You've seen them a thousand times. Everyday when you stop to pick up bread or milk you are given one at checkout. This little piece of paper you've received called a "sales receipt" is part of the seller-buyer contract. A receipt is also a hardworking tool that can help to signal many things to management in order to keep your company on track.
If you are a vendor offering supplies, a retail store selling clothes, or a gas station dispensing fuel, you will use the services of a sales receipt. While sale receipts are individualized according to what information your company needs, there are basic forms and templates you can download for free on the Internet to adopt for your business' records (see links below).
The business name, address, contact information or phone usually heads up the list. It is also good marketing to include a logo, a public service greeting or a helpful note thanking the customer for using your business. Or you can even steer the customer to an Internet website.
The date of the transaction is always listed and, some receipt functions, at Walmart for example, lists the time the transaction took place. The best reason for a time stamp is if your company will accept "return merchandise with receipt." If the purchase is from a large retail store, warehouse, shopping center or grocery, often the person who transacted the sale---the clerk or employee---will have their number on the ticket when they log in to their station, cash register or machine. A ticket or transaction number can also be assigned instead.
Next will be a product description or UPC (universal product code) that is often generated from bar coding; or a item number can appear on the receipt as well. This helps to track the inventory sold, which can be automated in larger companies and it can also indicate if the item was sold singly, in lots or special-sized packages.
The cost of the item is usually printed next (sometimes with a designation if the product was "on sale"), then a subtotal, which will add the number of item's costs together; then a line for state sales tax (or any special taxes levied) and finally, the total. After the total, the customer will render his payment, usually in the form of check, cash or credit. That number is figured against the total---to give "change" or money due back to the customer on a simple cash transaction, for example.
Other types of company advertising, directions for a contest entry, or an explanation of how a check might be returned for "electronic" payment called an Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT), can go on the receipt here. An EFT is a debit made automatically against the customer's bank account.
There are "point of sale" systems or software that companies can purchase that allows all their business transactions to be monitored. This is helpful if the owner wants to scrutinize stock or keep a log on inventory in an automated fashion.
Sales receipts and invoices are not the same thing and will be handled differently in various accounting program packages such as QuickBooks, Quicken, MYOB Business and others (see link below for review of the best). Invoices are generally used for estimates of service (a bid for a landscaping job for example), sales orders, or when customers owe a business money for a job or service already rendered---they will receive an invoice for customer payment due. Invoice forms can also be used to track a customer's sales history. And too, it can be used when the customer is given a period of time in which to pay. Payment can be "net 30," meaning payment is due 30 days after invoice. This would be helpful for a buyer who only issues checks twice a month for example. A business will typically use a sales receipt or an invoice system, not both.