The process of making a transaction at a retail store and receiving a thermally printed receipt is so familiar that customers may think it is the only way to get a record of their purchase of products or services.
But think about what happens to most of those receipts. They get crumpled up in pockets, lost on the dresser drawer or glove compartment, or thrown out. Some get kept for tax or business purposes, but many more wind up in the trash or sitting around the house until the ink on the receipt fades away. Then the receipt no longer has any value.
There is another way. E-receipts are now so easy and secure to create that many businesses large and small offer e-receipts to customers who prefer a digital record to a receipt that gets lost or ruined.
E-receipts are easy to generate through an effective credit card processing solution that issues the e-receipt to the customer’s email address at their request. The strategy of issuing e-receipts aligns with tablet POS (point of sale) credit card processing in particular. The transaction occurs digitally, so there is no reason to be printing out paper receipts.
RetailWire reports that the Apple Store took the lead in converting transactions to e-receipts in place of paper receipts on-site. Apple is far from alone. Macy’s now issues about 12 percent of their receipts via email, and you’ll find retailers all the way down to your local coffee shop now offering emailed receipts rather than printed receipts. USA Today reports that more than one-third of retail businesses now offer e-receipts.
Costs associated with issuing and filing paper receipts is driving the conversion to e-receipts. Not only are printed receipts a cost, they can also be a point-of-sale nightmare when printers stall or paper jams occur. That can result in uncomfortable customer transactions as people grow impatient with slow service or perceived lack of efficiency.
E-receipts solve these and other customer service problems. They are generated with the tap of a button and are issued directly to the customer’s email inbox, which is convenient to both the retailer and customers.
Setting up e-receipts for transactions is a matter of relatively low technical difficulty. An e-receipt template is generally provided by your credit card processing company so that you can set up fields that match your transactions. A number is then automatically generated for each transaction.
You can also issue void receipts for customer assurance and create new receipt numbers for previously issued transactions, set up your own criteria, bundled receipts and other services.
Such are the immediate benefits of e-receipts, it is almost easy to forget their benefits on the broader scale of protecting the environment. Not only do paper receipts use up millions of tons of paper products, many also produce environmental toxins known as BPA, or bisphenol-A, a chemical compound that can absorb into human tissue through skin contact. Some thermal receipts routinely used in stores use BPA as a color developer for printing. According to a New York Times article the chemical puts retail workers, who regularly contact and use paper laced with BPA, at risk. The same chemical exists in airline baggage destination tags, cigarette filters and tickets for bus, trains and lottery.
Paper receipts showed the highest levels of BPA of any paper products tested from samples taken from cities in the United States. Believe it or not, about 30 percent of these paper products flow back into the recycling stream, which introduces BPA into products like toilet paper, napkins and even food packaging. BPA has leached into our air and water, soil, food and sewage so that the overall environment is impacted.
A cashier that asks, “Can we send you an e-receipt?” may in fact be saving everyone’s health in the long run.
Kristen Gramigna is Chief Marketing Officer for BluePay, a credit card processing firm, and also serves on its Board of Directors. Bluepay provides fast and secure POS system options for businesses. She has more than 15 years experience in the bankcard industry in direct sales, sales management and marketing.