This week we look at the three most common forms of invoice presentation in the food industry.  I'm sorry to say that a clean and legible invoice won't ensure that you get paid on time, but from experience I can say a sloppy one is much more likely to cause delays and confusion.

Invoices : Laser, Multi-Part, or Paperless

For the purpose of this conversation we're going to use invoice to describe the document that is presented to the customer at time of delivery and left with them for payment.  Frequently this document is marked up with corrections, returns, and is signed by the receiver.  The three most common forms of invoices in use today are a laser printed, multi-part impact printed, and paperless (PDF or EDI).


  • Laser Printed: Approx $0.04 per page printed.
  • Mutli-Part Printed: Approx $0.10 per form page printed (2 part)
  • Paperless: No printing cost, may have EDI transmission cost and higher equipment costs.

With the assumption that the customer is keeping a copy and signing a copy the laser printed is slightly cheaper than the multi-part.  The paperless option is a no-cost winner, but does require the driver to be equipped with a smart-phone or tablet for signature capture.

Legibility and Mark-up

  • Laser Printed: Requires carbon paper, or rewriting on both copies.
  • Multi-Part Printed: Handwriting carries through multiple copies.
  • Paperless: Updates and signature capture on electronic device.

Paperless signature capture is the clear winner for legibility and mark-up as notes can be typed directly onto the invoice and the signature can be captured without risk of handwriting and legibility concerns or tearing, water, or other stains on the invoice.  Multi-Part forms come in second as the long-standing standard, and Laser Printed options have the most hassle associated with markups forcing users to re-write notes or carry carbon paper.

Retention and Reprint

  • Laser Printed: Good copying quality and scanning resolution.
  • Multi-Part Printed: Poor copy quality and scanning options.
  • Paperless: Excellent reprint capabilities and retention.

The darker print and thicker paper of laser printing allows for easier copying and scanning for reprinting, the multi-part printed forms suffer from lower resolution printing, lighter print, and thinner paper.  Paperless is the champion in this arena as all 'reprints' are resends of the original with no loss of readability or information.

Which is Right for You?

In the future the right answer for everyone will be the paperless model, but today the answer depends on your customer requirements and the solutions available to you.  In our Food Connex cloud based application we encourage clients to use a combination of Laser Printed Forms and Paperless PDF.  This gives the flexibility to print as needed, while still staying on the path towards paperless.  We do have several clients that still require a multi-part form to meet customer needs or regulations, but there has been a noticeable trend away from the multi-part forms over the last few years.




Issue 640 - Everything Cycles.

Transformation and disruption was a topic in an article in the Sunday Philadelphia Inquirer. I read about the demise of Sears & Roebuck titled The Big Stumble. They believed they had no competitors. The New York Times dubbed them "The Amazon of the gilded age." Those of us in the baby boom generation remember Sears.  As a young boy I remember thumbing through the catalog, dreaming of what I could buy if I had the money.

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