One of the most common accounting documents is the invoice. In most cases, especially when the buyer wants to claim some kind of deduction, customers on your e-commerce website will require an invoice. That coupled with the fact that taxation is always territory-specific, makes it important that the invoice for your e-commerce sales includes a certain minimum level of information. When you are designing an invoice for your e-commerce business, here are some pieces of information that you should consider including:
The Word "Invoice"
To make it absolutely clear that the document is an official invoice, it is important to include the word invoice prominently at the top. In some cases, the document could serve as an invoice plus something. This something could be:
- Delivery note
- Debit note
- Courier details
Unique Invoice Serial Number
Since this is an official tax document, you should follow some logic of assigning a serial number to each invoice. In the simplest form, the serial number is just one number greater than the previous serial number. In a somewhat more complex system, you may initialize the serial number each financial year. In still more complex systems, you may want to have an alphanumeric serial numbering. In this system, the letter could indicate the specific customer or product category.
Your Official Business Name, and Any Secondary Names
Your invoice must include your official business name. If there are other associated names, those must be mentioned as well. An example could be "Quality Merchants" as the business name, and "a franchise of XYZ Online Markets" as a secondary indicator.
At the absolute minimum, your city and country should be mentioned. In the absence of this information, the location of taxation would not be clear. It is a good idea to include your complete street address, phone number, and email address. Additional contact information might also make sense in come cases. Some such additional information could be:
- Branch office address
- Separate listing of email addresses for a different department such as customer service, billing, sales support, etc.
Taxation and Other Business Registration Codes
If you add tax in the form of service tax, VAT, GST, or some other kind, it is necessary for you to include your registration codes for that specific kind of tax. Also, depending upon your location, it might be necessary to list your business registration id on the invoice.
An invoice is not a bearer instrument. It means that an invoice is not the property of the person who possesses it. Instead, the invoice has to be addressed to a specific entity. So, you must list the buyer. Usually, the official full name is adequate. However, most e-commerce merchants prefer to include the street address and email address too.
The name, size (if applicable), type (if applicable), quantity, unit price, and total price must be mentioned for each and every item that the customer purchases.
Additions and Deductions to Costs
Additions could include, postage, shipping handling, taxation, previous outstanding dues. Subtractions could include discounts, credits, coupons, and the like.
Details and Modes of Payment
There should be a mention of the various methods by which the customer can pay. It could include details about the name in which the check should be drawn, or the PayPal id to which the amount should be remitted, or bank details. In most B2C e-commerce, the invoice is actually generated after the payment has been received. In that case, the details of payment received should be mentioned.
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