The Incredible, Growing Sales Receipt

Discussion
Sep 14, 2009

By Tom
Ryan

Register
receipts across stores now can typically measure over two- to three-feet
long as retailers add coupons, return policies, loyalty points,
advertising and other information to the basic data on the transaction.
While some consumers capitalize on the extra information, others
find it wasteful and cumbersome.

Other
information contained in receipts may includes credit card applications,
data regarding recalls for items previously bought, and customer
surveys.

According
to an article in The
Wall Street Journal,
receipts
started expanding early in this decade as retailers, armed with
sophisticated software, began tailoring information,
such as coupons, to specific customers.

Dan
Bogan, senior vice president who oversees receipt printing at NCR
Corp., said redemption rates for coupons printed on receipts can
run as high as three percent – about triple the rate of coupons
mailed to customers or included in advertising circulars. Retailers “find
it’s one of the most effective places to communicate with their
customers,” said Mr. Bogan.

Retailers
also said many customers have grown to expect and appreciate the
coupons that are typically the most common addition to receipts.

Meghan
Glynn, a Kroger spokeswoman, said Kroger customers also appreciate
the additional information on receipts showing how much customers
saved for using loyalty cards. She told the Journal, “With
some customers, it’s a badge of honor: here’s how much I saved.”

Home
Depot uses the bottom four inches of receipts to ask customers
to take an online survey in return for a chance to win a $5,000
gift card. The retailer receives 500,000 responses each month.

“Prior
to 2003, we used customer-comment cards in store, and they got
nowhere near the level of response,” said Ron DeFeo, a Home Depot
spokesman.

On
the downside, the article notes that store managers are complaining
about running out of receipt paper and having printers break down.
The paper/print costs and the environmental impact are also considerations.

In
light of these issues, Wal-Mart is testing double-sided receipts.
CVS plans to introduce in-store kiosks where customers can scan
loyalty cards to collect coupons to avoid carrying around lengthy
coupon-filled receipts. Lowe’s is deleting white space at the top
and bottom of receipts and moving the return policy to the back.

Besides
waste concerns, the other annoyance for consumers is “paper clutter.” Jeannette
Lovejoy of Roseville, Calif., told the Journal that
the act of stuffing receipts caused the zipper on her purse to
burst. “The receipt issue has gotten out of hand,” Ms. Lovejoy
said.

Discussion
Question: Do you find the lengthier trend in receipts entirely
appropriate or largely wasteful? Which receipt add-ons to you find
most valuable?

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22 Comments on "The Incredible, Growing Sales Receipt"

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David Zahn
Guest
8 years 2 months ago
Why not put the control back in the shopper’s hands and let them choose IF and WHICH messaging/coupons/policies they wish to receive? With the state of technology, can’t the shopper choose if they want to receive an offer while at the checkstand? The gas pumps do it for self-serve pumping when asking if you want a receipt at the end of the transaction. Simply prompt the shopper if they want: A 5% off next purchase coupon (yes or no);A chance to enter a drawing (yes or no);Return policy (yes or no);etc. That way, the store does not print out “wasteful”… Read more »
Ron Margulis
Guest
8 years 2 months ago
This will be a non-issue in a few years when most receipts and coupons are sent to email addresses or cell phones. In the meantime, this is a problem for stores, particularly those with two sets of printers–one for the receipt and a second for coupons or other offers. At the supermarket where I shop, there are typically stacks of coupons sticking out of the Catalina machines in the self-checkout lanes. Just the other day, I counted 21 coupons and offers that weren’t collected by previous shoppers. Not a great delivery mechanism for the CPG companies paying for the coupons.… Read more »
Kevin Sterneckert
Guest
8 years 2 months ago
I’m sure there are arguments that would cause retailers to lean in the direction of larger receipts, many are doing so…I believe this is communicating to the consumer a little to late in the process. Giving the consumer a coupon at the end of the shopping experience is the wrong time. Retailers should focus on offers that occur during the shopping experience. There are many approaches, most will not achieve full success, however, there will be winning equations that will entreat the consumer, motivate purchases and deliver real gains in transaction size. Consider Invatron. In grocery, they help retailers manage… Read more »
Roger Saunders
Guest
8 years 2 months ago
“Value” resides in the minds–and purse–of the consumer. There is little question that the consumer is seeking more of it in today’s economy than in the recent past. Coupons that relate to the consumer needs will resonate that value equation at the register. Coupons are particularly effective in INFLUENCING purchase behavior in the Grocery and Dining Out categories. In BIGresearch’s June Simultaneous Media Usage Survey (SIMM), fully 69% of Adults stated that Coupons Influenced their purchase, while 55% of Adults stated that Coupons Influenced their purchase while Eating Out. Provide the right message and value on register receipts and they… Read more »
Justin Time
Guest
8 years 2 months ago

On recent visits to my local Kmart, I am flooded with a foot of coupons attached to my receipt.

A few are worthwhile, most are not. It does seem like a waste of paper.

Max Goldberg
Guest
8 years 2 months ago
The amount of paper that stores waste every day on long receipts is unbelievable. Retailers need to look at their environmental footprint. Whether it’s leaving the door to the street open on a hot day or adding surveys and coupons to a register receipt, waste is money, and in this economy, few retailers can afford to waste money. Print the back of the receipt with store return policies and surveys. Email coupons to loyal customers and let them take advantage of the coupons electronically, rather than print them out and bring them to the store. These and a myriad of… Read more »
David Livingston
Guest
8 years 2 months ago

Mostly wasteful. I like fast food restaurants and gas stations that have a receipt optional policy. Naturally consumers will love to get $$$$ off any purchase coupon. But not on a specific item unless they give it away. Worse yet are the ads for all the struggling, non-essential businesses.

Doron Levy
Guest
Doron Levy
8 years 2 months ago

This is actually pretty funny considering the move to ban and charge for plastic shopping bags. We’ll save some space in the landfill but here is a tree trunk with your purchases, points, 5 bucks off at the local pizza place, Manager’s name, phone number and blood type, etc. I think coupon and paper offers are coming back into style so you will probably see these receipts get longer. We may be seeing tiered points collection in the near future so get our your spools….

John Boccuzzi, Jr.
Guest
John Boccuzzi, Jr.
8 years 2 months ago
Fellow BrainTrust contributor David Zahn gave us a great idea with regards to consumers selecting the coupons and offers they are interested in. I like this idea and hope to see a retailer take advantage of this soon. Saving on printing coupons is where loyalty data can come in handy. Rather than spitting out coupons on the bottom of a receipt that may or may not be used why not use loyalty data to better target shoppers and then email them coupons, post them on a web site or even better have instant savings at the register. As a disclaimer… Read more »
Bill Bittner
Guest
Bill Bittner
8 years 2 months ago
Ten years ago, Dell was recognized as the expert in Demand Management. Their totally online presence enabled them to steer customers away from low inventory items by offering substitutes and get rid of overstocks by offering enticements. They used the flexibility of their online information channel to optimize the utilization of their physical supply chain channel. From the traditional sense, the tail was finally wagging the dog. Retailers have been trying to accomplish this forever. The whole goal has been to influence customer purchasing decisions in a way that optimizes the return on inventory. What more direct way to reach… Read more »
Sandy Miller
Guest
Sandy Miller
8 years 2 months ago

There are far more positives than negatives. One thought: have the checkout person ask, “do you want our idea and offer receipt or our short checkout version?”

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
8 years 2 months ago

Charge me for what I purchased, making sure in advance that it’s a solid value, hopefully a bargain, and then ask me if I want a short receipt. Anything else is just diddling with the consumer.

Warren Thayer
Guest
8 years 2 months ago

Printing on both sides is great, as well as yes-no options on the coupons, etc. Consumer could opt in/out of all coupons and such, if they desired. Our little general store in the wilds of Vermont asks you whether you want a receipt or not for every purchase. Most people say “no.” (But they don’t give out coupons, either.) Finally, Jeanette Lovejoy, of Roseville, Calif., needs to clean out her purse more often.

Carol Spieckerman
Guest
8 years 2 months ago

I find these receipts to be completely wasteful and I wish we were being offered the option to forgo them. I don’t manage/track transactions through receipts and 100% of the receipts I receive go right in the trash.

I would like to see other waste-intensive transactions go paperless also, such as retail cars (talk about waste!), airline baggage and ticketing (even “e-tickets” get printed and automatically thrown into those useless jackets), and even home purchases. There’s really no excuse for all of this auto-generated waste when it can be stored on a computer!

Gene Detroyer
Guest
8 years 2 months ago
Starbucks has the right idea. First, they ask you if you want a receipt. If, you do, occasionally it gives you an opportunity to participate in an online survey and get a free drink. If this comes up, the server always points it out. Sometimes, Starbucks runs a promotion on the receipt, “Come back after 2PM with this receipt and get a drink at half price.” If they are running that promotion, they don’t ask if you want a receipt, they just print it out and tell you about the promotion. If a retailer has something of value to give… Read more »
Brent Buttolph
Guest
Brent Buttolph
8 years 2 months ago
If the best we can do is to move ‘mass mailers’ to the register receipts, this only reinforces how far we need (yet) to go in terms of targeted marketing. There are several retail exemplars out there who are doing a marvelous job, and others that still haven’t figured out how to mine customer/basket data and deliver ‘personal value’ messages/offers. Showing how much was ‘saved’ or how many ‘points’ you have a accrued is ‘spot on’ valuable and personalized information–thank you! Fortunately this only takes one or two lines on the bottom of the receipt as well. However, the mass… Read more »
Anne Bieler
Guest
Anne Bieler
8 years 2 months ago

While the industry is thrilled with a 3% redemption rate, it likely means that 97% are disregarded, or in the case of several feet of register tape, annoying some percentage of shoppers with the added waste.

Panelists have described a number of ways to get shoppers closer to the decision making about how coupons and offers are distributed–online accounts, email cell phones and more. Time to take a good look at the true value of the loyalty driven programs–make them simple and relevant.

Bernice Hurst
Guest
8 years 2 months ago

Haven’t been there, haven’t done that but it sounds totally ridiculous and wasteful. Once would be enough for me. That could be the last time I ever shopped in a store that lumbered me with so much paper. Double-sided needs to be tested???!!! White space at the top and bottom eliminated on trial???!!! Give me a break (and a choice), puhleeeze.

John Rand
Guest
John Rand
8 years 2 months ago

Speaking entirely as a consumer, these receipts irritate me enormously. As a result, I have taken to standing at the cash register, blocking access if possible, and editing the receipt, tearing off the extra offensive nonsense, and returning it to the cashier. From their reaction, I am not the only one.

This is particularly irritating with short transactions at stores where I am a frequent shopper. I don’t need a 2 foot receipt from Home Depot on my third visit of the weekend to pick up some bit of hardware.

Rick Boretsky
Guest
Rick Boretsky
8 years 2 months ago

Total waste, un-environment friendly, and I would hazard to guess largely ineffective! I recently just wrote about what retailers should be doing to be more ‘green’, and one of the specific points is to eliminate paper receipts altogether (where possible). This can be done through e-receipts, by emailing them to the customer, and then these can be fully customized and personalized with coupons, surveys, messages, promotion or whatever else the retailer wishes to communicate. In fact, there is a company, Transaction Tree (http://www.transactiontree.com) which specifically provides this functionality for any POS system.

Joel Warady
Guest
Joel Warady
8 years 2 months ago

While traditional retailers provide coupons the length of their customer’s arms, Apple retail stores prefer to email the coupon to their customers, with no printed copy necessary. This tends to be the choice that customers prefer as well.

Once again, Apple takes an opposite approach from other retailers, and they seem to be right on the money. I doubt there is any customer who prefers to have long receipts with a lot of marketing messages.

As your customers what they want, and they will most likely tell you.

Kai Clarke
Guest
8 years 2 months ago

These super receipts are receptacles of trash. A receipt used to be proof of a purchase. Now it is another vehicle for advertising products and services as well as getting information. Retailers do not do enough with the data that they do have, let alone another device to try to capture greater shares of mind (and wallets) of their consumers.

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