Every day the use of physical cash and currency is becoming less common in payment processing around the world. Along with this shift towards digital payment solutions, we are also seeing paper copies of receipts and invoices going by the wayside in favor of digital transaction records and e-receipts. This paperless approach to providing customers with proof of purchase has many benefits for them and your business.
Anyone who’s ever had to empty their wallet or dig through their purse to find an old payment receipt only to come up empty handed knows the frustration and hassle of lost paper transaction records. Plus, the clutter that they create in our pockets, cars, wallets, purses, and homes is certainly something we’d all like to do away with. But what other choice do we have? It’s not like we can simply stop getting receipts or proof of purchase documents, because they are absolutely essential in case of a warranty issue, the need to return or exchange a product, or to obtain rebates and special offers. Fortunately, customers can easily do all of these things and more through the use of a digital or virtual copy of their transaction record, also known as an e-receipt.
How do E-Receipts Work?
It’s simple, really. Much in the same way a paper receipt is printed at the merchants’ POS system when the transaction has been approved, a digital copy of a receipt can be issued to the customers instead. At the time of transaction or the moment of purchase, customers are offered the option to provide an email address or mobile number to the merchant. Then, once the transaction is finalized, the digital copy of the receipt is either emailed to the email address provided, and/or texted directly to the customer’s mobile number. Rather than file a physical copy of a paper receipt, customers need only retain the digital copy e-receipt in their email account or text messages for future reference.
Within these digital receipts is all the information you’d typically find on a paper receipt, such as the merchant identification details, address, contact methods, etc., along with the specifics on the products or services purchased by the customer. Other information can be included about various things such as promotions or offers, loyalty programs, account reminders, feedback surveys, and more. E-receipts can also be formatted to include product-specific information like serial numbers or model versions, and service-specific information such as the support technician or the customer representative name who assisted the customer.
E-receipts have been rapidly gaining popularity in recent years among businesses of all types. This has been especially true since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which accelerated the adoption of contactless payment processing technologies as businesses sought to minimize the number of physical contact points customers had with merchants when completing their transactions. As a result, e-commerce and curbside pickup business models saw exponential growth, along with a widespread need for traditional businesses to adopt paperless e-receipt options for customers.
Sounds simple, right? It is, but so far, we haven’t necessarily explained the specific mechanics behind how digital wallet technology actually functions to replace a physical payment card like a credit or debit card. The answer to that question lies deep within the smartphone hardware in the form of a near-field communication (NFC) chip.
Advantages of Paperless Digital Receipts
Much in the same way that digital technology has simplified a wide range of business processes and record keeping tasks that used to rely on physical paper copies, the adoption of paperless e-receipts offers an array of advantages for businesses and consumers alike. Here are some of the most notable key benefits that can be realized by switching to digital receipts:
Increases Transaction Processing Speed and Reliability
The speed of a transaction is dependent on several factors such as the inherent speed of the POS system itself, the efficiency of the employee, and the number of steps involved in the process. By switching from physical receipts to digital receipts, there is no longer a need to wait for a receipt printer to warm up and print. The employee doesn’t need to waste time tearing or separating merchant copies from customer copies of receipts, and there’s no more delays related to printer malfunctions, jammed paper, or having to replace paper rolls. Digital receipts simplify the payment process and reduce overall transaction time.
Reduces Waste and Lowers Environmental Impact
One of the more obvious benefits to making the switch to e-receipts is the reduction of paper waste generated by the business. With paperless digital receipts, there’s no need to stock extra rolls of receipt paper or dispose any empty plastic spools once a roll runs out. Furthermore, the printer itself is no longer required, reducing the materials used in the manufacturing of your business’ POS system. No printers also means fewer devices drawing electricity and adding to your annual utility bills, and while the total cost of power to run them might not be a lot, every little reduction in operating costs adds up.
Easy Retrieval of Transaction Data for Customer Service
In the event that customers need to refer to their receipt for more information, for example, in the case of a warranty issue or the need to return or exchange a product, a digital receipt is far superior to paper receipts. While paper copies can easily get lost, damaged, or thrown away, digital receipts are always available in the customers email archives. In addition, the built-in search functions of email apps make it fast and easy to search for business names, dates, product names, and any other information that might be available in the content of an e-receipt for quick retrieval of the exact receipt needed. E-receipts can also be digitally forwarded by the customer directly back to the merchant or other third-party via email in just seconds.
Direct Links to Promotional Offers and Loyalty Rewards
Another advantage that e-receipts offer businesses is the ability to provide enhanced functionality and added value for their customers. Rather than looking up phone numbers, email addresses, or website information off of a paper receipt then manually typing them into the customers mobile device, they can simply look at their e-receipt and tap on active links to instantly access them. Businesses can simplify customer service experiences, provide links to exclusive special offers or limited time promotions, and even offer fast access to customer loyalty accounts.
Email and Text Message Opt-In to Grow Marketing Lists
Direct marketing to customers via email and text messaging is highly effective, but growing email or text marketing lists can be a big challenge for many businesses. By offering e-receipts at the time of checkout, customers can then be prompted to opt-in to receive special offers, promotions, and news through the same email or text number they provided to obtain their e-receipt. This helps accelerate marketing list growth and works to boost the ROI on direct marketing efforts conducted through email and text messaging channels.