Retailers Turn to Paperless Receipts to Cut Costs

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If you’re a retail executive or operations manager, you’re no doubt eager to cut operating costs in these tough economic times. One way to do that is by cutting out the printing of paper receipts.


As more consumers switch from cellphones to smartphones,  more retailers have begun to email receipts to shoppers instead of printing them out. The electronic receipts not only save time and paper but give retailers an extra “touch point” with which to reach consumers.


Paper receipts have become longer and longer as retailers seek to add coupons, contests, feedback forms and other promotional messages to them. Many paper receipts now print special promos and coupons in color, adding to ink and printing costs. E-receipts solve this problem, allowing retailers to send full-color promos, coupons and offers at a fraction of the cost.


Apple switched to e-receipts in 2005 and retailers have been following suit ever since. "It's a growing trend," says John Talbott of Indiana University's Center for Education and Research in Retailing. "Any retailer worth their salt will offer this." Retailers like Macy's, Nordstrom, Best Buy, Whole Foods, Kmart, Sears and Gap—all offer an e-receipt option. Banks like Wells Fargo and Citibank have also joined the e-receipt revolution and currently offer electronic receipts at their ATMs.


Customers who make deposits and withdrawals through Citibank’s branch ATMs can have the receipt emailed to a personal email address, printed with a copy of a check if a check deposit was made, printed without a copy of the check, or choose no receipt.


"We constantly listen to our customers and want to provide them with products and services that respond to their evolving needs,” said Stephen Troutner, Citi’s Head of Branch Network and Banking Products for U.S. Consumer Banking. “Making sure our customers get the most out of their banking experience is important to us, and providing the option to have their ATM receipts emailed allows them to reduce paper clutter, save time and help the environment.”


Wells Fargo noted that an e-receipt option is now offered for teller transactions in locations across the country. In just over two years after introducing an e-receipt option at its ATMs, the bank has issued over 100 million e-receipts.


Marketing firm Epsilon surveyed 3,900 retailers and found that 35 percent of them offer digital receipts."There's a tremendous amount of interest," says Epsilon President Andrew Frawley. His one caveat is to avoid inundating customers with too many promotional emails, lest they suffer from “e-mail fatigue.”


Consumers like e-receipts because they don’t make their wallets bulge with paper, and because e-receipts are easy to organize on a screen. They also like the environmental benefits. Over 9.6 million trees are cut down in the US each year to make paper for receipts.


Should you be thinking about adopting or expanding an e-receipt program? It’s a way to save money and reach your consumers more directly and with greater impact.


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  • leeann c
    leeann c
    I don't get it
  • Alex Kecskes
    Alex Kecskes
    I believe e-receipts are an option and that paper receipts will still be around for awhile.
  • James J
    James J
    This maybe great thing for the youth,but what about the elderly that still shop on their own and still dont use computer;ie e-mail
  • Alex Kecskes
    Alex Kecskes
    Thanks, Tomas.
  • Tomas D
    Tomas D
    Great article Alex.  We couldn't agree more.  We believe retailers will continue to adopt digital receipts as consumers find paper receipts to be extremely inconvenient.  The challenge will become adopting a solution that doesn't invade consumers email privacy.  Thanks for the post!

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