Everything Store Owners Should Know About Retail Receipts

Retail receipts

Tech is transforming the world of retail with each passing day. But that doesn’t mean retail receipts have become obsolete just yet. They’re so ingrained in everyday life that most of us hardly notice them. However, they do play an important supporting role in financial transactions.

Learn the definition of a retail receipt, its purpose, and how retailers can go about creating one with the best practice tips below. 

What is a sales receipt?

A record of sale—otherwise known as a retail receipt—is issued as proof of purchase once a sales transaction has been completed. 

Receipts serve a multitude of purposes, some more apparent than others. For example, issuing and keeping accurate records of retail receipts can help business owners with inventory management. They can also be leveraged to analyze customer behavior. 

Importance of retail receipts

  • Tracking sales
  • Bookkeeping
  • Returns and exchanges
  • Business taxes
  • Basket size data

In a retail setting, sales receipts serve a multitude of uses, including:

Tracking sales

Profit and loss statements, weekly or quarterly cash flow, or estimated profit can all be calculated by keeping a record of retail receipts—whether you’re working with digital or paper records. 

Bookkeeping

Right along with tracking sales, bookkeeping relies on accurately recording and organizing sales receipts. Any time books need to be balanced, taxes need to be accounted for, or a transaction needs revisiting, sales receipts help businesses maintain accurate accounting practices. 

Returns and exchanges

As a customer-facing benefit, retail receipts enable the easy return or exchange of items. Customers can use sales receipts as proof of purchase to ensure retailers offer a favorable customer experience. 


Manage store returns better with Shopify POS

Only Shopify lets you accept returns and exchanges for online orders at your store and updates inventory quantities instantly. Use gift cards and same-day discounts to incentivize exchanges and turn more store returns into revenue.


Business taxes

Retail receipts serve as proof of transactions that are necessary when filing business taxes. In the case of an audit, businesses have receipts as proof of all their financial transactions. 

Basket size data

Receipts give retailers a glimpse into both basket size and basket share to get real insight into what consumers are buying, how much of each product they’re buying, and what product categories are generating the most sales. 

💡 PRO TIP: Try using apps to upsell and cross-sell more effectively. Apps like Marsello and Frequently Bought Together integrate with Shopify POS and recommend products to store staff based on what they’ve added to a customer’s cart, making it easier than ever to suggest relevant products, increase basket sizes and order value.

Types of retail receipts

  • Paper receipts
  • Digital receipts
  • Packing slips
  • Gift receipts
  • Carbon copy receipts
  • Handwritten receipts

Retail receipts come in a variety of formats. 

Paper receipts

Proof of a financial transaction can still be made on paper. This usually involves hardware with printing features that ensure both sellers and buyers obtain a record of the receipt. 

Digital receipts

Digital receipts—which are sent to our phones through SMS features or our email—are becoming the norm both for in-person transactions as well as digital purchases. 

A recent survey by Green America suggests a whopping 90% of Americans want retailers to start issuing digital receipts. The reasoning behind the preference? They’re both better for the environment and easier to keep track of. 

Packing slips

A packing slip, sometimes called a packing list or shipping list, outlines the goods being sent to the buyer, along with the essential delivery information like address and SKU numbers. It’s often attached to the outside of a package along with a copy included inside.

Gift receipts

Gift receipts come in handy, especially during the holidays. While gift receipts include the basic information any other receipt would, they exclude the total price of the purchase. It’s a convenient way for customers to give gifts with a receipt without showing the total amount spent, in case the recipient of that gift would like to exchange it. 

💡 PRO TIP: With Shopify POS., shoppers can return or exchange items they bought in store or online as many times as they need to be satisfied with their purchase. You don’t have to resort to issuing store credit or gift cards, and customers have the freedom to choose being refunded or exchanging their purchase for another product.

Carbon copy receipts

Carbon copy receipts are as old as they sound—though still useful for businesses that use them. A carbon copy receipt is usually a handwritten receipt that’s drafted on a pad of receipt papers. 

A carbon copy page goes under each new receipt slip as it's being written. It’s a handy way to manually create two copies of the same receipt so both the buyer and seller can keep a copy. 

Handwritten receipts

Handwritten receipts are written records of a transaction. These types of receipts can often include signatures to verify their authenticity. 

Generating sales receipts

Generating sales receipts can be done in several ways, depending on how you want to deliver them to customers. Here are the three most popular methods.

POS System

A robust POS system will not only include receipt issuing features, it will also enable you to customize things like the header and footer of receipts, or even the type of information you want to include in each receipt. 

💡 PRO TIP: With Shopify POS, you can easily customize your text, printed, and email receipts to make them easier for customers and staff to understand. Personalize your receipts by adding your logo, store contact information, staff who handled the sale, customer information, and more.

Cash register

We’ve all come across the classic cash register receipts at some point. Many retailers use a simple cash register system to record transactions and print out receipts for customers. However, older cash register equipment may not have more advanced features like the ability to email receipts to customers. 

Email receipts (or digital receipts)

If you've ever made an online purchase, you’ve been sent an email receipt. These receipts are convenient, entirely digital, and retailers don’t have to waste paper to create them. 

What to include in a receipt

You’re setting up your receipt system. What should you include in each receipt to ensure maximum utility? Ensuring the basics are included is a must. 

Transaction information:

  • The PCU number of each item
  • The quantity of each product
  • The sale price of each product
  • Any applicable special discounts or offers
  • The total of the transaction before taxes 
  • The total with taxes
  • Any coupons

Business information:

  • Business branding
  • Business name
  • Address
  • Business phone number
  • The date and time of the transaction
  • Name of the sales associate that completed the transaction

Retail receipt tips

  • Leverage email
  • Feature logo
  • Demonstrate savings
  • Highlight products
  • Promote loyalty programs
  • Offer discounts and promos
  • Include surveys
  • Promote social media channels
  • Issue e-receipts to increase convenience

How much can you optimize your receipt strategy to generate more sales? Well, you’d be surprised at what you can do with receipts these days, including leveraging them to gather data and analytics to optimize your buyer journey.

Bottom line? Retail receipt marketing is a cost-effective way to generate sales because it’s a medium your business owns (and that it has to issue anyway). Take a look at a few marketing ideas below. 

Leverage email

Emails and receipts go well together. Why? If you get customers used to getting their receipts emailed to them, you’re also growing your email list, which you can use to continue selling your products as part of your greater omnichannel marketing strategy

💡 PRO TIP: Want to create beautifully branded emails to promote your next product launch? Use Shopify Email to create, send, and track campaigns, all from within Shopify—no coding experience required.

Feature logo

As a business, you want to do everything you can to ensure brand recall. By including your business logo in your receipts you’re doing exactly that. Consider adding your logo on your receipts as a small way to maintain brand awareness. 

Demonstrate savings

Did your customer save money on their purchase thanks to your special deals? Make it known by outlining it clearly in the receipt. It adds visibility to a transaction for customers and it enables them to see how much they’re saving by shopping with you. 

Highlight products

You’re probably familiar with how long CVS receipts can be. It’s the business’s way of highlighting coupons, special product sales, and upcoming deals. As a retailer, consider experimenting with special ways to highlight your best products. With this strategy, you can ensure products that are hard to sell move off shelves at a faster pace. 

Promote loyalty programs

Loyalty programs are great for customer retention, bigger basket sizes, and a higher customer lifetime value. Receipts are a great way to let your customer base know your loyalty program exists. 

With the use of technology like QR codes, loyalty programs become more accessible because it reduces the extra steps they’d otherwise have to take to get on board. For example, within the Shopify POS dashboard, retailers can download and install the Shocodes app to start adding QR codes to print receipts, packing slips, and anything else where they’ll perform well. 

As customers use QR codes to access perks through loyalty programs, retailers can track conversion rates, sales attribution, and traffic numbers. 

📌 GET STARTED: Choose from hundreds of loyalty apps in the Shopify App Store and start rewarding shoppers for purchases they make both online and in-store.

Offer discounts and promos

Offering discounts and promos are classic ways to increase store revenue. Advertising discounts and promos on receipts you’re already either printing or sending by mail ensures you make the best use of your receipt strategy. 

Using receipt marketing to promote discounts and special deals can look like:

  • Downloadable discount coupons attached to your digital receipts that can be used for in-person transactions
  • Attaching QR codes to digital and print coupons for special promos
  • Including special discount codes in digital receipts to encourage additional purchases
  • Attaching a visual gift guide to both digital and print receipts for holiday promos

💡 PRO TIP: With Shopify POS, you can create dollar or percentage discounts that get automatically applied to individual items or entire carts at checkout. Once you set up an automatic discount, it works for both online and in-store purchases.

Include surveys

Surveys are a valuable way to gather customer data for mapping your marketing strategy to the needs and wants of your customers. Including a discount or special deal in exchange for completing a survey is an effective way to increase survey completion rates. 

Including surveys within a receipt, whether digital or physical, can be as easy as editing your receipt system with a quick call to action and a link or QR code to your survey page. 

Promote social media channels

Take the chance to use any extra space in your receipts to promote your social media channels. It can be a passive way to ensure your business’s social profiles grow steadily, which helps you create additional customer touchpoints. 

Issue e-receipts to increase convenience

As highlighted earlier, the majority of Americans have a strong preference for digital receipts because of their convenience. As a way to stand out amongst competitors, consider giving customers the option of receiving a digital receipt. This not only saves your business overhead expenses in receipt paper and hardware, it also streamlines the checkout process. 

Leverage receipts at your retail store

Retail receipts play an important role in the transaction process. They’re there to ensure accuracy and offer a record of that transaction for all parties involved. Beyond their utility in the sales process, receipts can be leveraged to generate sales and repeat customers by using them as yet another sales channel.

Streamline your checkout with Shopify POS

Shopify’s fully customizable checkout helps keep your most used apps, discounts, and products at your fingertips so you can fly through checkout. Add products, apply discounts, create customer profiles, and accept payments faster than ever before.