Retail TouchPoints: Is the Retail World Ready for Digital Receipts?

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Jan 25, 2010
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By Andrew Gaffney

Through
a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current
article from the Retail TouchPoints website.

During the checkout
process today, consumers often leave the store with a paper receipt longer
than their arm. Not only does this process fly in the face of the green movement,
it is also inconvenient for consumers to store and manage reams of paper from
different merchants.

Apple and a few other retailers have started to
shorten the paper trail by encouraging consumers to have a PDF of their receipt
emailed to them. However, the entrance of software giant Intuit into the digital
receipt space could usher in a more dramatic shift to paperless checkouts.
During this past holiday season, Intuit launched a pilot program in the Scottsdale,
AZ market to test the waters for the launch of QuickReceipts.

The pilot, which
is scheduled to run through the end of February 2010, is working with leading
retailers including Best Buy, Cost Plus, World Market, Dillard’s, Smart & Final
and Peek…Aren’t You Curious. Tapping into the product expertise and installed
customer base from such products as TurboTax, Quicken and QuickBooks, QuickReceipts
is designed as a hub to provide consumers online access to their electronic
receipts from participating retailers via MyQuickReceipts.com. Based on the
success of the pilot program in Arizona with major retailers, Intuit is planning
for a national rollout with additional retailer participants.

Other leading
solution providers in the digital receipt space are already planning to partner
with Intuit’s rollout. afterBOT announced the commercial availability of QuickReceipts
Connect at the NRF show earlier this month, a solution designed to provide
the retailers with fast, efficient integration to the QuickReceipts centralized
digital receipt repository.

“AfterBOT’s digital receipt expertise gives retailers
more advanced ways to serve and support their customers, increase loyalty and
reduce shopping stress,” said Jim Nadler, VP of marketing, afterBOT. “We designed
QuickReceipts Connect to be a flexible and scalable application that works
easily with retailers’ existing systems or with our TransAccess applications.”

With
afterBOT’s solution, retailers can implement QuickReceipts Connect, which is
PCI compliant, and link to the QuickReceipts repository. afterBOT’s team uses
the NRF industry standard ARTS Digital Receipt XML (DRXML) format to enable
QuickReceipts Connect to be fully functional quickly and enable participation
in the next phase of the project.

AfterBOT also offers services to integrate,
maintain and manage the connection, allowing retailers to store data within
their firewall and move data to QuickReceipts.

Discussion
Questions: Is the time
right for digital receipts? What
are the pros and cons of digital versus paper receipts for consumers and retailers?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

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31 Comments on "Retail TouchPoints: Is the Retail World Ready for Digital Receipts?"


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Phil Rubin
Guest
11 years 3 months ago

There’s no question that we’re moving toward more digital receipts but retailers are not only slow to invest in technology, they often have more burning issues.

As more consumers embrace all things digital, including managing purchases and expenses, the move away from paper and analog processes will accelerate. The more consumers ask for it, the more retailers (at least those who are listening) will answer.

Other categories are, not surprisingly, further ahead. Travel, in part because the selling channels have shifted so drastically, is a great example. Hotels mail folios, all airlines send electronic confirmations and even though many are still just PDFs, the course is clear.

Perhaps one of the greatest opportunities, especially for Intuit and others in the business of providing the digital receipt solutions, is the data that is collected. These companies will have valuable data and insights around customers across categories, payment forms and channels. When everyone figures that out and those companies offer appropriate services to retailers, they’ll move even faster to support digital.

Carol Spieckerman
Guest
11 years 3 months ago

As someone who throws away 99% of my retail receipts, I absolutely love this idea. To be able to have receipts in one digital location would be terrific for facilitating returns, verifying warranty periods…what’s not to like?

James Tenser
Guest
11 years 3 months ago

I was also intrigued by the online receipt concept on view at NRF. It’s clever and seems like a “green” concept, if nothing less.

Maybe I haven’t fully considered its practical utility, but I’m unable visualize a good reason to archive my receipts for everyday purchases.

Could this be a case of a technology that works–even works well–but that has very limited usefulness in shoppers’ daily lives?

Liz Crawford
Guest
11 years 3 months ago

Today paper receipts are a shopper marketing mechanism. But not always a wildly effective one in comparison to some other vehicles. Digital receipts, however, open a door to higher redemption on coupons, higher pass-along coupon sharing, and higher product returns because shoppers have easier access to warranties. This change will up everyone’s game in the shopper marketing world.

Gene Detroyer
Guest
11 years 3 months ago

What is not to like? Did you ever look for an old receipt because you had a problem with a product? This makes ultimate sense. Online sales are all electronic and access to receipts is much easier than those you regularly get at retail. Do you want to get the info on a 2004 purchase at Amazon? It is available electronically.

The value to the retailer is incomparable. Connections, data, ability to communicate messages to their customers…this is a real connection with value on both sides of the transaction.

Doug Fleener
Guest
11 years 3 months ago

I love that I have a have a digital receipt from Apple before I even leave the store. As a consumer I would love to have all my receipts in a single location.

I think the biggest challenge for universal acceptance is consumers’ fear of data being stolen. Retailers will have to get quite good at communicating the benefits to the consumer beyond not having a piece of paper.

Joel Warady
Guest
Joel Warady
11 years 3 months ago

Digital receipts are the way to go. I think retailers are misguided if they think that consumers are reading the marketing messages on their ever-growing receipts. Not only is it a waste of paper, but it is an inconvenience for the consumer to have to carry this long paper trail. It is interruption marketing at its worst! And totally unnecessary.

Ben Ball
Guest
11 years 3 months ago

Like most of the other commentators, I’m liking this idea. In particular, I like it for major purchases such as appliances, clothing, etc, where I am likely to have a warranty-related need.

But the vast majority of paper receipts generated are for more mundane purchases, the daily coffee stop or the afternoon trip to the supermarket to decide “what’s for dinner.” And 99% of these receipts are promptly thrown away. To really put a dent in the paper generated these are the receipts that have to be addressed.

But I hate cluttered digital mailboxes just as much as I hate cluttered files. Perhaps there’s a need for “receipts management software” as a feature in popular programs like Quicken. All receipts could be received (or downloaded) into the file and cataloged by retailer. Users could set retention periods by retailer.

Paul R. Schottmiller
Guest
Paul R. Schottmiller
11 years 3 months ago

I will join the chorus. This one is a no-brainer for the consumer and if the retailers think creatively, it is for them as well. As a road warrior, I also agree that travel is an area that is fertile ground…rental car receipt, hotel receipt, boarding pass…would love to eliminate all of this paper clutter and manage electronically.

Cathy Hotka
Guest
11 years 3 months ago

One reason that online travel services took off is the digital receipt, which is an invaluable way to track business expenses and double check on flight times. It’s easy to imagine digital receipts taking off in certain retail segments, like consumer electronics, where rebates are common. I hope it takes off!

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
Guest
11 years 3 months ago

Getting a digital receipt is good when it shows up and is accurate. When it gets lost in cyberspace and/or is not accurate, how do you prove that you purchased something when you need a refund or a repair? Digital receipts are convenient until there is a problem, then they are frustrating. Yes, we are going that direction but not all consumers will be satisfied unless they can actually see that they have received the receipt and that it is accurate. As in anything else, timely accurate data is the key to success.

Pete Reilly
Guest
Pete Reilly
11 years 3 months ago
Digital receipts are coming. I wrote a blog post on the topic based on what I saw at NRF. Here is an excerpt: In 2000, NCR led creation of the Digital Receipt alliance. Participating companies were Visa, Office Depot, America Online Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co.’s VeriFone division. The alliance proposed a standard for digital receipts to the National Retail Federation’s technology standards body which now maintains this standard. So, companies have been working in this space for nearly a decade. There have been several attempts to approach this more from the consumer-side of the equation–attempting to create demand for a customer ‘receipt repository’ of sorts. The latest entrant is Intuit QuickReceipts. What’s Changed – A few things are different now and may provide the catalyst for digital receipts: A large company with significant resources (Intuit) is sponsoring the repository and working with retailers to gain critical mass. Transaction Tree is one company partnering with Intuit to populate the database (as is Afterbot). Apple already offers email receipts and many customers are getting acclimated… Read more »
Warren Thayer
Guest
11 years 3 months ago

I agree with all the advantages people have mentioned. Only thing I can add here is that it protects shoppers who send in the required “original receipt” for rebates. I’m still angry with Apple for never sending me a promised $100 rebate, years ago, after I bought a computer and they ignored the request and then said they never got the receipt. I found many others have had the same experience with Apple, and I now buy from them reluctantly.

Actually, instant rebates are the way to go, but at least for those companies that don’t allow instant rebates, it’ll be a little harder under this system to rip consumers off. And yes, I do think rebates that require the receipt, a sample of your hair and your grandmother’s shoe size are all a deliberate rip-off.

Bill Emerson
Guest
Bill Emerson
11 years 3 months ago

What a terrific idea. Lower costs and hassles for the retailer, a convenient repository for the consumers that may need to make a return. What’s not to like?

The transition will be the biggest challenge. A significant number of consumers will resist this for a variety of reasons. It’s new and there is always resistance to new. More importantly, there is the routing information that consumers will be required to give out. This raises security issues (real or imagined) along with the concerns about yet more marketing flowing into already jammed inboxes.

That aside, this is definitely the future.

Bill Bittner
Guest
Bill Bittner
11 years 3 months ago
Right now, I think the digital receipt is still a solution looking for a problem. HOWEVER, I think there is huge potential here by looking at it from the business perspective and then letting that build demand for the consumer segment. There are a lot of things annoying about business travel, not the least of which is completing expense reports. Everyone in business knows there are expenses they have not either recouped for their business or charged their employer. Keeping track of every minor expense is often too cumbersome. Probably the best approach I ever saw was the guy who counted his cash on arrival at the airport, charged and everything he could on the trip, and then counted his cash on the plane home (after the drinks were delivered). He now knew the answer he wanted and just had to find the “receipts” to match it. (He didn’t smoke or have other daily habits.) If the IRS (and corporate controllers) would figure out a way to accept credit card receipts and digital receipts for… Read more »
Ryan Mathews
Guest
11 years 3 months ago

While I agree completely with the pro-digital army of commentators, I just want to remind one and all that there will always be some Luddites out there who want a physical receipt either because like Warren, they don’t trust a certain retailer or because they don’t trust technology, no matter who offers it.

Ben Sprecher
Guest
Ben Sprecher
11 years 3 months ago

I think Liz nailed it: this is a major marketing opportunity. Relevant, targeted coupons, offers, and other marketing messages on the digital receipt can add value to the consumer, chain, and participating brands.

Intuit will have its work cut out for it, though, if it wants to both manage the receipts and sell ad inventory to advertisers who want to reach shoppers through Intuit’s new touch-point. The challenge will be even greater if they want to make those ads and coupons targeted based on each shopper’s purchases.

I’m interested to see whether Intuit tries to grab the ad revenue for itself, share it with the chains, or let chains manage the ad space on the digital receipt for themselves.

Paula Rosenblum
Guest
11 years 3 months ago

I bought a house 5 years ago. When it was time to refinance (before that became the set up for a joke!) I pulled my paper receipts so I could tally up what I’d actually spent on improvements.

Much to my surprise, over the 5 years, the ink on the receipts had faded to unreadable.

If I can have a copy of the digital receipt, count me in TOMORROW. Especially if I can port it directly into a spreadsheet when it’s tax time, as well.

Warren Thayer
Guest
11 years 3 months ago

Didn’t want to give the impression that I oppose digital receipts. I’m a formidable Luddite (although I did get electricity last year, and am now considering indoor plumbing), but digital receipts are definitely the way to go. Lest there be any confusion in my previous rambling.

Ralph Jacobson
Guest
11 years 3 months ago

Ok, so just finally getting to this blog here on the Left Coast. And, for once, I cannot honestly think of one thing to add that already hasn’t been said here. Is there ANY disadvantage to a digital receipt? Can’t think of any real one. It is the way to go.

Mark Johnson
Guest
Mark Johnson
11 years 3 months ago

Lots of companies with interesting potential utility, but most of this technology is being aimed at groups with little disposable income.

tom walters
Guest
tom walters
11 years 3 months ago

Digital receipts a good thing since most of us tend to misplace them but as a first step, the retailer should go to a paper and digital receipt to hold the consumers hand during this change.

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
11 years 3 months ago
I’m not sure how electronic receipts will “reduce shopping stress.” Paper receipts are the period at the end of the shopping sentence (pun intended). They’re also an on-the-spot, immediate way to check your purchases to make sure you were charged correctly. I live in a retirement community and these folks – especially those on fixed incomes – review their receipts line-by-line before exiting either of our two nearby major supermarkets. In fact one nearly always must navigate through or around a knot of older shoppers positioned just inside the exit doors reviewing their receipts. Privacy has also got to be a concern. How many people do you know who’d like all of their purchasing records pooled somewhere? Can the IRS subpoena that information? Who would like to hand over records of all of their purchases of tobacco and alcohol? Could insurance companies refuse coverage based on those records? Are you a little concerned about the nearly weekly revelation that yet another gigantic consumer database has been hacked? Or that despite data-pooler promises, consumer email addresses… Read more »
Mike Romano
Guest
Mike Romano
11 years 3 months ago

Digital receipts are definitely on the future landscape. Although they may not be for every consumer, in 5 years they will be the norm.

I am working with two retailers right now on a pilot to send a mobile receipt to their customers cell phones. Even better than email. Can’t really disclose the names, but happy to talk about the concept with anyone that’s interested.

Leon Farbes
Guest
Leon Farbes
11 years 3 months ago

The online retail marketplace is already using digital receipts in a win-win relationship between producer and consumer. I’m sure entrepreneurs will, where it makes sense, rapidly deliver innovative cost-saving solutions to general retail marketplace paper receipt problems. Apple and other retailers are already showing the way.