For boutique businesses, handwritten sales vouchers remain important point-of-sale records of sales transactions. Larger businesses have largely replaced handwritten vouchers with software that serves similar purposes. In the context of online sales promotions, a sales voucher may represent a record of the sale of some service offered at a discount for a limited time.

Definition of Sales Voucher

A sales voucher is a record of a sales transaction. Historically, the sales voucher was often a carbon copy of the sales invoice given to a customer. When the customer didn't receive a written record, the sales voucher was the original invoice.

Purposes of Sales Vouchers

A sales voucher has several purposes. Because it originates at the point of sale, it provides reliable real-time information to accounting, inventory and management -- to the latter by providing information about when and where sales occur, who the buyers are and how effectively each employee is selling. Where employees are paid on commission, the sales voucher provides information for commission payments. Where a store provides store credit to customers, the sales voucher provides the information to the credit and billing departments. Where disputes arise between the store and its customers regarding a sale, the sales voucher provides documentation that may resolve the dispute.

Features of Sales Vouchers

One of the most important pieces of information on a sales voucher is the voucher number. Ideally, all sales vouchers should be issued numerically. Where there is more than one voucher source -- for example, where there are multiple departments in a retail store -- each voucher should have both a numerical and geographical identifier, providing records of consecutive sales in each department.

Contemporary Equivalents

Credit card information and sales management software have largely replaced handwritten vouchers, providing all the information of a sales voucher and more, in computerized form using data from cash-registers or handheld devices, which distribute the information electronically to various departments. A waitperson, for example, can take down diners' orders on a handheld device programmed with point-of-sale software designed specifically for restaurants. The information is instantly distributed to the kitchen for fulfillment and later becomes the basis of the customer's check. It also provides food inventory and credit-card billing information to management, gives the menu-planning chef direct information about the popularity of menu items and provides tip and sales tax information and data for accounting.

Sales Vouchers of a Different Kind

Sometimes the term "sales voucher" refers to a document entitling a customer to a discount. This kind of voucher has an indirect relationship to historical uses of the term "sales voucher." A clinic, for example, may extend for a brief time an online offer for health screening at a discount. A customer who may have no immediate need for the screening can buy the voucher and present it to the clinic later to verify the sale and receive the discount.