potential disputes. Additionally, the management of returns and exchanges becomes more complex in an ARO context, as discrepancies need to be resolved within the framework of the initial agreement, often before payment is completed. Such scenarios underscore the importance of clear terms and effective communication between buyers and sellers to mitigate these risks.

Depending on the nature of the goods, the relationship between the buyer and the seller, and payment options, the shipping process may start before payment is complete or after.

Advantages and Disadvantages of ARO

The impact of Accounts Receivable Ordering (ARO) on business transactions is nuanced, offering a mix of advantages and disadvantages that can vary significantly across different industries, the nature of the goods or services involved, and the specific terms agreed upon by the parties. ARO can foster trust and streamline operations, enhancing efficiency and potentially reducing the time between order placement and shipping. This method supports long-term business relationships by demonstrating reliability and commitment to service. However, the reliance on mutual trust and the potential for financial losses if agreements are not respected introduce risks. Additionally, the management of cash flow can become more complex, particularly in transactions with extended lead times.

It’s important to recognize that the advantages and disadvantages of ARO are not one-size-fits-all but depend on the context of each transaction. This variability underscores the need for clear communication and well-defined agreements tailored to the specific requirements and risks of the industries and parties involved.


  1. It is easier to account for money received since the customers pay for the goods and services within an agreed period.
  2. The seller can receive all payments before the shipping process starts, especially if the lead time is short
  3. It fosters trust between the buyer and the seller, which may lead to a long-term business relationship.
  4. It saves time since the transaction process has to end within a specified period according to the agreement between the customer and the seller.
  5. It improves efficiency in manufacturing firms since goods ordered have to be delivered within a set lead time.
  6. The shipping process can start before payment is complete hence saving the customer time.


  1. It is not ideal for first-time purchases since it requires mutual trust between the buyer and the seller.
  2. Failure by one party to adhere to the agreement may lead to losses
  3. Not suitable for a one-time purchase such as gifts
  4. The buyer may wait long before receiving goods after completing payment.
  5. Monitoring cash flow is difficult in cases where the lead time is long

Final Thoughts

After receiving orders, payment methods and delivery of goods and services are suitable for established businesses. It simplifies the process of tracking cash flow within a company improves efficiency and time management and is ideal for parties willing to build a long-term business relationship.

Dmitry S

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