Did you know receipts have been in use for more than 5,000 years? In fact, they’re one of the earliest known examples of writing. From Clay tablets to meticulous handwritten records, receipts were finally computerised in the mid 20th century. In modern life, printed receipts result in millions of tonnes of paper utilised each year; crazy when more often than not, they end up abandoned at the bottom of a pocket, never to be seen again.
Fast forward a few decades, and we witness the birth of online shopping. In 2021, eCommerce sales in the UK represented almost one-third of total retail spend. Accelerated by the pandemic, 75 percent of consumers now admit to shopping online at least once a month. And even when we’re not shopping, it’s estimated a typical week will see us browsing the internet for 59 hours; that’s two whole days! But what does all of this have to do with receipts?
In this blog, we’ll uncover how to know if your customers are ready to make the switch to digital receipts and will reveal the true benefit to retailers of adopting eReceipts.
#1 Chasing ghosts.
Retailers sit on a treasure trove of data about their online customers.
From where they browse, what they search for, what they abandon and what they purchase, and of course, what they return. As shoppers, we provide companies with a wealth of information about us via our online footprint, enabling retailers to build sophisticated customer profiles and targeted personalisation.
Take that same customer browsing in-store, and they become a ghost.
Unless you have a well-adopted loyalty programme (and even these typically have a glass ceiling), the opportunities to learn about store customers are limited.
Increasingly retailers are adopting digital receipts as a way to improve their understanding of store customers, as well as to improve their marketing and retargeting to generate repeat sales.
But what’s in it for the consumer?
#2 Consumers are already going digital.
Consumers are becoming more experimental and confident with both in-store and eCommerce technology and solutions. A recent study by Visa found that since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, at least 70 percent of consumers have used a new shopping or payment method such as contactless, click and collect or buying on mobile.
The adoption of digital shopping methods has truly been a phenomenon. With that newfound confidence, consumers are more likely to respond positively to in-store data capture. In fact, 89 percent of shoppers say they would like retailers to offer digital receipts as an option.
A post-lockdown study from McKinsey discovered that consumers want more brands to offer “fully end-to-end digital services — including services offered after the sale — with less friction along the way.”
It’s time to capitalise on this digital mindset.
#3 Customers care about your green credentials.
It’s estimated that 25 million trees are exploited to generate paper receipts worldwide.
Furthermore, in the UK alone, experts calculate that 11.2 billion receipts are printed each year most of which are non-recyclable. And consumers are catching on, with more shoppers than ever taking time to research where their favourite brands stand on environmental issues, and how they can reduce unnecessary waste.
IBM found that nearly 60 percent of consumers say they have actively changed their shopping habits to be more eco-conscious, with 77 percent claiming sustainability is important. Consumers want to see retailers take active steps to reduce their carbon footprint.
Campaigns from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and the Independent Retailers Association are encouraging consumers to consider ditching paper receipts. And as more consumers review their environmental footprint, it’s likely digital receipts will become the de-facto option in-store. For retailers today, digital receipts are a clear and effective way to demonstrate that their green credentials are a priority to the increasing number of consumers who want to be more eco-conscious.
#4 Easy returns can be the key to repeat customers.
We all know that easy returns make for a happy customer.
Returns policies can positively impact conversion rates. Providing reassurance that a return will be straightforward and convenient is something research tells us consumers want time and time again. However, that crumpled receipt, hastily stuffed in a back pocket, has an uncanny ability to disappear entirely when it comes time to make a return. And we all know hell hath no fury like a customer who realises they’ve lost their receipt and it’s exchange only!
Digital receipts make for easier returns, happier customers and shorter queues at checkout as returns can be processed more quickly and efficiently than when faced with a customer wielding a faded paper receipt or no receipt.
As an additional benefit digital receipts allow retailers to identify any serial returners who could be harming your bottom line and to manage those customers’ returns accordingly.
#5 Better offers, more intelligent personalisation.
A whopping 91 percent of consumers say they are more likely to shop with a retailer offering relevant recommendations.
As digital adoption increases, so too do consumer expectations. If you’re a frequent shopper at a leading high street chain, purchasing online, in-store and using click and collect, you expect offers from this brand to be personalised, based on real data about your preferences and behaviour.
Capturing in-store data about your customers could be the final piece of the puzzle to help you offer better personalisation such as location-based offers, rules-based content or more accurate product recommendations.
The goal of personalisation programmes is to increase customer loyalty. We live in a time where consumers can switch tabs in the blink of an eye — garnering repeat purchase has never been more critical. By joining the dots between your online and offline offering, retailers can use digital receipts to increase post-purchase engagement. With 75% open rates for digital receipts, this is one of the most highly engaged channels in your arsenal.
What’s next for retailers?
The COVID pandemic has accelerated many trends, such as digital adoption, that were already underway with profound results. Digital receipts are not new. We’ve been offering them to leading retailers for the past ten years. But the pace of adoption, not only by retailers but consumers demanding easier in-store transactions, has undoubtedly increased.
Once you know your customers are ready to move to digital receipts, the benefits for retailers like you can be huge, here are just some of the improvements you can expect to see:
Increase Customer Insight
Digital receipts enable you to grow your CRM database with engaged customers. They enable you to build a detailed omnichannel single customer view — allowing you to target your marketing efforts more effectively — and to measure offline sales attribution.
Continue the Conversation Post Purchase
With 75% open rates, digital receipts are one of the most highly engaged communication channels available to marketers and can be one of the most effective ways to drive post-purchase engagement and sales. Use the email to deliver feedback surveys, tell your brand story, make product recommendations, utilise dynamic content and much more.
Deliver on Sustainability
Unwanted paper receipts are one of the most wasteful aspects of retailing today. eReceipts save paper, printing and printer costs and reduce non-recyclable items in your supply chain.
Support Compliance and Privacy
Several countries are taking legislative steps to reduce the printing of paper receipts. In addition, it is now critical to have GDPR-compliant data capture practices in place to grow your marketable CRM database. Focusing on your digital receipt project will help to future proof your business.
If you want to discuss what digital receipts could do for your customer journey and post-purchase engagement, get in touch to find out how we can help you!